After a ten-year long criminal investigation, Johnson & Johnson has entered a guilty plea and will pay $2.2 billion in damages. The U.S. Department of Justice charged the company with promoting the drugs Risperdal and Invega for off-label uses (uses that were not approved by the FDA). These drugs were approved solely for the treatment of schizophrenia, but Johnson & Johnson was promoting them for non-schizophrenic patients—including children, the mentally disabled, and the elderly.
Reprehensible Conduct By the Company
The company was paying kickbacks to physicians and pharmacies to prescribe and promote these drugs. Johnson & Johnson paid Omnicare Inc., the nation’s largest long-term care pharmacy, to promote the drugs to nursing homes for Alzheimer’s Disease and dementia patients. This resulted in millions of dollars in false Medicare claims. In 2009 Omnicare agreed to pay $98 million to settle the charges.
Attorney General Eric Holder announced the settlement on November 4, 2013. He said that “these companies lined their pockets at the expense of American taxpayers, patients, and the private insurance industry” and “displayed a reckless indifference to the safety of the American people.”
A Large Penalty, But a Small Effect
Although the $2.2 billion settlement represents the third-largest penalty paid by a pharmaceutical company to settle allegations of illegal marketing, the amount is still a drop in the bucket for Johnson & Johnson. In 2007 alone, the pill and injectable versions of Risperdal made more than $4 billion (a year in which Johnson & Johnson earned more than $25 billion). Invega generated more than $4 billion in 2012 and 2013 combined.
There are currently hundreds of Risperdal lawsuits in the United States. It is believed the drug causes men to grow abnormal breast tissue. If you believe you have a case involving Risperdal, you should be aware that every state has deadlines for filing a lawsuit. Contact the lawyers at Lopez McHugh for a free consultation without delay. If we agree to accept your case we will work on a contingent fee basis, which means that we get paid for our services only if there is a successful settlement or verdict.