Wednesday, March 9, 2011

South Carolina Attorney General's Lawsuit Against Johnson and Johnson

Apparently the State's lawsuit against Johnson and Johnson began yesterday. Stephen Largen at the Spartanburg Herald Journal ran the below article yesterday, and you can find the direct link here. A cut and paste of it is below. This lawsuit sounds a good bit like the one against Eli Lilly, which I blogged about here and here awhile back. It includes allegations of off-label promotion and overcharging. I will try to keep my eyes out for coverage of the trial in the papers.

SC's lawsuit vs. Johnson & Johnson goes to trial

By Stephen Largen

Published: Tuesday, March 8, 2011 at 3:15 a.m.
Last Modified: Monday, March 7, 2011 at 9:58 p.m.

Nearly four years after the state of South Carolina first sued Johnson & Johnson over claims a subsidiary company overcharged the state for an antipsychotic drug and hid the risk of its side effects, the trial will begin this morning in 7th Judicial Circuit Court.

A jury, which will decide liability in the case but leave the awarding of any potential monetary damages to Judge Roger Couch, was seated Monday.

The S.C. Attorney General’s Office claims in its lawsuit that J&J’s Titusville, N.J.-based Janssen unit improperly marketed the drug Risperdal for unapproved uses, including treating children and dementia patients, dramatically overcharged the state for the drug, and did not adequately disclose the risk to patients of diabetes and other side effects.

A lawsuit represents only one side of a legal argument.

The S.C. Department of Health and Human Services paid about $10 million annually for a decade to provide the drug for Medicaid recipients.

Risperdal hit the market in 1994, and by 2008 generated $3.4 billion in sales.

Attorneys for the state aim to prove that the massive sales figures were due in large part to aggressive, deceptive marketing.

Two other states that made similar claims against J&J have won monetary awards, while another had its case dismissed.

Last fall, Louisiana was awarded $257 million in damages. Two years ago, West Virginia was awarded $4.4 million.

Pennsylvania had its case dismissed last summer.

Several other states have pending Risperdal claims against J&J.

South Carolina filed a similar fraudulent-marketing lawsuit against drugmaker Eli Lilly related to the marketing of its antipsychotic drug Zyprexa, and it settled with the company for $45 million in 2009.

The state’s representation in the J&J case includes attorneys who worked on the Eli Lilly case and Risperdal cases in other states.

The Risperdal trial is scheduled to open at 9 a.m. today. The trial is expected to last three weeks.

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