Johnson & Johnson agrees to pay $2.2 billion to settle Risperdal suit

Johnson & Johnson

Latest reports indicated that Johnson & Johnson has agreed to pay more than $2.2 billion in criminal and civil fines to settle accusations that it improperly promoted the antipsychotic drug Risperdal.

Johnson & Johnson was accused of promoting Risperdal to older adults, children and people with developmental disabilities.

According to the New York Times, the agreement is the third-largest pharmaceutical settlement in United States history and the largest in a string of recent cases involving the marketing of antipsychotic and anti-seizure drugs to older dementia patients.

In a news conference, Eric H. Holder Jr., the United States attorney general, said the company’s practices“recklessly put at risk the health of some of the most vulnerable members of our society — including young children, the elderly and the disabled.”

As part of the settlement, Johnson & Johnson has agreed to plead guilty to a criminal misdemeanor, acknowledging that it improperly marketed Risperdal to older adults for unapproved uses. It did not admit to wrongdoing for the civil portion of the settlement, which involves claims that the company promoted the drug’s use in children and the developmentally disabled, as well as accusations that it paid kickbacks to doctors and pharmacists in exchange for writing more prescriptions. The company will pay criminal fines and forfeiture of $485 million and civil penalties of $1.72 billion. The civil settlement also resolves similar accusations brought by 45 states.

Johnson & Johnson said on Monday that it stood by the safety and efficacy of Risperdal and was trying to put the chapter to rest. “This resolution allows us to move forward and continue to focus on delivering innovative solutions that improve and enhance the well-being of patients around the world,” Michael Ullman, the company’s vice president and general counsel, said in a statement.

But some called into question the extent to which the company could move on, given that Mr. Gorsky was now chief executive. “Stockholders and patients will pay the price for the fraud,” said Patrick Burns, co-director of Taxpayers Against Fraud, an advocacy group for corporate whistle-blowers. “Mr. Gorsky, however, gets to keep his job at Johnson & Johnson and all his bonuses.” Mr. Burns has called on federal officials to hold executives more directly accountable in such cases.