The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Slap on the Wrist for Big Pharma

Dec 9, 2013

On November 4, the U.S. attorney general announced a two billion dollar fine for Johnson and Johnson to settle a decades-old legal battle over the use of its drug Risperdol.

The attorney general said the company showed “reckless indifference” to people’s health by pushing the use of this anti-psychotic drug, especially for the elderly. The drug was used to quiet symptoms of schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder, but it also sometimes caused deadly strokes.

These cases were not just corporate “indifference,” they were potentially cases of murder. And two billion dollars? That’s what Johnson and Johnson made in sales of Risperdol in a single year!

Nor is Johnson and Johnson alone in pushing the use of drugs in ways that may possibly cause as much harm as good. Last year, GlaxoSmithKline paid a three billion dollar fine for problems with three of its drugs. Four years ago Pfizer paid a two billion dollar fine for the way it promoted one of its drugs.

In other words, the industry makes billions off human illnesses and then staves off lawsuits by settling for fines paid to the federal government.

Billions may sound like a lot of money, but pharmaceuticals is one of the largest and most profitable industries in this society. The U.S. government funds most research on drugs today, while the pharmaceutical companies benefit from taxpayer-funded research to make their billions.

Johnson and Johnson’s “fine” just covers for a very cozy arrangement with the government!