Pharmaceutical powerhouse Johnson & Johnson (J&J) continues to defend against a barrage of lawsuits pertaining to their Risperdal marketing campaigns. In the latest case, lawyers representing the state of South Carolina are alleging that J&J’s Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals division engaged in “unfair and deceptive acts”.
The acts in question regard a letter that was sent to over 7,000 doctors in the state of South Carolina back in 2003. At the heart of the issue was a statement made in the letter that touted Risperdal as the safest and most effective medication for the treatment of schizophrenia. The state believes J&J deliberately misled doctors in an attempt to protect billions of dollars in revenue of the antipsychotic drug. As a result, a jury concluded that J&J violated consumer-protection laws when doctors received the allegedly misleading letter.
In response to the J&J letter, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) replied with a letter of their own. Intended as a deliberate warning, the FDA claimed that J&J intentionally misled the doctors of South Carolina by minimizing the potentially fatal risks associated with diabetes to drive up Risperdal sales.
South Carolina’s unfair trade practices law can potentially cost J&J’s Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals division as much as $5,000 for each misleading letter it sent in 2003. However, the final financial-penalty verdict will not be made until after the April 18th hearing.