Janssen Loses Attempt to Overturn $124M Risperdal Verdict

South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson announced last month that settlement had finally been reached with Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals in the state’s Risperdal case, ending a nine-year-long legal battle. The end came when the U.S. Supreme Court denied Janssen’s attempt to get a $124 million Risperdal verdict overturned, and the company’s final hope for appeal was exhausted on January 12, 2016.

The case involved claims that the Risperdal maker had used aggressive marketing techniques to market the anti-psychotic drug to doctors, in an effort to persuade them to prescribe the drug to their patients. Janssen allegedly sent more than 7,000 letters overstating the efficacy of Risperdal to doctors, according to court documents.

History of Risperdal Claim

South Carolina initially filed the Risperdal complaint in 2007, pursuing civil penalties on two different claims of illegal marketing practices:

  • The first claim was based upon the content of the written material accompanying Risperdal prescriptions since 1994, the year the drug was first introduced to the market.
  • The second claim arose from allegedly false information included in a letter J&J subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals sent to South Carolina’s prescribing physicians in 2003.

When the state of South Carolina won the verdict in 2011, Janssen was ordered to pay $327 million in damages, or 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.

Janssen has been fighting the verdict in the case brought by the state of South Carolina since 2011, and in February 2015, the penalty was reduced to $136 million. Less than six months later, in July 2015, the South Carolina Supreme Court reduced the penalty even further, this time to $124 million. The justices explained that the need for a reduction was due to a recalculation of the original assessment.