Johnson & Johnson Agrees to Pay $2.2 Billion to Halt Probe of Illegal Marketing of Painkiller

Wednesday, June 13, 2012
William Weldon
If the deal goes through it would become the government’s second largest settlement with a pharmaceutical company, following the $2.3 billion deal with Pfizer in 2009 over marketing of its painkiller Bextra and other drugs.
“This is a gigantic settlement that reflects the seriousness of the criminal and civil allegations against J&J over Risperdal and the other drugs,” Carl Tobias, who teaches product-liability law at the University of Richmond law school, told Bloomberg News.
The Johnson & Johnson accord would cover claims involving the drugs Risperdal, Natrecor and Invega. Risperdal was once the company’s best-selling pharmaceutical, generating worldwide sales of $24.2 billion from 2003 to 2010. In 1993, the Food and Drug Administration approved Risperdal for psychotic disorders, but Johnson & Johnson also promoted its use for unapproved conditions such as for bipolar disorder, dementia, and mood and anxiety disorders.
The $2.2 billion would not end all Risperdal claims against Johnson & Johnson.
Attorneys general in Arkansas, Louisiana and South Carolina have their own lawsuits that collectively could cost the drug maker another $1.8 billion in damages and fines.
As usual with such settlements, no corporate officers have been charged with criminal offenses. During the period of Johnson & Johnson’s transgressions, William Weldon was the company’s CEO and chairman of the board. In April he resigned as CEO, but retained the post of chairman.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
To Learn More:
J&J Said to Agree to $2.2 Billion Drug Marketing Accord (by Margaret Cronin Fisk, Jef Feeley and David Voreacos, Bloomberg News)
The Worst C.E.O.’s of 2011 (by Sydney Finkelstein, New York Times)


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