Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay a total of $2.2 billion to settle criminal charges and civil liability claims for its products under subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals which includes Risperdal, a top-selling anti-psychotic drug that proved to subject the elderly with dementia to an unacceptable degree of risk for stroke and other potentially fatal disorders.

Risperdal started out well when it was first approved in 1993 and prescribed for use in bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and autism. It was considered safe enough to be administered to children, although there were well-publicized side effects that both doctors and patients were aware of and considered acceptable given the benefits, except in some occurrences of gynecomastia and increased suicidality. However, Risperdal was never approved for managing the behavior of the elderly diagnosed with dementia.

This is where J&J made a misstep; the drug was aggressively marketed for this purpose, and plaintiffs claim that the company knew about the medical risks it posed to that particular population segment.  And because many of these patients were using state health benefits to pay for the drug or for nursing home care that used the drug, states have also joined in the litigation fray with varying degrees of success.

The settlement is quite massive, considered the largest to date for any antipsychotic drug. However, since Risperdal was immensely popular with a wide market base, it had made the drugmaker a lot of money before product liability lawsuits started coming in. It is highly probable that the pharmaceutical giant can take it in stride with little trouble.

If you have had an elderly family member with dementia die of stroke or suffer serious injury while taking Risperdal, you may be able to prove causation. Hire a Risperdal lawyer to undertake an investigation in order to get compensation for your loss.