Tuesday March 11, 2014
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Here on the forum we often talk about what the law should do. As far as I can see, everyone agrees that it should deter, punish, and — where possible — rehabilitate.
There's a case which is going on right now that brings two out of three of those aims into question.
In recent months more than one drug company has been charged with promoting a drug for an unproven and unapproved use. Johnson & Johnson is the latest of them. The drug is Risperdal, an atypical antipsychotic drug which is mainly used to treat schizophrenia. It was approved in 1994.
Risperdal is not FDA approved for dementia treatment, yet for years, the company deployed sales reps who called on doctors specializing in the care of elderly patients to play up the unapproved and unproven use of the drug for dementia.
Besides being unapproved for dementia treatment, the use of Risperdal carries significant side effects, such as an increased risk for strokes, diabetes, significant weight gain, tardive dyskinesia, and neuroleptic malignant syndrome which the company is accused of downplaying. Risperidone and other antipsychotics also increase the risk of death in patients with dementia.
In just one of the years since 1994 that Risperdal was the company's best-selling drug, its sales reached $4.7 billion.
The penalty the company will pay?
A $2.2 billion fine and a guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge.
The question is....
Will that deter them, or anyone else, from doing the same thing? Is it actually a punishment to allow a company to keep billions of dollars of profit illegally made?
I have another question. It's a genuine question of fact, but I don't have the facts and that's why I am asking it. Here it is:
WHY? Why do we see this happening over and over again in all kinds of businesses? A crime is committed, a serious federal crime — fraud, false official statements, lying under oath, obstruction of justice, crimes for which people are often sent to prison for years. Millions or billions of dollars in profits are reaped. People often die as a result. Others are pauperized or lose something precious to them, perhaps even their home. Sometimes the money which is stolen is federal funds.
And yet literally nothing is done about it. A fine is assessed, but it comes nowhere near the profits reaped. Either no charges at all are filed against the dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of guilty people, or the charge is a misdemeanor and is charged not to some person, but to a company, which is, of course, ridiculous because neither you nor I have ever seen a building hatch a plot to defraud the government or the people. People commit crimes, not companies. And it happens, not just some of the time, but literally almost every time.
Now, it's easy enough to just point the finger and yell RICH! But is there an underlying reason, or reasons, for all this — proper or improper as it may be?
My husband was given Risperdal after he was put in the hospital for chest pains. Smart Hospitalist.
That was the start of his downhill to nursing homes curled up not talking, moving or knowing anyone and dying.
He did have heart problems. 2 angioplastys, 1977. 7 way by pass in 1991 and a stent in about 1997.
Pat, I am terribly sorry to hear that. I suppose it could have been part of the reason he so unexpectedly went downhill so fast.
I won't say anymore. I know doggone well everyone reading this post feels exactly the same way that I do at this moment. And all for money....
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