Johnson & Johnson agrees to pay $7.8M to settle lawsuit

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Court filings show pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson has agreed to pay $7.8 million to settle a lawsuit over how the company marketed an antipsychotic drug to Arkansas doctors.

Around $2 million will go to a Texas law firm that represented Arkansas in the suit, which began more than seven years ago, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette ( ) reported.

A Pulaski County jury ruled three years ago that the company, through its Janssen Pharmaceutical subsidiary, committed Medicaid fraud and violated a state law in its labeling and marketing of Risperdal, a widely used drug for treatment of mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Plaintiffs had argued at trial that drugmaker put patients at risk by not disclosing potential side effects, including the onset of diabetes and a propensity to cause stroke in older individuals. Janssen lawyers argued there wasn't any evidence that any doctor in the state was misled or that Medicaid wrongly paid for any Risperdal prescription.

A $1.2 billion fine was imposed on Johnson & Johnson, but it was later overturned by the Arkansas Supreme Court. The $5.75 million payout to Arkansas in the settlement is less than 1 percent of the fine.

Janssen representative Michelle Bauer said Monday that the settlement isn't an admission of liability.

"The settlement, which resolves all claims filed by the Arkansas Attorney General, is a compromise reached in the interest of ending the litigation," Bauer said in an email.

An Attorney General spokesman said full details of the settlement haven't been finalized and that the parties are still working on them.


Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette,

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