Oct 15, 2010 5:16 PM by Letitia Walker
OPELOUSAS, La. (AP) - A St. Landry Parish jury says health
products maker Johnson & Johnson owes the state nearly $258 million
for misleading Louisiana doctors about the possible side effects of
one of its anti-psychotic medications.
A company spokesman said it would appeal Thursday's verdict in
Attorney General Buddy Caldwell's office had argued the New
Brunswick, N.J.-based company, through its subsidiary Janssen
Pharmaceutica Inc., had violated a state law against
misrepresentation and fraud.
Caldwell's office said Johnson & Johnson and Janssen sent
letters to more than 7,500 doctors and made more than 27,000 phone
calls that improperly claimed its schizophrenia drug Risperdal was
safer than other competing medications and minimized Risperdal's
link to diabetes.
"This verdict sends a loud message to those who knowingly try
to defraud the system: Those who deceive the state must pay,"
Caldwell said in a statement Friday.
Michael Heinley, a spokesman for Johnson & Johnson's
Ortho-McNeil Janssen Pharmaceuticals division, said the company is
disappointed with the jury's decision and will appeal.
"We believe the jury was not appropriately instructed on
applicable legal standards and that critical and highly relevant
evidence was excluded," he said Friday.
In a similar case, a West Virginia judge last year fined Johnson
& Johnson nearly $4.5 million for misleading doctors there about
two of its prescription drugs, including Risperdal. The company is
also appealing that ruling.