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Risperdal Criminals

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Philadelphia, PAAlthough Johnson & Johnson has been finally caught, pleaded guilty and fined more than $2 billion for aggressively marketing Risperdal to the elderly and to young boys, that amount is a drop in its bucket considering that the antipsychotic drug brought the drug giant $30 billion in sales worldwide.

Many online discussions stemming from the recent Risperdal debacle wonder how Alex Gorsky was elevated from the J&J marketing department to become CEO, a position that earned him $25 million last year. That’s a no-brainer if Steven Brill, author of America's Most Admired Lawbreaker (serialized online by The Huffington Post) is correct in his estimation that Risperdal brought in $18 billion in profits for J&J. And as the New York Times quipped, Crime Pays if you’re a Major Corporation.

Risperdal is known to increase the risk of stroke in the elderly. Yet J&J is so intent on making profits over safety that it provided kickbacks to Omnicare doctors who peddled Risperdal to seniors. The FDA had only approved Risperdal for treating schizophrenia in adults but J&J apparently has (let’s only hope it had) more power than the government agency and continued its illegal marketing.

Next up, J&J preyed on a younger demographic - children and teens. By 2000, it was selling about 20 percent of Risperdal to this market. Sickeningly, Brill reported that J&J came up with a “back to school” marketing campaign for Risperdal in 2003. It even had “lollipops and small toys” included in Risperdal sample packages. Brill said Risperdal was a $3-billion-a-year drug by 2004. At the same time, J&J knew (as per internal documents uncovered by Brill) that Risperdal led 5.5 percent of boys to develop large breasts. It is now known that Risperdal can cause gynecomastia (development of breasts) in boys. And that J&J had manipulated and hid the data about breast development.

And shame on Rabbi Arthur Schneier, president and founder of The Appeal of Conscience Foundation. On September 24, 2015, it awarded Alex Gorsky (the J&J criminal) the “Appeal of Conscience Award.” No, this is not a parody. In fact sharing the stage was British Prime Minister David Cameron. On its website, Gorsky says:

“I am proud to accept this award on behalf of my colleagues at Johnson & Johnson...We are 128,000 people in over 60 countries with one common purpose - to help people everywhere live longer, healthier and happier lives.”

This reporter will no longer buy cotton tips, bandages or any product made by Johnson & Johnson. That in itself is a task but it will ensure a good conscience and possibly a healthier and happier life.

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