Another AG sues J&J over Risperdal marketing

Add one to the tally of states suing Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) for alleged marketing violations. Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley has tossed her hat into the Risperdal marketing ring, claiming J&J promoted the antipsychotic drug for off-label uses and swept serious side effects under the rug in the process.

According to the complaint, J&J's Ortho-McNeil-Janssen unit pushed Risperdal as a treatment for elderly dementia patients, a use not only unapproved by FDA, but warned against on the drug's label. The company also promoted Risperdal for off-label use in kids, the suit claims, while failing to disclose "serious risks" including excessive weight gain and diabetes.

The allegations are familiar by now to anyone who's been following the Risperdal lawsuit mess. Several states, including Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Louisiana and South Carolina, have sued the J&J unit, with mixed results; the West Virginia suit was dismissed, while a South Carolina judge levied $327 million in penalties against the company. The next state lawsuit scheduled for trial is in Texas, where the attorney general joined a whistleblower suit.

And all this doesn't include the multiple federal investigations. The Justice Department and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management's inspector general have demanded documents related to Risperdal marketing, and a grand jury subpoenaed witnesses for testimony, the pharma giant disclosed in a recent SEC filing. The company has set aside $1 billion to cover Risperdal-related liabilities.

- get the statement from Coakley's office
- read the Bloomberg story