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After nine years, Janssen settles South Carolina's Risperdal case for $124M

By Annie Hunt | Mar 14, 2016

COLUMBIA, S.C. (Legal Newsline) — South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson announced last month that he and Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals have finally reached a settlement in the state's Risperdal case, ending a nine-year legal battle.

In a letter dated Feb. 16, Wilson informed Spartanburg County Clerk M. Hope Blackley that the defendant will pay $124,324,700 in satisfaction of the settlement to South Carolina, which alleged the illegal promotion of the anti-psychotic prescription drug for unapproved uses.

“We are pleased to have this matter put to bed. This landmark case has established guidelines that will be used for years to come,” Wilson said in a statement sent to Legal Newsline.

After South Carolina initially won in 2011 in the state’s 7th Judicial Circuit Court, Janssen began appealing the original $327 million judgment.

Representing Wilson's office are Bailey Perrin Bailey of Houston; Harrison, White, Smith & Coggins of Spartanburg; and John Simmons of Columbia, S.C.

“This resolution puts this long and difficult legal process, lasting more than nine years, to rest and avoids further protracted litigation," Wilson said. "South Carolina has been and will continue to be known as a business-friendly state where consumers are protected."

The crux of the lawsuit argues that the company was using aggressive marketing techniques to persuade doctors to prescribe the drug to their patients, including children with disabilities and elderly dementia patients. The company sent more than 7,000 letters to doctors, allegedly overstating the efficacy of Ridperdal without FDA approval.

The final settlement comes shortly after the Washington Legal Foundation filed a friend-of-the-court brief earlier this year to the U.S. Supreme Court to support overturning what the state Supreme Court lowered to a $124 million verdict in 2015.

Richard Samp, chief counsel at the WLF, spoke to Legal Newsline after filing the brief and claimed that the letters were not adequately proven to have been fraudulent, that the ruling was excessive and an infringement of Eighth Amendment rights.

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