Johnson & Johnson paid billions of dollars to settle charges of illegal marketing of Risperdal. Patients could be eligible for compensation, as well, either through a settlement or a jury verdict.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder accused J&J of putting “some of the most vulnerable members of our society” at risk of serious injury while it pursued greater profits. Specifically, the company used aggressive marketing to get doctors to prescribe Risperdal to the elderly and children for unapproved uses.
Individual plaintiffs also filed personal injury lawsuits alleging that Johnson & Johnson improperly marketed Risperdal without disclosing serious health risks. Drugmakers that fail to inform consumers about drug dangers may be held legally liable for negligence.
If you or a loved one was injured by Risperdal, you may also be eligible for compensation through a settlement or a jury verdict.
J&J Pays Billions to Settle Marketing Scandal
Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay up to $2.2 billion to settle a decade-long investigation into illegal promotion of Risperdal between 1999 and 2005. The settlement, which was split between the federal government and multiple states, was the largest of its kind in U.S. history. Although the settlement did not require Johnson & Johnson to admit wrongdoing against pediatric patients, it brought attention to questionable sales and marketing practices.
At the heart of the investigation were claims that the company used aggressive marketing to get doctors to prescribe Risperdal to elderly dementia patients and children with disabilities. In particular, state and federal attorney generals alleged that Johnson & Johnson promoted Risperdal for pediatric use as early as 1994 despite not receiving approval for any Risperdal childhood use until 2006. They also claimed the company specifically disregarded FDA warnings not to promote the antipsychotic for childhood use.
The government investigations revealed that Johnson & Johnson used a variety of tactics to get doctors to prescribe Risperdal. They included offering sales representatives incentives to promote unapproved uses to doctors, paying kickbacks to the largest nursing home pharmacy in the U.S., and offering doctors trips and “lucrative consulting agreements” to prescribe Risperdal to more patients. Johnson & Johnson went to trial with the state of South Carolina over false marketing claims, losing a jury verdict of $327 million. The company later reached separate settlements with Texas in 2012 and Montana in 2014 for $158 million and $5.9 million respectively.
Individual Settlements & Jury Verdicts
If you file a Risperdal legal claim, there is no guarantee that you will obtain a settlement or win a trial verdict. But based on the cases that have gone to trial so far, it appears that Johnson & Johnson may be motivated to settle claims in order to avoid trial verdicts or reveal more information about its marketing scandal.
In the first Risperdal personal injury lawsuit to go to trial, 21-year-old Aron Banks claimed the drug caused him to grow breasts. He was prescribed Risperdal at age nine even though it wasn’t approved for use by children at the time. He grew breasts large enough to require surgery to remove them. He also experienced rapid weight gain and suffered injury to his endocrine system. In addition to his physical injuries, Banks claimed Risperdal caused him psychological trauma.
In September 2012, Johnson & Johnson agreed to settle the case on the first day of trial in a Philadelphia court. Under the agreement, Banks and his attorneys could not reveal the settlement amount. But his attorney did tell the media that he believed “the possibility of more evidence of off-label marketing and improper conduct by Johnson & Johnson had something to do with the settlement.”
The second Risperdal trial settled later the same month after a week of trial testimony. The same day, Johnson & Johnson announced settlements in four more cases. The settlement amounts for each case were kept confidential. Johnson & Johnson did not admit wrongdoing under the agreements and continues to deny liability for Risperdal injuries.
In January 2014, 77 plaintiffs who had reached a preliminary settlement with J&J announced that the company was refusing to finalize the agreement. The plaintiffs had argued that Janssen had created marketing materials and published articles downplaying the risks of developing breast tissue.
Trials by Jury
In February 2015, Austin Pledger became the first victim to win a Risperdal jury trial. Pledger developed 46 DD breasts as a teen after he began taking the drug at age eight. He was awarded $2.5 million after a judge declared J&J failed to warn the drug could cause breast development.
A jury in a March 2015 case also found J&J illegally marketed the drug, but it could not find proof the drug caused breast development in the plaintiff. No damages were awarded.
The third Risperdal trial to be heard by a jury began Oct. 15, 2015. The fourth trial began a week later, and concluded before the third one ended. In the fourth trial, a jury found Nicholas Murray developed breasts after taking Risperdal for five years as an adolescent. The case was significant, because Murray continued taking Risperdal after the FDA expanded the drug’s approval for use in children in 2006. The jury still found J&J failed to adequately warn of the risks for breast development and awarded Murray $1.75 million.
The third trial involved Tim Stange, who took Risperdal from 2006 to 2009. It’s the first case to be heard by a jury in which the plaintiff began taking Risperdal after the FDA expanded its use. A jury has not reached a verdict yet.
Patients May Be Eligible for Compensation
Plaintiffs who develop gynecomastia following Risperdal use, like Aron Banks and others, seek compensation to address both physical and emotional injuries. Although the terms are confidential, settlements typically include money for surgery, ongoing medical care and counseling.
If Risperdal has injured you or your loved one, you may be able to obtain an award through a settlement or trial verdict. Each case is different, and there is no guarantee how much, if any, you will receive in compensation. But it is a good idea to speak to a qualified attorney about your legal options for holding Risperdal’s makers accountable.
An attorney can help explain the legal process, what type of compensation you may be eligible for, and the strengths and weaknesses of your case. Consultations are usually free, and plaintiffs in Risperdal cases generally do not have to pay their attorneys unless they receive some compensation.
If you need more information about Risperdal or are interested in learning about your legal options, the team at Drugwatch is available to help. They can help you find a qualified attorney who can help you decide whether a lawsuit is right for you.