J&J Is Ordered to Pay $327 Million on Risperdal Deceptive-Marketing Claims
By Jef Feeley and Steven Church
June 3, 2011
A Johnson & Johnson unit must pay more than $327 million in penalties for deceptively marketing the antipsychotic drug Risperdal as safer and better than competing medicines, a South Carolina judge ruled. J&J’s Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals unit repeatedly violated South Carolina’s consumer-protection laws by sending a 2003 letter to doctors touting Risperdal as superior to rival drugs and including deceptive information in the product’s warning label, Judge Roger Couch in Spartanburg, South Carolina, concluded.
“We don’t believe that the dissemination of an FDA approved package insert constitutes a violation of the South Carolina Trade Practices Act,” Kara Russell, a spokeswoman for Janssen said in an e-mailed statement. “We do not believe the ruling can be upheld on appeal.”South Carolina’s lawyers, who originally sued the J&J unit in 2007 for making misleading claims about Risperdal, sought billions of dollars in penalties over the marketing.
Risperdal’s global sales peaked at $4.5 billion in 2007 and declined after the company lost patent protection. The drug generated $3.4 billion in sales in 2008, or 5.4 percent of J&J’s total revenue, according to company filings. Sales of the drug fell to $527 million last year, according to a January earnings report…
The case is the third of about 10 state lawsuits to be considered by jurors over J&J’s Risperdal marketing campaigns. In June, J&J won dismissal of Pennsylvania’s suit alleging the company hid the drug’s diabetes risk and tricked regulators into paying millions more than they should have for the medicine. A Louisiana jury in October ordered the drugmaker to pay $257.7 million in damages to that state for making misleading claims about Risperdal’s safety. A judge later added $73 million in legal fees to the award.A West Virginia judge in a 2009 non-jury trial awarded $3.95 million, finding the company misled doctors about the risks and benefits of Risperdal. The state dropped its Risperdal claim after J&J won an appeal, company officials said in February…