In a groundbreaking report, Steven Brill and The Huffington Post have combined to produce a 58,000-word, 15-part Brill-reported series, “America’s Most Admired Law Breaker.” This incredible investigation details how giant Johnson & Johnson violated FDA restrictions in its marketing and sale of a wildly successful anti-psychotic drug, Risperdal.
Brill’s reporting shows how over years the company circumvented the FDA by cynically and successfully pushing the drug’s use for very different maladies, particularly in the treatment of children and the elderly.
Johnson & Johnson marketed Risperdal aggressively to the elderly in spite of knowing that Risperdal posed serious health risks for older adults, like an increased risk of strokes, the company went so far as to create a dedicated sales force, ElderCare, to promote the drug to doctors who primarily treated older patients.
Risperdal was also marketed as a safe treatment for children with ADHD – in spite of the fact the drug wasn’t approved for use with children until 2006 and the company’s own internal research had shown that boy’s could develop large pendulous breasts as a result of taking Risperdal.
J&J was eventually caught and after pleading guilty to a crime has so far paid more than $2 billion in penalties and settlements. However, in his reporting Brill contrasts vividly that those fines pale next to the almost $30 billion in sales of Risperdal around the world, and that Johnson & Johnson approaches the fines as simply “the cost of doing business.”
For years I have represented clients harmed by dangerous drugs and products produced by Johnson & Johnson. They have included Risperdal and most recently metal-on-metal hip implants produced by DePuy Orthopedic, a division of J&J. DePuy produced two well-known metal-on-metal hip replacement systems, the Pinnacle and the ASR. In 2010 Johnson & Johnson recalled 93,000 of the ASR implants worldwide and the company eventually reached a settlement in thousands of lawsuits over the failure of the device.
Johnson & Johnson still faces thousands more regarding its Pinnacle hip model, which remains on the market. This older device has a markedly similar metal-on-metal design. Almost 7000 Pinnacle lawsuits are still pending while awaiting the results of 10 potential bellwether cases from the multidistrict litigation (MDL) established for Pinnacle Hip lawsuits in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas. In all these cases plaintiffs share similar allegations, claiming the implant is faulty and is consequently requiring them to undergo early revision surgery.
It is apparent that Johnson & Johnson is reluctant to settle the Pinnacle cases and Brill’s reporting on Risperdal puts the company’s long time strategy of placing profits before patients in sharp relief. Witness that the current CEO of J&J rose to his position after running the illegal and immoral marketing campaign for Risperdal. A marketing campaign the company now concedes was criminal.
Metal-on-metal hip implants represent one of the biggest medical device failures in history. Victims who may have elevated chromium and cobalt levels in their blood, have required a revision surgery, or have had issued with their Pinnacle hip are encouraged to seek legal counsel immediately.
Aside from the DePuy ASR and Pinnacle there are many other types of metal-on-metal where patients have experienced similar problems. These include the Smith & Nephew R3, the Stryker Rejuvenate, Biomet Magnum, Encore, Wright Profemur, Converse, Dynasty, and Lineage implants.
My firm will continue to accept and file hip implant lawsuits against many of these manufacturers.