A drug company accused of fraudulently promoting the antipsychotic Risperdal for use in Texas's Medicaid system has settled a state Attorney General's lawsuit for $158 million.
The AG's office, one of several across the country to sue Janssen Pharmaceuticals (a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson) for fraudulent marketing, had sought $1 billion. Although the suit was filed in 2006, the trial only began January 9.
As we reported in December, the marketing leading to Risperdal's inclusion in the Texas Medication Algorithm Project was fraught with conflicts of interest among state officials and academic researchers, some of whom were involved in carving out the latest prescription medication parameters for children in the state foster care system. Although TMAP was officially jettisoned in 2010, the state still pays for foster kids as young as two to take psychotropic drugs, sometimes without a diagnosis.
According to a statement by Janssen, the settlement covers "alleged Medicaid overpayment" from 1994 to 2004, and will "circumvent potentially lengthy and costly appellate activities....Janssen is committed to ethical business practices and has policies in place to ensure its products are only promoted for their FDA-approved indications."
We're not disagreeing with that last statement. They probably do have policies in place. It just doesn't look like they were followed....