In a nearly record-setting pay out, pharmaceutical industry giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and some of its subsidiaries will pay more than $2.2 billion in civil and criminal fines stemming from the manufacturer’s conduct surrounding its drug Risperdal, and two other drugs, Invega and Natrecor.
“The conduct at issue in this case jeopardized the health and safety of patients and damaged the public trust,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “This multibillion-dollar resolution demonstrates the Justice Department’s firm commitment to preventing and combating all forms of health care fraud. And it proves our determination to hold accountable any corporation that breaks the law and enriches its bottom line at the expense of the American people.”
Chiding J&J for placing “profit over patients’ health” and misusing tax dollars, Associate Attorney General Tony West went on to explain that not only will J&J pay billions for its actions, it will also be subject to other measures to ensure “change in corporate behavior and help ensure the playing field is level for all market participants.” New restrictions include a five-year plan that details specific changes in the way J&J markets and promotes its drugs. Notably, the plan includes requirements that J&J change its executives’ bonus and incentive pay to allow the company to recoup monies paid to executives and subordinates who engage in significant misconduct. The plan further requires J&J to be transparent about how it researches its drugs, and about payments to doctors who promote and prescribe the drugs.
Risperdal is an anti-psychotic drug used to treat schizophrenia and problems associated with bipolar disorder and autism. However, the drug can have serious side effects, including diabetes mellitus, metabolic syndrome, pancreatitis, hyperprolactinemia, weight gain, and tardive dyskinesia. Perhaps most disturbingly for young boys taking Risperdal is the potential of forming excess breast tissue, or gynecomastia. According to government documents, J&J and its subsidiary Janssen knew of this risk, yet Janssen still sought to increase its Risperdal sales to children by targeting child psychiatrists and mental health facilities that primarily treated children.
Phillips Grossman is representing children and their families who have been harmed by Risperdal, specifically, adolescent boys who have developed excess breast tissue, or gynecomastia. In lawsuits filed against J&J and Janssen, Phillips Grossman alleges the companies knew about the risk of young boys developing gynecomastia, yet hid these risks in order to reap hundreds of millions in profits. “The U.S. Department of Justice’s recent actions and multi-billion dollar fines against J&J and Janssen evidence how entrenched J&J’s corporate culture of putting profit over patients’ safety truly was,” said Marc Grossman, partner with Phillips Grossman.
To read the U.S. Dept. of Justice’s detailed press release regarding the investigation, findings and resolution, click on:
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