When we are prescribed medicine or the use of medical devices by our doctors, we trust that those devices are safe for the purpose intended when used as directed. We also trust that if there are risks known to the manufacturer of those drugs or devices, they will be disclosed so we can make educated choices about the course of treatment.
Unfortunately, there are some larger pharmaceutical companies that appear more concerned with driving up profits than protecting patients, and have the deep pockets to consider any resulting litigation a “cost of doing business.” This dynamic is highlighted in a phenomenal, in-depth, 15-story series by veteran reporter Steve Brill in the The Huffington Post.
Titled, “America’s Most Admired Lawbreaker,” the series delves into systemic problems of a multi-billion company, Johnson & Johnson, accused of illegal promoting anti-psychotic medication Risperdal to children and the elderly – with horrible side effects for children and potentially fatal outcomes with the elderly. The company aggressively marketed these products to these populations, while hiding information about breast development in boys and lethal outcomes for older users.
So far, the company has paid more than $2 billion in penalties. However, it’s also raked in some $30 billion in sales from the drug. So in a sense, as New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof put it, “Crime pays if you’re a major corporation.”
In fact, the person in charge of marketing the schizophrenia drug for these off-label uses was actually promoted to CEO of the company, earning $25 million last year.
The reporter detailed how this kind of wrongdoing would likely have remained hidden had it not been for the numerous product liability lawsuits filed against the company by those adversely affected by the drug.
The company invented the drug with the intention of creating a “blockbuster” to bring in more than $1 billion in revenue annually. So although it was intended for schizophrenia, it was marketed to a much broader range of patients – from children with autism to seniors with dementia. For example, although the drug wasn’t approved for use by the elderly, the sales team at the company formed a sales team called “ElderCare” with nearly 140 sales associates whose sole goal was to market this drug to seniors.
In a similar situation with children, the company began marketing the drug so aggressively to pediatricians, more than a fifth of the drug was prescribed to children by 2000. Three years later, the company had a “back to school” marketing push, where sample packages included small toys and lollipops.
But all the while, the company knew there was a chance it could result in the development of large breasts in young boys. Brill reported extensively on the way in which the company worked to conceal that information.
The firm also lobbied heavily to have some states use the brand name rather than the generic versions in their Medicaid coverage, meaning taxpayers were spending $3,000 a year per patient who received this drug, versus the $250 annually they would have for the generic version.
If you, your child or an elderly parent has been injured as a result of taking Risperdal or some other pharmaceutical, contact our offices today to learn more about how we can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
Call Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorney Richard Ansara at (954) 761-4011. Serving Broward, Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties.
America’s Most Admired Lawbreaker: Chapter 1, The Credo Company, Sept. 16, 2015, By Steven Brill, The Huffington Post
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Florida Child Injured by Pest Fumigation, Family Claims, Sept. 8, 2015, Fort Lauderdale Defective Product Lawyer