Lawsuit Alleges Johnson & Johnson Marketed Risperdal Off-Label
Three former salespeople say Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceutical unit encouraged sales representatives to promote its anti-psychotic Risperdal for uses not approved by the FDA.
In order to boost the sales of the drug, J&J urged doctors to prescribe Risperdal for bipolar disorder and depression.
Nine states have sued J&J, claiming it violated a federal bar to off-label marketing. Off-label marketing or promotion involves marketing drugs for unapproved uses. While drug-makers are not allowed to market their drugs for off-label uses, doctors are permitted to prescribe medicines for conditions not approved by the FDA. In fact, according to Dr. Jeffrey Lieberman of Columbia University Medical Center, off-label prescribing is done all the time in the practice of medicine in a very rational and useful way.
Recently, Pfizer agreed to pay $2.3 billion to end an investigation into their marketing tactics over the painkiller Bextra. Eli Lilly said it would pay $1.42 billion over promotion of Zyprexa.
According to the lawsuit, one salesperson was encouraged by her superiors to prescribe Risperdal for depression, anxiety and other unapproved uses, and she was praised for expanding the market. J&J went so far as to offer bonuses for boosting sales.