Multi-Million Dollar Lawsuits Against Pharmaceutical Companies Selling Antipsychotic Drugs

For most people with schizophrenia, treatment includes antipsychotic medication. These drugs are quite effective for many individuals, but lately they have become the subject of multi-million dollar lawsuits and investigations.

Even though only 1 percent of the population has schizophrenia, the annual revenue generated from pharmaceutical companies from antipsychotic medications is a whopping $14.6 billion – making this the number one selling class of drugs in the U.S. This may be due to drug companies’ tactic of advertising them for a much broader use.

Some are concerned that greed – perhaps at the expense of safety and genuine patient benefits – are the driving force behind the pharmaceutical companies that sell these drugs. According to Dr. Jerome L. Avorn, a researcher and medical professor at Harvard, “It’s the money. “When you’re selling $1 billion a year or more of a drug, it’s very tempting for a company to just ignore the traffic ticket and keep speeding.”

Even though the drug labels carry warnings about very serious potential side effects – including death – for geriatric patients, they have been used by 25% of those living in nursing homes. They are also being taken by over a half million adolescents even though some worry about the long term effects of these medications.

Although drug companies argue that their advertising follows strict ethical guidelines, some multi-million dollar settlements have been paid by some of the biggest names in the industry. Just last year Pfizer paid $301 million after being charged with illegal marketing practices for Geodon – a popular antipsychotic drug approved for the treatment of schizophrenia in 2001. Pfizer did not admit to guilt regarding the charges.

Reportedly, all the major drug companies that sell antipsychotics are either currently being investigated for fraud or have recently paid huge settlements - to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars. In addition to Pfizer, these companies include Eli Lilly, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Johnson & Johnson.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/03/business/03psych.html?_r=1

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