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Drug Company Settles Lawsuit Over Improper Marketing

Drug Company Settles Lawsuit Over Improper Marketing
South Carolina and Montana Among Handful of States That Launched Separate Lawsuits

Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, has reached a $5.9 million settlement in Montana over a lawsuit concerning how it marketed one of its bestselling drugs, the Tampa Bay Tribune reports. State attorneys claimed Janssen improperly marketed its drug Risperdal for use against dementia, childhood conditions, anxiety, and depression despite such uses not being approved by the FDA at the time. South Carolina has already received a judgment against the company.

A Long Line of Lawsuits

The Montana settlement was not the first, nor is it likely to be the last, lawsuit to conclude against Janssen over Risperdal. In November, according to Bloomberg News, the pharmaceutical company settled with the Department of Justice for $2.2 billion in what was the third-largest settlement ever involving a drug company.

In that case, the DOJ was joined by 45 states; however, a handful of states including South Carolina decided to pursue their own litigation proceedings against the drug company. Montana is the latest state to come to its own settlement with Janssen.

In June 2011, a South Carolina judge ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $327 million in fines. An Arkansas court, meanwhile, ordered the company to pay $1.2 billion. Johnson & Johnson is currently appealing both of those rulings.

Company Put Patients at Risk

Risperdal was once the company's best-selling drug, but the FDA had previously only approved it for use in managing psychotic disorders, which was a relatively limited market. Janssen instead began marketing the drug for use against dementia, bipolar disorder, and mood and anxiety disorders, all of which have a much bigger market.

Marketing the drugs in such a way was illegal and because Risperdal was linked to rapid weight gain and diabetes it also put patients at risk. The drug maker specifically targeted doctors to prescribe Risperdal to children for mental health disorders, despite the drug not being approved by the FDA for such use at the time. Risperdal was only approved for use in children in 2006.

While physicians are allowed to prescribe drugs for any condition, the drug companies themselves can only market their products for uses approved by the FDA.

Victims Deserve Compensation

The conduct of Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals highlights the dangers that can arise when drug companies put profits ahead of public safety. In the above cases, the drug companies overlooked the potential dangers of improperly marketing a drug to certain patients.

Anybody who has suffered injuries in South Carolina because they were prescribed a drug that later turned out to be dangerous to their health should obtain legal advice as quickly as possible. Drug companies are liable for making sure that their products are safe and are marketed properly. Consumers who were misled and perhaps even injured as a result of an improperly marketed drug have the right to seek financial compensation. A lawyer with experience in drug litigation can give guidance to clients about what legal options are available.