Helen Jones, Executive Vice President
Johnson & Johnson (J&J), the multi-billion dollar powerhouse corporation, has found itself paying a hefty sum over illegal marketing practices of their drug Risperdal. Risperdal, which was released by J&J in 1994, is a medication used to treat schizophrenia and symptoms of bipolar disorder. The company has civil cases pending for failure to warn, and criminal charges for the illegal marketing of Risperdal including: marketing the drug to the elderly, marketing the drug to young children, and marketing the drug to consumers for a wide range of issues such as dementia and autism. None of these target demographics for Risperdal were approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
J&J neglected to inform consumers about the risks of taking Risperdal. The use of Risperdal in the elderly can lead to an increased chance of having a stroke. Also, taking Risperdal has led to a condition called gynecomastia which causes boys to develop large breasts. A case that has gained national attention involves Alabama native, Austin Pledger, who developed a 46DD bust from taking Risperdal to treat his autism as a boy. Pledger, who started taking Risperdal at age 7 in 2002, sued J&J for failure to warn of the risks for boys taking Risperdal. He received a jury verdict in February 2015 for $2.5 million. Pledger’s case was the first of over 1,200 claims pending against J&J.
J&J has also faced criminal charges by the United States Department of Justice and several individual states. A decade-long investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice resulted in J&J agreeing to pay $2.2 billion for their illegal marketing strategies of Risperdal between 1999 and 2004. However, this settlement did not require J&J to admit wrongdoing. Other notable settlements over J&J’s marketing strategies of Risperdal include a $327 million verdict in the case of State of South Carolina vs. J&J, a $158 million verdict in the case of State of Texas vs. J&J, and a $5.9 million verdict in the case of State of Montana vs. J&J.
Unfortunately, the amount that J&J has had to pay for its illegal activity, which has affected thousands of people, pales in comparison to the amount of money the company has profited on the drug. Steven Brill, a journalist who recently came out with an in-depth piece that discusses J&J’s illegal practices with Risperdal, estimates that the company will have to pay a total of $6 billion to eventually resolve all claims involving Risperdal.¹ To date, the company has made an estimated $20 billion in profit domestically from Risperdal. The scrutiny over this issue is still receiving national attention with many feeling the company should not be able to profit so heavily off of illegal activity.
¹ Steven Brill’s article can be found at: http://highline.huffingtonpost.com/miracleindustry/americas-most-admired-lawbreaker/
Plaintiff Support is currently offering your Risperdal clients surgical funding for those clients who may need a corrective procedure(s) but do not have the medical insurance coverage to cover the cost. Call us toll-free at 1-800-352-9676 to inquire how we can assist your clients in their time of need.