Today was day three in a three week trial that is pitting Arkansas' Attorney General against health care giant Johnson and Johnson.
Both sides are doing battle over one of the company's best-selling medications…and whether it was properly marketed.
The little pill Risperdal is a big seller.
For more than a decade Risperdal has been used in Arkansas to help treat people suffering from psychological problems.
Risperdal is federally approved for treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. But Arkansas' attorney general alleges that drug reps were promoting and doctors were prescribing Risperdal for other, unapproved uses.
And Medicaid money was paying for a lot of it.
Other states have sued too. Pennsylvania lost its case, but Louisiana and South Carolina won record judgments. And a suit in Texas was settled this week before a jury could render a verdict.
But there has been no successful settlement in Arkansas.
So attorneys defending Risperdal are arguing before a judge and jury in Little Rock this week that the assertions being made the drug are wrong…that the drug has been marketed correctly and its benefits far outweigh any risks.
Attorneys for the state are also working to convince jurors that side-effects of the drug were down played risks like substantial weight gain, diabetes and an increased risk of heart attacks and strokes in elderly patients.
The stakes are high…with a record award likely should attorneys for Arkansas prevail.
Any such award will benefit the state's Medicaid program.
Air date: March 29th, 2012
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