Risperdal Whistleblower Speaks Out

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With the victory in the Risperdal whistle blower case against the manufacturer, Janssen, a company owned by Johnson & Johnson, there is finally a sense that the details of the case can be shared. While pharmaceutical companies wield so much influence over government and show little concern about the processes the FDA insists on, its with some relief that the whistle blower case against the giant pharmacy company has resulted in a victory for ordinary people.

$2 Billion Award
Primarily, the claims of fraud and illegal marketing were found to be true by the court decision which fined Janssen $2 billion for sidestepping FDA regulations and marketing Risperdal off label to elderly people suffering dementia and young children suffering mental health problems. This may seem like a trivial amount for a company like Johnson & Johnson, and hardly a blow to the practice of fraud, but it underscores the importance of whistle blowers in righting a wrong. The whistle blowers included sales representatives with medical backgrounds who took exception to the fraud they were asked to commit. For their part, big pharmaceutical companies are hiring new sales representatives without medical training to keep them from doing any whistle blowing in the future.

Role of Whistle Blowers
Most people rely on the FDA to keep them safe from the careless, money-grubbing corporate behavior in cases like the Risperdal off label practice. Arguing that sidestepping FDA regulation was a practice protected by free speech and using legal technicalities that require whistle blowers to break the law to build a case against their employers should not be a winning strategy for big pharmaceutical companies, and in this case, it didn’t work. But many times it does work.

Whistle blowing on big pharmacy companies is just as hazardous to your career as embezzling company funds or stealing company equipment. It may even be worse since whistle blowers are often ostracized from the industry they work in and will never have a career path going forward. In a case like Risperdal, the way the whistle blowers’ complaints were handled and the insurance of anonymity until after the case was completed was about as good an outcome as a whistle blower is apt to get.

 

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