- Associated Press - Thursday, April 24, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The Arkansas Supreme Court declined on Thursday to reconsider its decision that threw out a $1.2 billion judgment against a pharmaceutical company accused of improperly marketing an antipsychotic drug.

In a one-sentence order, the court rejected Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel’s request for a rehearing on the case. McDaniel had argued that the court was wrong when it said the state misapplied a Medicaid fraud law in its case against New Jersey-based Johnson & Johnson and subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. over the drug Risperdal.

The high court’s ruling did not elaborate on why the request was denied. McDaniel said his office would refile the lawsuit to pursue claims that the companies violated the state’s deceptive trade practices act.

“I am extremely disappointed that the court decided to deny the petition in this case, considering the basis for the court’s original decision was never addressed until oral argument. That parted with longstanding precedent, and it was impossible for either party to adequately respond to the concerns raised at that time,” McDaniel said in a statement.

He said that establishes a precedent that creates uncertainty for businesses.

Janssen said it was committed to providing safe drugs that comply with state and federal laws and regulations.

“This case was thoroughly reviewed by the Supreme Court in its original decision, and we are pleased the court has decided not to grant a rehearing of the matter,” the company said in a statement.

Arkansas won the judgment against Risperdal by claiming Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. didn’t properly communicate the drug’s risks and shouldn’t have marketed it for off-label use. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox then ordered the companies to pay $5,000 for each of the 240,000 Risperdal prescriptions for which Arkansas’ Medicaid program paid during a 3½-year span, but the state’s high court threw out that judgment last month.

The company said there was no fraud and that Arkansas’ Medicaid program wasn’t harmed.

Risperdal was introduced in 1994 as a “second-generation” antipsychotic drug, and it earned Johnson & Johnson billions of dollars in sales before generic versions became available. The drug is used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and irritability in autism patients.

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