Pharma Giant Pays $158 Million to Resolve Risperdal Lawsuit Alleging Overpayment to Medicaid

Published on March 12, 2014 by Laurie Villanueva

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Big-name pharmaceutical companies paying doctors to promote their products is nothing new, but some of those relationships have started to get attention amid rising Risperdal lawsuit litigation and scrutiny surrounding dangerous drugs, according to recent reports.

A new article from OpenEdNews.com points to a case settled in 2012 that accuses Johnson & Johnson of offering trips and other incentives to Texas Medicaid personnel in exchange for their promotion of Risperdal. Information about this lawsuit settlement, which was reached for $158 million and the first involving allegations from a U.S. state, is included in a January 2012 report from Bloomberg.com.

Included in claims filed by Texas officials, the Pharma giant was found to have promoted Risperdal in children with psychiatric disorders and other uses not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Pediatric uses of the drug were not cleared by the agency until 2006, according to the Bloomberg report, which also indicates that Texas originally sought $579 million in settlement rewards. This medication was originally approved in 1993 for the treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

This Risperdal lawsuit was originally filed in 2004 by an ex-investigator for the Pennsylvania Office of Inspector General who says he was fired after investigating Johnson & Johnson payments to a pharmacist who hid them from the government.

Risperdal Lawsuit Litigation Continues to Mount

Since these claims were resolved, Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary, Janssen Pharmaceuticals have begun to handle mounting litigation over this medication. Its most significant Risperdal lawsuit settlement to date was reached in November 2013 after the U.S. Department of Justice filed claims involving the marketing of this drug for off-label uses, along with certain other medications. According to claims that were settled for $2.2 billion, Johnson & Johnson promoted Risperdal for use in children and elderly patients with dementia, and allegedly downplayed the risk for side effects associated with use of its products. The company admitted to no wrongdoing in its marketing of the drug throughout the proceeding, according to Bloomberg.

In addition to Risperdal cases filed in federal court, a number of product liability lawsuits naming Johnson & Johnson and Janssen as defendants are pending in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. Many of these claims have been filed by men and young boys who allegedly experienced Risperdal gynecomastia, a condition referring to male breast growth. Court records show more than 200 cases filed in the Pennsylvania litigation.

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