Johnson & Johnson recently paid $2.2 billion to settle a decade-long investigation into the company’s illegal promotion of the drug Risperdal. The settlement was split between the federal government and multiple states and was the largest of its kind in U.S. history. The company also failed to disclose certain possible health risks from taking the drug, leading to millions of dollars in private settlements paid to individuals who experienced severe side effects.
Risperdal, the name used for the drug risperidone, is an antipsychotic medication prescribed to treat patients with schizophrenia and certain problems caused by bipolar disorder. Johnson & Johnson aggressively marketed the drug from 1999-2005 for use in elderly patients with dementia and children with disabilities, despite not receiving approval for childhood use until 2006. The government investigations revealed that Johnson & Johnson offered sales representatives incentives to promote unapproved uses to doctors, paid kickbacks to nursing home pharmacies, and offered doctors trips and monetary reward if they prescribed Risperdal to more patients. Onmicare, the leading long term care pharmacy in the U.S., paid $98 million to settle charges that it received compensation for pushing physicians to prescribe Risperdal to nursing home patients.
In the first personal injury lawsuit to go to trial, a 21-year-old male claimed that Risperdal caused him to develop gynecomastia, a condition were boys or men experience swelling of the breast tissue, caused by an imbalance of the hormones estrogen and testosterone. He was prescribed Risperdal at age 9 even though it was not approved for use by children at the time. He claimed the drug caused pain, rapid weight gain, damage to his endocrine system, and emotional trauma. Johnson & Johnson agreed to settle his case on the first day of trial, and later that same month paid settlements in five other personal injury cases involving Risperdal. Under the agreements, the settlement amounts for each case were kept confidential and Johnson & Johnson was not required to admit any wrongdoing. The company continues to deny liability for Risperdal injuries.
In an attempt to expose potential conflicts of interest in healthcare, the Affordable Care Act requires full disclosure of financial relationships between drug makers and physicians. Patients who develop gynecomastia following Risperdal use continue to seek compensation for physical and emotional injuries. Settlements typically include financial compensation, medical treatment, and counseling services.
If you wish to learn more about legal options available to those affected by the use of Risperdal or other dangerous and defective drugs, contact the Louisville, Kentucky personal injury lawyers at Thomas Law Offices for more information.