SC high court further reduces penalty in drug marketing case

COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina’s highest court has further reduced the penalty against a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary accused of deceptive drug marketing.

The state Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that Janssen Pharmaceutica, Inc. should be assessed about $124 million in penalties.

In 2011, a trial court ordered the drug maker to pay $327 million, saying Janssen broke the law by downplaying to doctors the links between diabetes and Risperdal and by improperly claiming the drug was safer than competing medications.

Company attorneys argued the award should be overturned, saying Janssen meant no harm and hurt no one. In February, the high court more than cut in half the penalties, saying Janssen should pay South Carolina $136 million.

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In Wednesday’s opinion, justices reduced civil penalties on the labeling claim by $12 million.