J&J to pay $181 million to 36 states, District of Columbia over Risperdal

Thirty-six states and the District of Columbia will share in $181 million that Johnson & Johnson has agreed to pay to resolve allegations of inappropriate marketing of the antipsychotic drug Risperdal.

Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware are among the states that filed similar complaints in their own courts Thursday and will get $8.4 million, $5.3 million, and $4.2 million, respectively. New York will get $9 million.

Johnson & Johnson has headquarters in New Brunswick, N.J.; its Janssen Pharmaceuticals subsidiary, which makes Risperdal, is based in Titusville.

New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa’s complaint, filed in Superior Court in Mercer County, alleged Janssen used “unconscionable business practices and deception,” in violation of that state’s Consumer Fraud Act.

Janssen issued a statement admitting no wrongdoing in reaching the settlement, but it agreed to abide by rules limiting how it can promote its products.

“We have chosen this path to achieve a prompt and full resolution of these state claims and to ensure we continue to focus on our mission of providing medicines to meet the significant unmet needs of many people who suffer from mental illness,” Michael Yang, Janssen president, said in the statement.

This is the latest — but not the last — episode in long-running legal saga for J&J over Risperdal.

Federal and state investigators have been examining the company’s Risperdal marketing practices for almost a decade. They were spurred at least in part by Allen Jones, the former Pennsylvania Office of Inspector General investigator who was fired because he uncovered wrongdoing in how the company marketed the drug through the state’s Medicaid plans.

Thursday’s agreement is separate from a continuing federal investigation that could lead to criminal charges against the company. Reports suggest a settlement of that investigation could reach $2 billion, and Johnson & Johnson has said in SEC filings that it has set aside money to pay the bills.

J&J has said it will appeal big-money losses in separate state cases in South Carolina, Louisiana, and Arkansas; an Arkansas judge penalized the company $1.2 billion. Janssen, however, prevailed in a case brought by Pennsylvania through the Governor’s Office.