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Johnson & Johnson fined more than $1 billion in Risperdal case


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Scott Olson

An Arkansas judge on Wednesday fined Johnson & Johnson and a subsidiary more than $1.1 billion after a jury found that the companies downplayed and hid risks associated with taking the antipsychotic drug Risperdal.

Judge Tim Fox determined that Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary, Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., committed nearly 240,000 violations of the state's Medicaid fraud law or one for each Risperdal prescription issued to state Medicaid patients over a 3½-year period, The Associated Press reported.

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Each violation came with a $5,000 fine, setting the total penalty at more than $1.1 billion, according to the AP.

Fox issued an additional $11 million fine for more than 4,500 violations under the state's deceptive practices act, the AP reported.

Arkansas sued Johnson & Johnson and the subsidiary in 2007 over the drug, Fort Smith, Ark., TV station KHBS reported.

Previous Risperdal verdicts against Johnson & Johnson include a $327 million civil penalty in South Carolina. Texas reached a $158 million settlement with Janssen in January, KHBS reported.

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Attorneys for the state declined to immediately comment about the huge award after the hearing.

Janssen issued a statement to the AP that read, "We are disappointed with the judge's decision on penalties. If our motion for a new trial is denied, we will appeal."