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Johnson & Johnson agrees to $181 million settlement over Risperdal

When it comes to prescription medications, every step of the process matters. How they are tested, how they are manufactured, how they are marketed and how they are prescribed. Prescription medications taken for the wrong illness or by the wrong person can have serious consequences.

When medical experts learned that Johnson & Johnson were marketing an antipsychotic drug for unapproved uses, it was no surprise that it quickly became a civil litigation issue. The large corporation was sued in a lawsuit joined by 36 states and the District of Columbia alleging improper marketing.

The antipsychotic drug that acted as the basis for the lawsuit was Risperdal. At the peak of its sale history, the drug brought in $4 billion in sales per year. Since then, the sales have fallen as generic versions of the drug were introduced. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration must approve the specific uses for medication that a manufacturer can market, but the healthcare company began marketing the drug for non-FDA approved uses.

A settlement was reached this week that will end the civil litigation. The healthcare company agreed to pay $181 million under the terms of the settlement. The company also agreed not to market other, newer antipsychotic drugs for off-label uses. Although they did not specifically admit to doing so in the past, the company promised that no false or misleading claims would be made about the medications.

"We have chosen this path to achieve a prompt and full resolution of these state claims," said a company representative. It is unclear at this point how the funds will be allocated.

Source: News and Insight, "J&J to pay $181 mln to settle improper marketing claims," Bill Berkrot and Ransdell Pierson, Aug. 30, 2012

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