Risperdal AK

This week Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel asked for the reinstatement of a $1.2 billion Risperdal fine overturned by the state’s Supreme Court last month. The associated press reported on April 3rd that Attorney General Dustin McDaniel told the Arkansas Code Revision Commission on Thursday that he would file a petition asking the Court to revisit the decision.

In the petition McDaniel said that justices did “significant harm” to the state and broke from 170 years of precedent. The $1.2 billion verdict had been levied against Johnson & Johnson and its Janssen Pharmaceuticals unit in April 2012, after an Arkansas jury found that the companies had violated state laws governing Medicaid fraud and deceptive trade practice by improperly marketing Risperdal. The Supreme Court overturned that verdict last month claiming that McDaniel’s office had misapplied the state’s Medicaid fraud law.

It was the marketing of Risperdal for off-label uses that was at the center of the Arkansas suit. Johnson & Johnson admitted that they had deceptively marketed Risperdal. This included marketing the drug – which had originally been approved as an anti-seizure medication – to treat ADHD in childen and dementia in elderly patients. This came even after internal research at J&J showed that the drug heightened the risk of strokes in the elderly and boys and men at risk of developing gynecomastia – the development of breasts.

The Arkansas lawsuit wasn’t the first time the company’s questionable marketing techniques had come under fire. Last November the global health care giant agreed to pay more than $2.2 billion – one of the largest health-care fraud settlements in US history – to settle allegations that it misrepresented drugs and used kickbacks to promote the sales of the antipsychotic drugs Risperdal and Invega — as well as the heart drug Natrecor.

Johnson & Johnson has shown repeatedly that it will continue to place profits before the welfare of its patients and go to great lengths to keep justice from being served. In filing to reinstate the $1.2 billion Risperdal fine, Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel is sending a clear message to the company that his first concern is the safety of the state’s citizens.