It's now up to a Spartanburg County judge to decide how much a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary should pay South Carolina for deceptive marketing of an antipsychotic drug. If the judge agrees with attorneys for the state, that number could be in the billions of dollars.
Last month, a jury ruled that Janssen Pharmaceutica, Inc. - a subsidiary of the New Brunswick, N.J.-based drug manufacturer - had violated the South Carolina Unfair Trade Practices Act by sending misleading letters to about 7,200 doctors in South Carolina downplaying the links between diabetes and its schizophrenia drug Risperdal.
The blockbuster antipsychotic lost patent protection in 2008. Johnson & Johnson said last month that Risperdal Consta, the long-acting version of the drug, generated $1.5 billion in sales last year.
The company also made tens of thousands of drug marketing-related phone calls that minimized Risperdal's link to diabetes, improperly claimed the drug was safer than other competing medications, and enclosed misleading information inside drug packages, the jury found.
In the Nov. 10, 2003, letter, a Janssen official said research showed Risperdal was not associated with an increased risk of diabetes when compared to other drugs or patients receiving no treatment at all.