Johnson & Johnson has agreed to pay over $2.2 billion in fines for both civil and criminal accusations due to the false advertisement of their prescription anti-psychotic drug Risperdal. By paying this fine, J&J is admitting to their false advertisement of this product (also known as risperdone) to age brackets of people that were not approved by the FDA for use. They advertised their drug to be used by older adults as well as children suffering with social disorders such as bipolar or other developmental disabilities.
J&J Admits to Other Acts of Wrong Doing
Not only has Johnson & Johnson admitted to falsely promoting their products to non-FDA approved patients, but they are also choosing to settle criminal and civil claims against their company that accuse them of giving financial kickbacks to Omnicare pharmacy, one of the largest pharmacies in the country. These bribes were given to pharmacists as an exchange for writing patients more prescriptions than needed of the Risperdal drug. J&J will pay $1.72 billion in civil penalties for these kickbacks as well as another $485 million in criminal charges. The company is also believed to be pleading guilty to misdemeanor charges for their specific actions of targeting older patients with Risperdal for a use that was not approved by the FDA.
An Attempt to Hold J&J Executives Accountable for Their Actions
Patrick Burns is the co-director of Taxpayers Against Fraud, an advocacy group representing large corporation whistleblowers. Burns shares his concerns that even though the J&J stockholders and patients will suffer consequences from the actions of J&J, the executives will still go on with their lives, still making money and hefty bonuses. Burns is encouraging the federal government to do their part and hold these men and woman accountable for their actions that have resulted in the harm of so many individuals throughout the country.
Risperdal FDA Approved & Non-Approved Uses
Risperdal was approved in 1993 to be used as an anti-psychotic drug for adults in order to lessen the symptoms of social disorders like bipolar and schizophrenia. At this time, the drug was only approved to be used by adults; it wasn't until 2006 that the FDA allowed for the younger generations to partake in this medication. Unfortunately, J&J went behind the back of the FDA and sought to expand their market of users by advertising their drug to treat dementia in elderly patients, long before it was given the OK by the government. They even went as far as establishing their own sales force called ElderCare in order to promote the use of this drug for elder patients suffering with memory loss and other dementia symptoms.
According to federal investigations, the company was well aware of the dangers of Risperdal in elderly patients, namely the increased risk for strokes, and yet they sought to "play it down" by promoting the benefits of the drug instead. As stated, the drug wasn't approved for child use until 2006, though the company was long promoting its use before that. Janssen, the J&J branch over this drug, encouraged their sales team to specifically target facilities that cared for children in order to market their drug to physicians and mental health specialists, while knowing the possible risks and side effects of the drug. The primary side effect being that it caused male patients to develop high prolactin which resulted in breast tissue growth and milk production hormones.
Taking Legal Action Against the Pharmaceutical Industry
Sadly over the years, a number of large pharmaceutical company's wrongful actions have been brought to light by whistleblowers and civil claims; yet the large corporations have learned little lessons about their actions. Reports share their fears that as long as there is money in it for them, corporations will continue their false promotion and illegal activities. This, however, does not mean that you cannot take action if you have suffered as a result of J&J's false advertising or devastating drug side effects. Please contact Arnold & Itkin LLP today for highly experienced drug injury lawyers you can trust.