Arkansas jury hears state's claims against J&J

As a trial over Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) Risperdal marketing opens in Arkansas, the state's lawyers contend that company officials misled doctors about the atypical antipsychotic, defrauding Medicaid and violating Arkansas's deceptive-trade practices law. The state is seeking $1.25 billion in penalties, Bloomberg reports.

J&J has faced similar claims: In South Carolina, a judge ordered the company to pay $327 million in penalties for a letter sent to doctors promoting the drug. A Louisiana jury awarded the state $258 million for misleading claims about Risperdal. The company has appealed both rulings. On the other hand, a Pennsylvania judge tossed that state's claims about J&J's marketing tactics.

Now, Arkansas claims J&J intentionally misled people about Risperdal's safety, putting profits ahead of patients' well-being. But J&J says it included warnings about the drug's risks on its FDA-approved label, and that no one was harmed by its marketing.

"The state will not present any evidence that a single person was injured while taking Risperdal," a J&J attorney told the jury. "There will not be any evidence that the state of Arkansas lost a penny in paying for Risperdal for thousands of Arkansas citizens who needed the drug."

The trial comes amid J&J's negotiations with the Justice Department and a group of state attorneys general to resolve years-long probes into Risperdal marketing. The two sides had tentatively approved a $1 billion deal, but government officials rejected it, sending negotiators back to the drawing table.

- read the Bloomberg coverage

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