Monday, November 16, 2009

J&J - Risperdal: mis-selling mistrial mid-trial

Johnson & Johnson won a mid-trial dismissal of a lawsuit by a sales representative who claimed she was fired for blowing the whistle on the company’s promotion of the antipsychotic drug Risperdal for unapproved uses.

Superior Court Judge Darlene Pereksta today threw out Lynn Powell’s lawsuit at the end of a three-week trial in Trenton, New Jersey. The jury hadn’t yet heard closing arguments or started deliberations. Powell, 36, claimed she was fired in 2004 for protesting so-called off-label sales.

Powell didn’t testify at the trial, which began Oct. 27. Pereksta ruled that Powell failed to prove she engaged in whistle-blowing as defined in New Jersey’s Conscientious Employee Protection Act. Her failure to take the witness stand prevented jurors from weighing her claims that she tried to disclose her concerns about off-label marketing, the judge said.

“Had she testified as to her intent, the jury could have assessed her credibility,” Pereksta said. “Without any testimony as to her intent, the jury is left to speculate.”

J&J, the world’s largest health-products company, said Powell was fired by its Janssen Pharmaceutica unit for violating company policy against off-label marketing, a widespread practice in the industry. Risperdal was the fourth-biggest seller for New Brunswick, New Jersey-based J&J in 2008, with sales of $3.4 billion.

The Powell lawsuit was the first Risperdal sales case to go before a jury.

More at Bloomberg

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