All the way back in 1999 the FDA told Johnson and Johnson that their marketing material for Risperdal, an antipsychotic, was incorrect. The marketing materials overstated the benefits and minimized the risks involved with Risperdal. However Risperdal itself was approved by the FDA for antipsychotic use. Here we are in 2010 and guess what? Johnson and Johnson have continued to push Risperdal to the elderly even after the warning from the FDA.
J&J’s business plan included marketing Risperdal for geriatric patients for elderly dementia in order to increase the geriatric sales, increase them to the tune of $302 million. The problem is that Risperdal is not approved for use with elderly dementia. So where does this leave Johnson and Johnson and the physicians who have prescribed Risperdal for elderly dementia based upon the marketing materials issued by J&J?
According to the law a doctor can prescribe any medicine that is licensed by the FDA and proven safe and effective against an ailment. Any ailment, not necessarily the one it is prescribed for. This pretty much lets the physicians off the hook for prescribing Risperdal for use with elderly dementia.
Johnson and Johnson however, or any drug company is not allowed to promote a drug for uses that the drug isn’t approved for by the FDA. To this date Risperdal is not approved for dementia. There have been lawsuits against J&J over the Risperdal sales practices by 10 different states with several other stated showing an interest I the possibility of suits.
While Risperdal does have benefits as an antipsychotic there is just no proof that this drug is effective for geriatric dementia, and no one seems to be searching for any evidence either. Johnson and Johnson is huge drug company with apparently money to throw away because even with the suits totaling in the millions, J&J still hasn’t changed the marketing materials for Risperdal, and continue to claim that the antipsychotic is effective and safe for geriatric dementia.
Simply put, if you have elderly loved ones who are dealing with dementia, it may be wise to go to their doctor with them and do some research on any medications suggested or prescribed. With the cost of prescriptions these days no one can afford to pay for a medication that isn’t going to do what the company says it will do.