A judge has ordered the maker of Risperdal to pay $327 million in civil penalties to the state of South Carolina for its marketing of the antipsychotic drug. The case was filed by the state Attorney General against the maker, Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceutica, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. A jury found that the company violated state deceptive practices laws by making willful misstatements in its product labeling and “dear doctor” letters about the drug’s benefits while minimizing its risks and side effects. The penalty order was issued in June. We reported on the first phase of the trial in a prior issue.
Several states, including Louisiana, have brought similar suits. Louisiana won a $257 million jury verdict in October. In the South Carolina case, Judge Roger L. Couch found penalties of $152 million for the mislabeling of approximately 509,499 boxes ($300 per violation) and $172 million in penalties for 43,556 dear doctor letters ($4,000 per violation). The statute allows civil penalties of up to $5,000 per violation. Annual sales of Risperdal for 2010 totaled $1.5 billion. Approximately 40,000 bottles of the drug were also recalled recently for an “uncharacteristic odor” thought to be caused by trace amounts of a wood preservative.
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