Johnson & Johnson Argues No One in SC Was Harmed in $327 Million Case

Published: Mar 22, 2013

South Carolina's high court should overturn a penalty of hundreds of millions of dollars over deceptive drug marketing in part because the manufacturer didn't mean to deceive anyone, and no one in the state was hurt, an attorney for a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary argued before justices on Thursday. Mitch Brown represents Janssen Pharmaceutica Inc., a subsidiary of New Brunswick, N.J.-based Johnson & Johnson. The drug maker is challenging a Spartanburg County jury's 2011 decision that Janssen broke the law by writing to thousands of South Carolina doctors, downplaying the links between diabetes and its schizophrenia drug Risperdal, and by improperly claiming the drug was safer than competing medications, like Eli Lilly & Co.'s Zyprexa. "The conduct hasn't caused one South Carolinian any harm," Brown told the state Supreme Court. "The state can't get any penalties without showing the element of willfulness. ... There wasn't any evidence that any doctor was misled." Janssen has been litigating throughout the country over its Risperdal marketing, announcing in August a $181 million settlement with 36 states and the District of Columbia. Janssen admitted no wrongdoing, and South Carolina was not part of that deal. First launched in 1994, the blockbuster anti-psychotic drug Risperdal lost patent protection in 2008. Johnson & Johnson has said that Risperdal Consta, the long-acting version of the drug, generated $1.4 billion in sales last year. After the South Carolina jury's decision, a state judge assessed a $327 million penalty against Janssen, the largest drug marketing award in state history and the largest penalty levied for violations of the South Carolina Unfair Trade Practices Act.

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