post by Bill Gardner
Risperdal (aka Risperidone) is an antipsychotic medication used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and irritability associated with autistic disorder. It was heavily promoted for many years by its manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson, leading to extensive off-label use. Hundreds of thousands of children have been given Risperidal.
Many of the patients given Risperidal had severe mental disorders that were resistant to other forms of treatment. However, the drug has severe adverse side effects, including rapid weight gain, metabolic disorder, and muscular tics. Many of us have believed that the dramatic increase in the use of atypical antipsychotics among children (at least) was not justified in light of the clear data about the severity of the side effects. Moreover, we felt that the companies and researchers promoting widespread use of these powerful drugs overstated their benefits and understated their harms.
And a court in Arkansas is doing something about this:
Judge Tim Fox determined that J&J and its Janssen Pharmaceuticals unit repeatedly broke the state's Medicaid fraud law, the Associated Press reports. One big issue: a letter sent to thousands of doctors in the state 2003 that said Risperdal was safer than rival medicines, according to Bloomberg.
Each Risperdal prescription for a Medicaid patient during a 3½-year period represented a violation of state law. Multiply $5,000, the minimum fine, by more than 200,000 prescriptions, and you get the lion's share of the penalty.
$1.1 billion can, as they say, concentrate the mind.