Pennsylvania court upholds J&J win on Risperdal marketing

Posted: July 28, 2012

Johnson & Johnson celebrated a rare victory Thursday in its multistate court fights over marketing of the antipsychotic drug Risperdal.

Pennsylvania's Commonwealth Court upheld the decisions of two Philadelphia Common Pleas Court judges who collectively, in effect, dismissed a state-sponsored suit alleging that J&J's Janssen subsidiary inappropriately profited from sales through the taxpayer-funded Medicaid program.

"We are very pleased with the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court's unanimous decision that the trial judge was correct in granting our motion for nonsuit, which effectively dismissed the case filed against the company in 2007," Janssen said in a statement.

State officials did not respond to requests for comment, so it was unclear if they will appeal.

Rispderal is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat schizophrenia and bipolar mania, but other states won big-money court fights over allegations that Janssen paid kickbacks to officials or marketed the drug for other ailments, sometimes for use in children. Medicaid is a state-federal health-care program for low-income citizens.

J&J agreed to pay $158 million to stop a trial in Texas. Though appeals are pending, it lost cases in South Carolina ($327 million), Louisiana ($258 million) and Arkansas ($1.2 billion). The company is negotiating with the federal government, and reports suggest it might pay as much as $2.2 billion.

But in Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth Court essentially agreed with J&J attorney Edward Posner of Drinker Biddle, who had argued that the commonwealth had shown "a complete and total failure" to prove its case.


Contact staff writer David Sell at dsell@ phillynews.com or 215-854-4506. Read his blog at www.philly.com/phillypharma and on Twitter @phillypharma.

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