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J&J''s Penalty on Risperdal Marketing Violations Postponed

April 20, 2011
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According to Bloomberg, a South Carolina judge deferred a decision on the penalties he will impose on a Johnson & Johnson unit for violating consumer-protection laws in a case in which the attorney general seeks billions of dollars. Circuit Judge Roger Couch ended a two-day hearing by saying Attorney General Alan Wilson and lawyers for J&J’s Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals unit had two more weeks to file written arguments. Jurors ruled March 22 that Janssen sent doctors a misleading letter in 2003 on the safety and effectiveness of its antipsychotic drug Risperdal. The panel also said the letter and the drug’s package label violated the South Carolina Unfair Trade Practices Act. Lawyers for Janssen urged Couch to impose minimal damages. They said the letter sent to 7,194 doctors in South Carolina wasn’t untrue, and that no company had ever faced substantial penalty for a package insert approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. An attorney for South Carolina, Donald Coggins, urged the judge to impose the maximum penalty of $5,000 for each of thousands of violations. Those violations, the state argues, include as many as 722,000 Risperdal prescriptions written, 183,144 calls on doctors by Janssen sales representatives, and 496,565 sample boxes distributed.

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