News Feature | January 30, 2014

Louisiana Supreme Court Throws Out Anti-Pharma Ruling

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By Marcus Johnson

Louisiana’s Supreme Court decided to throw out the ruling of a lower local ruling that the pharmaceutical companies operating within the state would have to pay out more than $330 million to the state and federal government. Almost one third of the payout would have gone to covering attorney fees for the state.

The initial lawsuit claimed that pharmaceutical companies operating in the state of Louisiana were making improper claims about the drug Rispedral, which acts as an anti-psychotic. The state government argued that, since drug companies had misrepresented the drug and its properties, the state prescribed it to individuals who shouldn’t have been taking it. Further, the state said that the motivation for the misrepresentation was profit, since Rispedral was then prescribed by doctors taking part in Medicaid programs which paid for patient drugs.

The Louisiana Supreme Court’s ruling did not claim that the pharmaceutical industry did not misrepresent the Rispedral drug, but rather the Supreme Court argued that the state Medical Assistance Programs Integrity Law did not apply. This rendered the lower court’s ruling null and void.

However, there was disagreement within the state Supreme Court. Justice Jefferson Hughes wrote the minority dissent opinion, which stood in opposition to the court’s majority ruling. “It is the duty of the legislature, not judges, to make the law. Judges may not like the law, they may even consider it unwise, but they have a duty to apply the law as written. Judicial re-writing of the law to achieve a desired result and overturn a jury verdict is inimical to our system of separated powers,” said Hughes.

Sources:

http://www.lasc.org/opinions/2014/12C2447_cw_12C2466.opn.pdf

http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2014/01/louisiana_supreme_court_pharma.html

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