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Litigation

South Carolina Judge: $327 Million Penalty Due For Marketing Of Risperdal

SPARTANBURG, S.C. - (Mealey's) A South Carolina state court judge on June 3 ordered the Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson to pay $327,073,700 for violating the state's Unfair Trade Practices Act by using deceptive practices to market the atypical antipsychotic drug Risperdal in the state (State of South Carolina, ex rel. Alan Wilson v. Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., et al., No. 07-CP-42-1438, S.C. Cir, Spartanburg Co.).

The jury also found that the violations of the South Carolina Unfair Trade Practices Act were willful, that the Risperdal label or package insert was unfair or deceptive and that the defendant willfully violated the Unfair Trade Practices Act. 

The penalty was to be determined by Judge Roger L. Couch. 

For the deceptive label, Judge Couch penalized Ortho-McNeil-Janssen $300 for each of the 509,499 sample boxes of Risperdal distributed in South Carolina from 1999 until April 2007, for a total of $152,849,700. 

Judge Couch said there clearly were other occasions when Ortho-McNeil-Janssen distributed deceptive labels, including publication in the Physician's Desk Reference and the defendant's website, but to find those violations would require speculation.  He said the number of Risperdal samples given away in South Carolina is known. 

For the deceptive "dear doctor" letters, Judge Couch found that in South Carolina there were 7,184 letters mailed and 36,372 sales calls to doctors in which letters were distributed, for a total of 43,566 publications.  He assessed a penalty of $4,000 for each deceptive "dear doctor" letter, for a total of $174,224,000. 

[Editor's Note:  Full coverage will be in the June 16 issue of Mealey's Emerging Drugs & Devices.  In the meantime, the order is available at www.mealeysonline.com or by calling the Customer Support Department at 1-800-833-9844.  Document #28-110616-001R.  For all of your legal news needs, please visit www.lexisnexis.com/mealeys.] 

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