Approximately 500 plaintiffs have lawsuits pending before Judge Arnold New in the court. They are all affected by the ruling, in which the judge found that New Jersey law regarding punitive damages would apply to the Risperdal lawsuits. That law states that punitive damages cannot be awarded in claims linked to drugs that were subject to pre-market approval by the FDA.
Although the lawsuits are being heard in Pennsylvania, Janssen Pharmaceuticals has two facilities in New Jersey, where marketing for Risperdal took place. As such, the defendants argued that New Jersey law regarding punitive damages should be enforced.
The judge agreed with the defendants and found that the plaintiffs cannot be awarded punitive damages. The ruling, however, is not a statement on the merits of the lawsuits.
Janssen has reportedly settled around 80 Risperdal lawsuits, a few of which were settled just as the specific lawsuit was set to begin. New lawsuits are expected to begin in the summer of 2014. Some lawsuits filed against Janssen allege the company marketed the drug for off-label uses in young boys and then caused abnormal breast tissue growth in that same population. They further allege physicians were not warned about the risks associated with prescribing Risperdal to young boys.
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The lawsuit is In re: Risperdal Litigation, case number 100300296.
In 2013, Johnson & Johnson, parent company to Janssen, agreed to a settlement with the US government to end allegations that the company illegally marketed Risperdal. The company agreed to pay $2.2 billion to settle allegations it marketed its drug, which was approved to treat schizophrenia in adults, as a treatment for symptoms linked to dementia and anxiety.
In one state, however, an award linked to illegal marketing of Risperdal was overturned. The Arkansas Supreme Court overturned the $1.2 billion judgment against Johnson & Johnson after finding that the law under which the state sued the drugmaker applied to health care facilities and not pharmaceutical companies.