CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Legal Newsline) – Thanks to a case filed by West Virginia Attorney General Darrell McGraw in 2004, Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay $4.475 million for making false statements to West Virginia physicians.

Brooke Circuit Judge Martin Gaughan made the decision and told the company and its Janssen Pharmaceutica subsidiary to pay the monetary civil penalties for making misleading statements to physicians about two of its products, Risperdal, an antipsychotic drug, and Duragesic, a narcotic pain patch.

"If the FDA has approved a drug for limited purposes and drug manufacturers, in pursuit of profit, market the drug for other purposes, it is false advertising that could put the health and lives of ordinary West Virginians at risk," McGraw said in a press release.

McGraw filed the claim under the West Virginia Consumer Protection Act, which authorizes a penalty of up to $5,000 for each violation. At trial, the parties stipulated to the number or instances that could qualify as violations.

The court notes in its order, "The defendants were twice put on notice by previous [FDA] warning letters that its promotional materials for Duragesic contained false or misleading statements; however ... the defendants then willfully sent the false or misleading Duragesic [brochure] to West Virginia health care providers to make its medication Duragesic more appealing for sale."

The order also finds, "The wording of [the defendants'] November 2003 Risperdal letter was intentionally constructed to modify the FDA's warning language and mislead healthcare professionals, who rely on this information when prescribing medication for their patients."

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