SC seeks possible billions in drug marketing suit

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A Spartanburg County judge is considering state attorneys' arguments that a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary should pay South Carolina billions of dollars for deceptive marketing of an antipsychotic drug.

Last month, a jury ruled that the New Brunswick, N.J.-based company violated South Carolina's Unfair Trade Practices Act when it gave doctors and patients deceptive information about Risperdal's effectiveness and also minimized the risks of diabetes.

A judge has said he will rule later on the state's damages. With penalties up to $5,000 apiece, damages could be in the billions if a judge takes into consideration the hundreds of thousands of violations prosecutors say occurred.

Drug company lawyers say no one in South Carolina was harmed by its Risperdal marketing and that fines shouldn't be severe.

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