Speedy End to Johnson & Johnson Dangerous Drug Trial – Settlement Undisclosed

On the first day of a trial set to take place in Philadelphia, Johnson and Johnson reached a settlement agreement over personal injury claims against the company and its antipsychotic drug, Risperdal.

The lawsuit brought to court by Aron Banks, 21, alleges that use of Risperdal caused the male plaintiff abnormal breast growth while taking the drug as a child. Banks was prescribed the drug from 2000 to 2004 at which time the drug was not approved for use in children. The terms of the settlement agreement are undisclosed.

Risperdal is produced by the Janssen unit of Johnson and Johnson and is used to treat the symptoms of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and irritability in patients with autism. The drug was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in the treatment of several psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia in 1993.

This lawsuit was the first of many claims to go to trial against Johnson and Johnson alleging that Risperdal caused breast growth in young boys. In fact, a similar trial begins at the end of September 2012, also in Philadelphia. It is reported that over 400 lawsuits are pending against Johnson and Johnson claiming that the Risperdal product caused personal injury to consumers.

Marketing Practices Under Scrutiny in Several States

However, Risperdal has been under scrutiny in the United States for many years. Since 2004, government agencies have been investigating the sales practices of the Risperdal unit. Allegations have been made that the company has been marketing the drug for unapproved medical uses in several states.

Last month Johnson and Johnson agreed to pay $181 million to settle claims in 36 states which alleged improper marketing and advertising practices regarding Risperdal and another antipsychotic drug, Invega. Prosecutors in several states have also alleged that J&J knowingly concealed or minimized the risks associated with taking Risperdal.

Earlier this year, a case in Texas which included claims that Janssen marketed Risperdal for children without regulatory approval for its use in this manner, was settled for $158 million. In addition, Johnson and Johnson settled Risperdal lawsuits in South Carolina for $327 million and in Louisiana for $258 million. Lawsuits also claim that the company made false or misleading claims about the safety of the drug and in some states accuse Johnson and Johnson of improperly trying to influence doctors to push the drug on patients.

These amounts, while large, are considered to be far less than the amounts Johnson and Johnson would have forced to pay in penalties and fines and for the costly appeals process, had it not settled. Johnson and Johnson has made billions from the sale of Risperdal.