US-based pharmaceutical major Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has been hit with a $1.1bn fine over its deceptive marketing of its antipsychotic drug Risperdal in Arkansas, US.
The charge relates to marketing letters sent to more than 6,000 Arkansas doctors by J&J and its Janssen subsidiary in 2003, claiming Risperdal to possess superior safety over competing drugs.
The company was also found to have made false statements about the drug's side effects and uses, including advising the drug for treatment of various symptoms in children and the elderly that had been banned by authorities.
Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said that the jury concluded that the company had violated consumer protection laws and lied to patients and doctors in order to secure profits.
Risperdal has proven to be a costly drug for the company in recent years, with multiple claims regarding misleading advertising being made against the company.
The case follows South Carolina and Louisiana suing the company for $327m and $258m respectively after the company was found to have misled state Medicaid programmes by downplaying the drug's risks.
J&J are in the process of disputing these claims, but was forced to pay out $158m in Texas to resolve illegal marketing claims. J&J confirmed that it will also dispute the Arkansas ruling, with J&J spokeswoman Teresa Mueller informing Bloomberg: ""It is our position that an individual state should not penalise a pharmaceutical company for using an FDA-approved package insert or decide for itself whether a company complies with FDA rules."