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Arkansas attorney general criticizes court’s decision to overlook illegal Risperdal marketing

May 25th, 2014

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel has criticized the Arkansas Supreme Court’s decision to overturn an illegal marketing Risperdal verdict, saying it could threaten future litigation in the state. A court ordered Risperdal manufacturer Janssen Pharmaceuticals to pay $1.2 billion for Medicaid fraud related to illegal marketing of the drug, but the Arkansas Supreme Court overturned the decision by a 4-3 vote.

McDaniel said the decision overruled 170 years of legal precedent, and came despite 45 other states successfully suing Janssen for promoting Risperdal for unapproved uses. Janssen’s parent company Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay more than $2.2 billion, including $485 million in fines and $1.72 billion in civil penalties.

Janssen illegally promoted its antipsychotic drug Risperdal for years, encouraging doctors to prescribe it in children for unapproved uses, including bipolar disorder and ADHD. The company employed several marketing tactics aimed specifically at kids, including providing a sample of Risperdal in a kit with toys and children-themed literature.

Risperdal has been found to cause gynecomastia, or male breast tissue growth, in children and men who use the drug. Janssen is facing several Risperdal gynecomastia lawsuits alleging that the company failed to warn patients and doctors of the increased risk of breast tissue growth associated with the drug.

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