This is a rare bit of good news for Johnson & Johnson. The healthcare giant succeeded earlier this week in convincing a judge to toss a lawsuit brought by Pennsvylvania officials, who charged the drugmaker hid side effects risks associated with its Risperdal antipsychotic and, consequently, fooled the state into paying millions more than they should have for the medicine.
This is potentially significant for J&J because the Pennsylvania case was the first of 10 such state lawsuits concerning Risperdal marketing to make it to a jury. Testimony had already been provided for a week before a judge in Philadelphia granted J&J’s request to throw out the suit after finding the state hadn’t produced enough evidence of improper marketing, Bloomberg News reports. Last year, however, a West Virginia judge ordered J&J to pay $4 million over a similar charge.
Pennsylvania sought to recover $289 million in alleged overcharges tied to prescriptions covered by state programs. The ruling means state law might not provide a basis for recovering damages for defrauded public programs, according to Fletch Trammell, a lawyer who represented Pennsylvania. “If this ruling stands, it would mean that the state could be the victim of the largest of frauds and have no means of recovery,” he tells Bloomberg. J&J also faces hundreds of lawsuits filed by consumers, who claims Risperdal risks were downplayed (background here and here).