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Connecticut joins multi-state drug settlement against J&J

Connecticut has joined 33 other states and the District of Columbia in a settlement against a subsidiary of pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson (J&J).

A recent press release from the state's Office of the Attorney General chronicles the details of the settlement, described as the largest-ever consumer protection agreement executed between multiple states and a major drug maker.

The settlement centrally involves the antipsychotic drugs Risperdal and Invega, manufactured by J&J subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. At the heart of a lengthy investigation and settlement negotiations were allegations that consumers were at risk of serious personal injury from "off-label" uses of the drugs to treat conditions and disorders for which the pharmaceuticals had never been sufficiently tested to ensure safety.

Off-label drug use -- use for a treatment never approved by the FDA -- is legal when prescribed by a doctor, but illegal when promoted by a drug company.

"The law prohibits off-label marketing for a reason: to protect the health and safety of consumers," said Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen following announcement of the settlement.

Although Risperdal and Invega were approved by the FDA as antipsychotic medications, Janssen subsequently engaged in a widespread advertising and marketing campaign to increase the drugs' sales for other, unapproved uses. Those uses included the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, anxiety and depression.

Johnson & Johnson is now looking at a required outlay of $181 million to settle the states' claims of deceptive marketing.

Connecticut's share of the total will be approximately $3.5 million.

Source: Stamford Patch, "Connecticut receives $3.5 million in drug settlement," Sept. 2, 2012

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