Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Johnson & Johnson: Risperdal(2012)

0.25 mg Risperdal tablets

Back in the 1990’s, Johnson & Johnson released an anti-psychotic drug called Risperdal. This drug worked its magic, and a lot of people suffering from mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, had their symptoms alleviated. Risperdal, however, raises the body’s levels of a breast growth hormone called prolactin. This elevated level of prolactin causes males to develop a case of Gynecomastia. Gynecomastia is the growth of woman like breasts on men. Some severe cases have caused men to develop D-cup sized breasts. The actual growth of breasts I painless, but the social implications are anything but. Younger men, such as teenagers, can easily become the target of ridicule at school as soon as somebody notices. Getting rid of the breasts is not easy either. The fastest way to get rid of them is to receive surgery. Much slower ways are to wait, exercise the chest area, or to diet. Risperdal, until around 2012, was never connected to Gynecomastia. This allowed Johnson & Johnson to make a pretty penny from sales. Johnson & Johnson employed some questionable tactics to promote Risperdal. A big method was convincing doctors to recommend Risperdal to young boys and elderly men.

Under the evaluation of Individualism, Risperdal is an ethical drug. It fulfills its purpose, the suppression of mental illnesses, and it has brought a lot of profit to Johnson & Johnson. As long as it is for direct profit, a product that fulfills its function is perfectly fine. However, Utilitarianism, Kantianism, and Virtue Theory say otherwise.

Diagram of Gynecomastia in male breast tissue

Utilitarianism says that Risperdal is an unethical drug. Sure, it solves what it’s meant to solve, but it produces another problem. People are happy for a little while, free from their condition, just to begin to develop another.

Kantianism also says that Risperdal is unethical. Johnson & Johnson withheld crucial information about their product. Very few men would willingly take Risperdal if they knew of the consequences. The rationality of the consumers has been violated by this deception.

Virtue Theory
Virtue Theory says that Risperdal is unethical due to a similar reason to Kantianism. For something to be truly ethical, it needs to hold the four main virtues: Courage, Honesty, Temperance, and Justice. Johnson & Johnson was not fully honest with Risperdal, conveniently glossing over the man boobs in their control group.

Justified Ethics Evaluation
In my opinion, Risperdal is an unethical drug. It has negatively impacted the people that it is supposed to help, going against what medicine is meant to do, help people. Vital information was withheld, deceiving the consumers and exploiting them. Johnson & Johnson has betrayed the trust of the consumer, and is suffering for it in reparations.

Risperdal Side Effects - FindLaw. (n.d.). Retrieved October 25, 2015.

Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies | Johnson & Johnson. (n.d.). Retrieved October 25, 2015.

Drug Side Effects, Interactions & Lawsuit Information - Drugwatch.com. (n.d.). Retrieved October 25, 2015.

Gynecomastia - Risperdal & Invega, Male Breast Growth. (2015, October 21). Retrieved November 23, 2015, from http://www.drugwatch.com/risperdal/gynecomastia/

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