This past week, Johnson & Johnson was fined over $2 billion for false marketing and providing kickbacks to doctors and medical care providers regarding the off-label use of the drug Risperdal. I’ve written before how much my father’s mental and physical health declined after being prescribed Risperdal in the nursing home. Omnicare, which supplied my father’s medications, also paid a major fine of $98 million.
I remember the indifferent attitude the doctor at the local hospital had when I questioned the use of Risperdal, which was already controversial even while my dad was still alive. The doctor just shrugged his shoulders and said they had to continue prescribing what the doctor from the nursing home had ordered. He asked me if I knew what it was for and I responded “to make patients like zombies so they’re easier for the nursing home staff to deal with” and the doctor agreed with a laugh. I did not find it funny at all.
Fines don’t bring back our loved ones who were harmed by this drug, but perhaps it will make pharmaceutical giants, doctors and nursing homes think twice before prescribing medications that can cause great harm to their patients. It’s difficult for caregivers to keep track of all of the medications being provided to a loved one when they are in a nursing home. I only discovered the extensive medication list for my dad when I examined the invoices that had been mailed to my mother from Omnicare. They wanted their money, over several thousand dollars worth racked up in less than a year, when in fact they were pushing a drug that was hazardous for elderly patients with dementia like my dad.
I’m not one for overzealous lawsuits and I’m not necessarily anti-corporate, but I’m glad that the whistleblowers exposed these companies for the malicious practices they were engaged in that impacted those with mental health issues who could not defend themselves. Better late than never when it comes to justice.