Arkansas sues J&J over Risperdal

Atypical antipsychotics are back in the news today: the Arkansas attorney general has filed suit against Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceutica, alleging that the companies marketed Risperdal improperly. AG Dustin McDaniel is asking a state judge to force the two companies to repay millions Arkansas Medicaid paid for unnecessary prescriptions.

McDaniel didn't mince words in the suit. He accused the companies of engaging "in a direct, illegal, nationwide program" of promoting Risperdal for "non-medically necessary uses." Essentially, the AG says that drug reps pushed Risperdal for off-label uses, inducing docs to put patients on the drug needlessly. The suit also claims that the drug makers didn't include warnings of neurological problems, weight gain and diabetes on Risperdal's label. Worse, the Attorney General accuses J&J of fabricating clinical trial data to make it look like Risperdal had fewer side effects than other antipsychotics.

Janssen says it's always been committed to ethical behavior, and it's prepared to defend itself in this case. It'll be interesting to see what court documents reveal as the suit unfolds.

- read the AP report