Mar 6, 2014 2:52 PM by Q2 News

Montana reaches $5.9 million settlement in pharmaceutical case

HELENA - Montana Attorney General Tim Fox said Thursday that a $5.9 million settlement has been reached in a lawsuit filed against a large pharmaceutical company, and money will be used to pay for a new prescription drug abuse prevention program, mental health services and ongoing consumer protection services.

The Attorney General's Office filed a lawsuit in 2008 against Janssen Ortho LLC and Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. The lawsuit alleged the company employed illegal, unfair and deceptive practices in the marketing of Risperdal, an antipsychotic drug used to treat certain psychological disorders in adults.

The lawsuit alleged Janssen deceived Montana physicians and consumers when it promoted Risperdal as safe and effective for a variety of conditions, but was aware that research showed dangers associated with its use and hid that research from the public.

Janssen's own studies of Risperdal demonstrated it had the potential to cause weight gain and diabetes, cerebrovascular complications in the elderly, as well as other severe adverse side effects.

Last month, Janssen agreed to settle the lawsuit for $5.9 million. The settlement also restricts Janssen from making misleading claims in the promotion of its drugs, and present information about the benefits and risks of its product in promotional materials.

Janssen did not admit wrongdoing through the settlement.

Fox said about $1.5 million of the settlement will be used to bolster the state's Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Program. A public education specialist will be hired to create a student education program, look for ways to expand prescription drug drop box locations across the state, and create a public awareness campaign about the dangers of prescription drug addiction.

"All too often, drug abuse begins in our own homes with the misuse of prescription drugs found in our medicine cabinets," Fox said. "Almost eight percent of Montana's youth between the ages of 12 - 17 recently reported abusing prescription drugs. We need to do more to educate them, and their parents, about the dangers of these drugs. The Janssen settlement funds give us the resources we need to address the issue and focus on providing meaningful solutions."

Another nearly $1.5 million of the settlement funds will be used for mental health services and programs through the Montana Mental Health Trust.

Additionally, $675,000 of the settlement will be used for on-going consumer protection education and enforcement efforts.

And $825,275 will reimburse the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services for Medicaid money spent purchasing the anti-psychotic drug. The settlement also covers litigation costs.

"This settlement is not only significant in terms of the amount of money Montana will receive, but also in that it protects our citizens from being prescribed Risperdal based on the types of false statements Janssen previously made to our healthcare providers," Fox said.


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