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Supreme Court Denies Janssen’s $124 Million Risperdal Appeal

scales and gavel

Johnson & Johnson’s attempt to get the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a $124 million Risperdal verdict has been denied. The pharmaceutical giant has been fighting the verdict in the case brought by the state of South Carolina since 2011. The company’s final hope for an appeal was officially exhausted on Jan. 12.

South Carolina filed the Risperdal complaint against J&J in 2007. The state pursued civil penalties on two different claims of illegal marketing practices.

The first stemmed from the content of the written material of Risperdal prescriptions since 1994 — the year the anti-psychotic drug hit the market. The second was based on allegedly false information included in a letter Janssen sent to the state’s prescribing physicians in November 2003.

Janssen’s penalty reduced twice

The state of South Carolina first won the verdict in 2011 and J&J was ordered to pay $327 million in damages. The original judgment was calculated by Circuit Judge Roger Couch, assessing a $300 fine for every sample box of Risperdal that was distributed and a $4,000 fine per copy of the letter sent to prescribing physicians. In total, the $327 million penalty was the most significant in South Carolina history and the largest judgment imposed for a violation of the South Carolina Unfair Trade Practices Act. Janssen’s lawyers fought to overturn the verdict, claiming the company meant no intentional harm and its actions didn’t hurt anyone.

The case was heard by the South Carolina Supreme Court in February 2015, where the penalty was drastically reduced to $136 million. Despite upholding the ruling of the jury, the Supreme Court cited a provision in the state law that action cannot be taken in cases of this manner after three years of the finding of illegal conduct.

Less than six months later, in July 2015, the South Carolina Supreme Court reduced the amount of the penalty against Janssen again — this time to $124 million. The justices said the need for a reduction was caused by a recalculation of the original assessment.

At the time, Janssen spokeswoman Robyn Frenze told the Associated Press the company was pleased that the penalty was lowered, but still felt it should be dismissed entirely.

“As we have maintained from the outset of this case, we believe that we did not violate South Carolina’s Unfair Trade Practices Act, and are reviewing all of our legal options going forward,” she said.

Risperdal lawsuits in courts throughout the country

The State of South Carolina isn’t the only one who has filed a Risperdal lawsuit against Janssen. In 2013, the company reached a $181 million settlement with 36 states — not including South Carolina — and Washington, D.C., but admitted no wrongdoing.

In 2014, the company also settled a $5.9 million lawsuit with the State of Montana.

Despite a number of losses in the courtroom, the outcome of some Risperdal lawsuits have been in Janssen’s favor. In 2014, the Arkansas Supreme Court ruled not to overturn its decision to dismiss a $1.2 billion judgement against the company and the Louisiana Supreme Court reversed a $330 million judgment against it. Two comparable cases in Pennsylvania and West Virginia were ultimately dismissed.

  1. Reuters, U.S. Justices Reject Johnson & Johnson Unit’s Anti-Psychotic Drug Appeal

  2. Reuters, South Carolina Court Orders Johnson & Johnson to Pay $136 Million in Risperdal Case

  3. Associated Press, SC High Court Further Reduces Penalty in Drug Marketing Case

  4. Montana Department of Justice, Attorney General Fox Announces $5.9 Million Pharmaceutical Settlement; Launches New Rx Drug Abuse Prevention Program