(NaturalNews) For the first time, an individual user of the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) antipsychotic drug Risperdal is suing the pharmaceutical giant for allegedly committing fraud and lying about the safety of the drug. According to reports, Fletch Trammell, lawyer for the individual filing the suit, told a New Jersey jury that J&J knew as early as 1999 that Risperdal caused diabetes, but lied about it to the public in order to protect billions of dollars in sales.
Risperdal has been the subject of numerous lawsuits recently, including several filed by individual U.S. states that say they were defrauded by J&J's illegal marketing of Risperdal, which includes marketing it for off-label purposes, and pushing doctors and health officials to promote the drug in place of less-expensive, safer alternatives.
But now an individual who says the drug caused him to rapidly gain weight and develop diabetes is making the same claims. Based on much of the same evidence used in the state lawsuits, Trammell says Janssen Pharmaceuticals, the division of J&J that manufactures Risperdal, engaged in an illegal coverup of data showing that Risperdal was more dangerous than one of its main competitors, Eli Lilly & Co.'s Zyprexa drug.
"He went to them for help and they gave him diabetes," said Trammell of J&J concerning his client. This client, who reportedly did not have diabetes at the time and was not overweight, had begun taking Risperdal in 1996 after attempting to commit suicide. But not long after, the plaintiff reportedly gained a lot of weight very quickly, and by 2002 had developed full-blown diabetes.
According to reports, J&J is currently in the process of forking over $1 billion to end a federal government investigation into the company's sales practices for Risperdal that began in 2004. Like most other lawsuits involving drug companies, this settlement basically allows the company to avoid being held criminally responsible for any potential crimes, a luxury which is not afforded by the justice system to the general public.