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SC Court To Hear Appeal of $327 Million Dangerous Drug Lawsuit

J&J Subsidiary Will Appeal Ruling in 2011 Dangerous Drug Lawsuit in South Carolina

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Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, will appeal a 2011 ruling in a dangerous drugs case in which the manufacturer was ordered to pay millions of dollars to the state for deceptive marketing practices.

On Thursday, March 21, 2013, the South Carolina state Supreme Court will hear an appeal from attorneys for Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc, in which the attorneys are expected to argue that the $327 million penalty is invalid.

Prosecutors in the case argue that the penalty should stand, so that Janssen Pharmaceuticals, and other pharmaceutical manufacturers, know that they cannot break state laws with false marketing of dangerous drugs.

The Dangerous Drug Lawsuit in 2011

Janssen Pharmaceuticals produced a blockbuster anti-psychotic drug called Risperdal. The drug was first launched in 1994, and lost patent protection in 2008. Johnson & Johnson, and its subsidiary Janssen, marketed the drug as much safer than alternative anti-psychotics, as well as more effective. The drug was widely used to treat schizophrenia, irritability related to autism, and bipolar disorder.

However, the drug was linked to an increased risk of diabetes. The dangerous drug can also make existing diabetes worse.

In a state that currently ranks 8th in the nation for obesity rates, with between three and four people dying each day from diabetes-related complications, additional risk of developing diabetes is a very serious side effect. South Carolina lawyers argued that Risperdal’s label downplayed the risk of diabetes and heart disease. A 2003 letter from Janssen to South Carolina doctors further violated consumer protection laws in the state by suggesting that Risperdal was superior to other anti-psychotic drugs, encouraging doctors to prescribe the name brand over alternatives.

The drugmaker’s executives “allowed the profit-at-all- costs mentality to cloud” their judgment in connection with the drug’s marketing campaign and its labeling, Judge Roger Couch said in his 17-page ruling. Couch stated that the letter was “a clever effort” to “manipulate the message” about the dangerous drug.

Couch awarded South Carolina $4,000 per violation. The state won $174.2 million in penalties for the letter, and $152.8 million for misrepresentation on the label.

Now, J&J will contest the ruling.

“There was no evidence that any South Carolina physician was deceived or was likely to be deceived,” attorneys wrote. “There was no evidence that any patient suffered any injury as a result of anything that Janssen did or said.”

According to Janssen’s lawyers, the FDA approved the marketing tactics and the label, and since they are a federal agency, a state court cannot penalize the manufacturer.

The Strom Law Firm Can Help with Dangerous Drug Cases

Strom Law Firm, L.L.C. is a leader in the consumer protection battle against dangerous prescription drugs and medical devices, like Risperdal. We represent individuals who have been killed or injured by dangerous or defective pharmaceuticals. If you or a family member have been injured or killed after using a dangerous drugs or medical products such as Omontys, contact our dangerous drug lawyers as soon as possible so that we can begin taking steps to preserve evidence and your claim immediately. We offer free consultations to discuss the facts of your case. 803.252.4800

About Pete Strom

Defending criminal charges including drug crimes, DUI, CDV, mail fraud, wire fraud, bank fraud, computer crimes, money laundering, and juvenile crimes, Pete also handles Federal and State investigations. Representing individuals in Civil Matters including Class Actions, Personal Injury, Qui Tam Actions, Defective Products, Nursing Home Neglect, and Professional Licensing Defense cases. Joseph Preston “Pete” Strom, Jr., the managing partner at Strom Law Firm, L.L.C., has been fighting for justice since 1984.

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