Johnson & Johnson Pays Millions to Settle Risperdal Lawsuit

The state of Arkansas will receive $7.8 million from Johnson & Johnson to settle claims by the state that J & J illegally marketed the antipsychotic drug, Risperdal. The original $1.2 billion award against J & J was thrown out, and the settlement which is less than one percent of that fine was eventually agreed on. The Arkansas Supreme Court overturned the first verdict based on their conclusion the Arkansas attorneys based their suit on the wrong law. Approximately $5.8 million of the settlement fund will actually find its way to the state of Arkansas after $2 million goes to legal fees.

The Arkansas case has lingered for nearly eight years. Last year an appeals court threw out the billion-dollar award, then very recently the state of Arkansas dropped its Risperdal case against J & J as part of a settlement agreement. Spokesman for Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge stated Rutledge is glad to have the matter resolved. No liability was admitted by Johnson & Johnson in the particular settlement agreement, rather it was dubbed a “compromise reached in the interest of ending the litigation.” Unfortunately for Johnson & Johnson, there are more Risperdal lawsuits in the works. Similar verdicts in West Virginia, South Carolina and Louisiana were also either reduced significantly or thrown out completely. In 2012, the state of Texas received $158 million as a resolution to Risperdal marketing claims against Johnson & Johnson. Kentucky and Mississippi state cases are still pending with the Kentucky case set for trial next year, and no trial date set for the Mississippi Risperdal trial.

Consumer Risperdal Lawsuits Continue to Mount

There are more Risperdal lawsuits filed by individuals which are also pending. Of those cases, at least 130 allege Risperdal caused male adolescents to grow breasts, resulting in physical and psychological trauma. One such case settled in September, 2012, although the settlement details remain confidential. Risperdal may increase levels of prolactin, which in turn can cause males to develop breasts with accompanying pain and/or nipple discharge, scientifically known as gynecomastia. Mild cases of gynecomastia can be resolved with liposuction; more severe cases may require a full mastectomy.

Study Cautions Against the Use of Risperdal for Children and Adolescents

A 2008 study, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology found that Risperdal should be prescribed with caution to children and adolescents because the long-term effects of the drug are not well-documented. Because the drug is such a money-maker for Johnson & Johnson ($4.5 billion in 2007, $3.4 billion in 2008, and down to $542 million in 2011 after patent protection was lost) it is unlikely the company will admit any sort of fault. Despite the huge amounts of money J & J has made from Risperdal, they were also forced to pay $2.2 billion to resolve civil and criminal probes by the Federal government regarding Risperdal marketing practices.

The criminal charges were tied to allegations the company marketed Risperdal for unapproved uses, including treatment for elderly patients with dementia symptoms. Further allegations that Janssen and J & J marketed Risperdal to physicians who treated children in specific age groups before the FDA approved the drug for use among children of those ages also contributed to the $2.2 billion in fines. Documentation shows that 5-16 year-old children with irritability related to autism were prescribed Risperdal as early as 2002, yet the drug had no FDA approval for that use until 2006. Risperdal was prescribed “off-label” for ADHD, anxiety, insomnia and depression. While doctors are legally allowed to prescribe drugs for off-label treatments, pharmaceutical companies may not market a drug for off-label treatments.