J&J Pays $2.2 Billion Fine to Feds Over Risperdal

Drug giant Johnson & Johnson, makers of the anti-psychotic medication Risperdal, have agreed to pay $2.2 billion in fines over allegations that the prescription drug was inappropriately marketed to older dementia patients and to children with behavioral disabilities.

The agreement was announced yesterday by the U.S. Department of Justice, which called it “one of the largest health care fraud settlements in U.S. history, including criminal fines and forfeiture totaling $485 million and civil settlements with the federal government and states totaling $1.72 billion.” In legalese, that is what is known as a “whopping” amount of money.

Risperdal is part of a class of “atypical antipsychotic” medications used to treat mental illnesses like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and irritability associated with autistic disorder.

Johnson & Johnson and other makers of atypical antipsychotics have come under regulatory scrutiny for for illegally touting these drugs for unapproved uses, and in spite of clear health risks. The New York Times calls yesterday’s settlement “part of a decade-long effort by the federal government to hold the health care giant — and other pharmaceutical companies — accountable.” Learn more about Lawsuits Over Risperdal and Other Antipsychotic Drugs.

J&J actually lost its patent protection for Risperdal a few years back, but the company is still paying a hefty price for a questionable-slash-illegal marketing strategy over the once-popular drug.