The Facts of the Case
This dispute arose in 2013 when an adolescent named Andrew Yount and his mother filed a lawsuit against Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a company that is incorporated in Johnson & Johnson. The plaintiff claimed that the drug manufactured by this organization caused gynecomastia or the growth of female breasts. Moreover, they stated that the defendants had concealed the information about the side effects of their product. In this case, one should speak about the medication known as Risperdal.
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It is used for treating bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, and other mental illnesses. Andrew Yount has used this drug since the age of four when he was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. At the time, when this plaintiff reached the age of 14, he began to develop female breasts. His mother accused Janssen Pharmaceuticals of failing to warn patients and doctors about the link between the use of Risperdal and gynecomastia. Before this dispute reached the court, Janssen Pharmaceuticals was already penalized for concealing the information about the adverse effects of Risperdal.
The Reasoning of the Court and the Outcome of the Case
The court that heard this case ruled in favor of the plaintiff and ordered the company to reimburse Andrew Yount and his mother. The reasoning of the judges was based on several premises indicating the culpability of the defendant. Firstly, one should speak about the presence of clinical evidence suggesting that Risperdal can significantly increase the risk of gynecomastia. Secondly, the court took into account the fact that the plaintiff had been taking this drug for a long time. Furthermore, much attention was given to the fact that the management of Janssen Pharmaceuticals attempted to conceal the information about the impacts of their medications.
One should note that plaintiffs cannot always prove the guilt of pharmaceutical companies. Very often, it is rather difficult to show that there is a causal relationship between the use of a drug and certain complications. Therefore, courts do not always accept the arguments advanced by claimants. Nevertheless, this case was an exception because it was revealed that Janssen Pharmaceuticals deliberately tried to falsify evidence that could prevent Risperdal from reaching the market. This is why the judges were ready to side with Andrew Yount and his mother.
Lessons for Entrepreneurs
This case eloquently demonstrates that entrepreneurs must never disregard their ethical duties. The management of Janssen Pharmaceuticals was mostly concerned about the profitability of the company. Additionally, they focused on the losses that this corporation could incur if the information about its products had been revealed. At the same time, they did not consider the needs and expectations of patients.
On the whole, there is only one strategy for avoiding such disputes. In particular, businesses should be honest when dealing with their stakeholders. More importantly, they should regard the welfare of clients as a top priority.
This case also shows that unethical behavior of companies can be very costly. One has to acknowledge that at a certain point, Janssen Pharmaceuticals was able to gain additional revenues. However, in the long run, their strategy proved to be risky and flawed. Firstly, this organization had to pay substantial fines imposed by governmental institutions. Secondly, it had to reimburse customers for the damages that they sustained.
Finally, the reputation of this company was damaged for a long time. To a great extent, this discussion indicates that the failure of businesses to fulfill their ethical responsibilities can be counter-productive. The executives of Janssen Pharmaceutical did not take this risk into consideration.