As expected, the South Carolina trial judge denied post-trial motions to overturn a $327 million civil penalty against Johnson & Johnson, which was found to have overstated the claims about its antipsychotic drug, Risperdal. The award was $4,000 for each of over 43,000 letters pushing Risperdal that J&J sent to doctors, plus $300 each for 509,000 free samples given to doctors that contained detailed package inserts.
Still, J&J made a fortune off of Risperdal, pulling in as much as $3.4 billion a year in sales. Think about that. It is more than a third the size of the NFL and chances are you have never heard of Risperdal. It had ten good years of sales.
The problem, ultimately, is that from an economic standpoint and assuming J&J has no moral compass at all (I don’t assume this, by the way), was it still a good play to put Risperdal on the market and push it as they did? Arguably, even after all the pain (more might come in a lawsuit brought by the country state of Texas), it still probably makes economic sense. That’s the problem.