Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson may have to pay upwards of $1.8 billion to settle a serious lawsuit with the Justice Department and several states arising out of the marketing of the antipsychotic Risperdal. Authorities say the company marketed Risperdal for unapproved uses and downplayed potential side effects associated with the medication.
The Justice Department and several states decided that the $1 billion settlement negotiated last December in Philadelphia was inadequate. Many people familiar with the case say that the states rejected the $1 billion settlement reached by the Philadelphia U.S. Attorney's Office because of a $158 million settlement that the state of Texas obtained from Johnson & Johnson during a trial over the company's Risperdal marketing in that state.
Johnson & Johnson said that it has set aside funds to cover the wave of lawsuits brought by the Justice Department and about a dozen states. The states say that Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen marketed Risperdal, also known as Risperidone, for use in patients with bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders and dementia, among other conditions. Individual states must decide whether they will join the mass settlement or pursue claims on their own.
Use of antipsychotic medications, especially atypical antipsychotic medications like Risperdal, is linked to increased rates of death in patients with dementia. There is some evidence that antipsychotic medications increase the risk of cardiovascular problems and infections in these patients, prompting the Alzheimer's Association to issue a statement against their use last fall.
Source: Bloomberg News, "J&J's Risperdal settlement swells to $1.8B," March 12, 2012