Record-breaking civil penalties amounting to over $327m have been announced in the groundbreaking case between the US state of South Carolina vs Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a unit of Johnson & Johnson.

The case focuses upon violations found with drug labels and “dear doctor” letters that actively marketed the antipsychotic drug Risperdal in a deceptive manner, claiming that the drug was safer and better than competing medicines.

Circuit Court judge Roger Couch ruled that more than 500,000 package inserts were distributed with sample boxes and levied a $300 charge per violation, adding to a $4,000 charge per violation regarding “dear doctor” letters, of which there were in excess of 43,000.

The total damages represents the largest verdict brought against the company over its Risperdal drug, although the company did confirm in a statement that it would seek to appeal Couch’s verdict.