Drug Companies Voluntarily Pay the Price for Bribing Doctors to Promote Powerful Anti-Psychotics in Children

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP

Johnson & Johnson, manufacturer of the powerful antipsychotic drug Risperdal, has voluntarily agreed to pay $2.2 billion in settlement fees to resolve a federal investigation into the company’s fraudulent marketing practices. The Wall Street Journal wrote that the settlement likely includes a roughly $400 million criminal fine for the illegal promotion of Risperdal, however, the details have not been finalized yet.

What we are sure of is that Johnson & Johnson paid psychiatrists to promote Risperdal for children. Johnson & Johnson has gone to such lengths to drive the psychiatric drugging of children that they have even ghost-written at least one of the paid psychiatrists, Harvard professor, Joseph Biederman’s, “scientific articles.”

Unfortunately, the story is no different for drug company GlaxoSmithKline who volunteered to pay $3 billion in settlement fees for one of the most egregious marketing tactics to date. Glaxo employed several fraudulent tactics to sell its antipsychotic drug Paxil in children, such as helping to publish a medical journal article that misreported data from a clinical trial. Glaxo manipulated and rewrote the study making their drug Paxil seem as though it was useful for adolescent depression even though the FDA had never approved Paxil for adolescents. The company even got close to two dozen credible researchers and “experts” to put their names on the fraudulent study as if the article were their own.

But surprise- none of the accomplices to these drug companies’ fraudulent undertakings have suffered any serious consequences. In fact, Joseph Biederman, the psychiatrist who was paid off by Johnson & Johnson, remains a star professor at Harvard. Similarly, Charles Nemeroff, a psychiatrist who “coauthored” one of Glaxo’s ghostwritten articles, has just landed a chair position in the psychiatry department at the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami.

Because the repercussions are so slim, it seems a few billion dollars are a worthwhile expense for those companies who choose to use bribery and fraudulent marketing to drive up profits in this business.

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