Consumer Drug Safety

Johnson & Johnson Recieves Sentencing in Risperdal Case

During more recent years, Johnson & Johnson has received numerous lawsuits filed for patients experiencing gynecomastia as a result of taking Risperdal. Gynecomastia is the growth of breast tissue on male patients. This typically occurred in male patients who began taking Risperdal in childhood or adolescent years. Other claims were filed as well, relating to severe Risperdal side effects including tardive dyskinesia and neuroleptic malignant syndrome.

The State of South Carolina vs. Johnson & Johnson

In response to Risperdal lawsuits, Judge Roger Couch of the South Carolina Circuit Court sentenced Johnson & Johnson to pay a total of $327 million in settlement costs. After hearing both the prosecution and the defense, a jury had decided that Johnson & Johnson was guilty of purposely hiding Risperdal health risks while overstating the drug’s benefits for schizophrenic patients. The jury had stated that the misleading information was supplied while Johnson & Johnson marketed Risperdal to doctors in the state of South Carolina.

Judge Roger Couch got creative with his sentencing. He applied a $300 fine for every Risperdal sample that Johnson & Johnson handed out and another $4,000 fine for every “Dear Doctor” letter that was published.

Johnson & Johnson Appeals South Carolina Verdict

Johnson & Johnson is now appealing to the South Carolina Supreme Court, claiming that the sentence from Judge Roger Couch is flat-out wrong. The manufacturing company claims that it did not intend to deceive physicians about Risperdal. Johnson & Johnson also claims that South Carolina failed to prove that any patients were harmed by Risperdal.

In 2012, Johnson & Johnson was ordered by the District of Columbia to pay $181 million in settlements for litigation spanning 36 states. Litigation for several individual Risperdal cases continues in other areas of the country. It does not appear as if the South Carolina Supreme Court will make a decision on Johnson & Johnson’s latest appeal for several months.

Risperdal Black Box Warning

In 2005, the FDA alerted the American public of growing concerns for an increased risk of death in patients that took Risperdal to treat dementia-related psychosis. The FDA required that Johnson & Johnson include a “black box warning” on Risperdal labels to alert patients and doctors of this concern. A “black box warning” is the most severe caution the FDA can issue regarding a prescription without outright demanding a recall.

Show Sources
  1. Feeley, Jef, and Gary Henderson. "J&J Duped South Carolina Doctors Over Risperdal, Lawyer Says." Bloomberg 21 Mar 2011, n. pag. Print.