The Louisiana Supreme Court found last week that state prosecutors did not present enough evidence to prove that the makers of Risperdal violated Louisiana’s healthcare assistance laws, and voted 4-3 to toss out a $258 million penalty levied against Johnson & Johnson and its Janssen Pharmaceuticals unit in October 2010. The Risperdal lawsuit, which was filed in 2004 by Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell, had accused the companies of deceptively marketing the atypical antipsychotic drug.
The lawsuit, which was filed by the state of Louisiana under its version of the False Claims Act, centered on a letter sent by the drug makers to doctors regarding the use of Risperdal. The state had alleged that the letter downplayed Risperdal side effects and promoted off-label uses of the medication. Prosecutors also asserted that the letter’s misleading claims caused doctors to bill state health programs for Risperdal prescriptions, even though there were safer and less expensive alternatives available.
According to a report from The Advocate, the Supreme Court’s majority opinion held that in order to prevail in the case, the state needed to prove that at least one doctor receiving the letter was aware its claims were misleading, but prescribed Risperdal anyway.
“Certainly the record contains no evidence that any doctor or health care provider knowingly committed malpractice based on the defendants’ improper marketing statements, and then submitted a claim for payment from medical assistance program funds,” the court’s majority wrote.
The Louisiana Attorney General’s Office is studying the decision, and could still ask the full Supreme Court to rehear the matter, The Advocate said.
Dozens of Risperdal gynecomastia lawsuits filed on behalf of men and boys who allegedly developed enlarged breasts due to their use of the drug will continue to move forward in Pennsylvania state court, despite the Louisiana ruling. The claims are part of a mass tort proceeding underway in Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, where more than 200 lawsuits involving alleged Risperdal side effects have been filed.
The Louisiana case also has no bearing on the settlement reached between Johnson & Johnson and the U.S. Department of Justice last November. That $2.2 billion accord resolved claims involving the marketing of Risperdal and other drugs, including allegations that the antipsychotic was improperly marketed to children and elderly dementia patients. Federal prosecutors also accused Johnson & Johnson and Janssen of concealing the risk of Risperdal gynecomastia and other side effects.
Risperdal users who suffered from gynecomastia still have time to bring a claim against the makers of the drug. To learn more about filing a Risperdal lawsuit, please contact Bernstein Liebhard LLP for a free case review. You may contact our office directly by calling .