A few months ago on this blog, I wrote about a report by the Department of Health and Human Services that indicated that elderly patients with dementia were being repeatedly prescribed antipsychotic drugs because of the calming effect the drug induces in the elderly. The prescriptions are being written “off label”. Off label means that physicians may prescribe medications for any condition as long as the drug has been FDA approved.
Since that time, the story has found legs and rarely a week goes by without new information being disseminated with regard to the study’s findings, but there was little action to share.
That changed earlier this month when a South Carolina judge upheld a jury’s findings that Johnson and Johnson repeatedly mislead doctors and patients like when promoting its antipsychotic drug, Risperdal. The penalty was for $327 million. At one point, according to this article, the pill “once brought J&J more than $3.4 billion in annual sales.”
The trial completely exposed the seedy side of prescription drugs – the companies who make them, the peddlers who push them, and the doctors who prescribe them.
According to testimony, J&J went to great lengths to push Risperdal for all manner of health problems, including nursing home patients suffering from dementia. Many nursing home residents may have been injured or killed by the drug.
The Houston Press published an article earlier in December that highlights the tactics that J&J undertook to push the drug on unsuspecting children. It’s worth a read if you’ve got the stomach. An except:
Of course, one of the biggest problems with schizophrenia, besides its soul-crushing dreadfulness and tendency to tear families apart, was that there was only so much of it to go around. Eventually, Janssen would have to expand Risperdal’s usage and penetrate new markets. Bipolar. Dementia. Attention-deficit. And, just for the heck of it, stuttering.
Being aware of all the potential side effects of every drug prescribed to your loved one is a daunting task, but a necessary one. Prescription drugs are extremely dangerous, and can sometimes have deadly side effects.