PHILADELPHIA – Plaintiffs
lawyers continue to spend a significant amount of money on advertising to drum
up Risperdal clients, the president of a mass torts litigation research firm
Rustin Silverstein, the
president and founder of X Ante, says Risperdal is usually one of the top five
products on which plaintiffs lawyers and related companies focus their advertising budgets. And 2015
has been no different.
X Ante provides
analysis of mass tort litigation to clients like pharmaceutical companies,
research firms and law firms.
“Risperdal has been one
of the top products that we’ve been following, as we track all the products
that are featured in the television advertisements,” Silverstein said.
“I think so far in
2015, it’s in the top five in the amount of advertising targeting, and it’s
been that way for the past couple of years.”
Silverstein stated advertising
connected to Risperdal, first seen in October 2005, has been “fairly
consistent” with campaigns associated with other products.
Plaintiff law firms,
lead generation companies and other groups seeking claimants utilize television
as the primary medium in which to accomplish that purpose, he said.
“So far this year,
we’ve seen $5.2 million in spending for Risperdal ads and about 19,000 TV ads
have been broadcast,” Silverstein said.
“They’re running all
over the country, and a lot of the ads now are shifting from airing on local
stations to national broadcast and national cable stations.”
typically as a multi-district litigation is established and the litigation
becomes more national, national advertisers will likewise attempt to “cast a
wider net” in adjusting the scope of their ads accordingly.
There are more than
1,600 Risperdal cases in Philadelphia’s Complex Litigation Center. Male plaintiffs
from around the country allege they developed gynecomastia – the development of
female breast tissue – from using it.
The drug is an
anti-psychotic manufactured by Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen
other X-Ante stats, Silverstein said just more than $175,000 was spent to air
650 ad spots connected to Risperdal litigation in November, and $430,000 was
spent to air 555 of these same ads in October - whereas only $100,000 was spent
to air 301 ad spots for September.
“The usual scenario is
there will be some kind of event that spurs interest of plaintiff attorneys in
a particular product,” Silverstein said.
“That could be an FDA
warning, perhaps a medical journal article, perhaps a big verdict about a
particular product, and that will spur the interest.
“If the mass tort
advertisers see an opportunity, they will watch the campaign to try to round up
as many plaintiffs as they can. Usually, those will go national very quickly.”
So far, plaintiffs have
won three of four Philadelphia trials, with verdicts totaling $4.75 million.
Janssen was helped by Judge Arnold New’s October ruling not to allow plaintiffs
to seek punitive damages in the cases, but that is being appealed.
Though it’s difficult
to determine the exact effectiveness of the causal link between advertising
campaigns and increased numbers of plaintiffs in a drug or device litigation,
Silverstein said a trend of ad campaigns subsequently leading to a spike in
plaintiffs has been seen again and again.
mentioned geography and venue as additional criteria used by advertisers in
mass tort litigation, in that ads will be targeted to areas where it is more
likely potential claimants would be found or where trials will be held.
For example, if a drug
or device had a higher probability of affecting older people, advertisements
tied to litigation around that drug or device would be placed in markets such
Or if a trial is scheduled
to take place in a certain state, more dollars would likewise be spent on
advertising in the region of that venue.
acknowledged both time and technology have paved the way for a change in how
such advertising campaigns are conducted.
“We are seeing
increasingly over time more and more efforts are shifting to online: digital
strategies, digital campaigns,” Silverstein said.
“In particular with
Risperdal, we see a lot of efforts in search engine advertising, as well as
search engine optimization. We’re also seeing more efforts on social media,
like Facebook and Twitter.”
Silverstein said in
these types of litigations, advertisers will generally create Facebook pages
about a particular type of litigation or drug and then place the ads in the
news feeds of targeted demographics, in order to attract subscribers or to
contact the advertiser in question.
“People are now
watching content and consuming media on multiple screens,” Silverstein said. “A
lot of them are trying to reach additional plaintiffs [in ways] besides just
Silverstein added the
amount of social media advertising connected to a given litigation can vary
depending on the product – and social media placement is key in suits in which
potential claimants may be of a younger age, such as Risperdal.
With 12 Risperdal
trials set to begin in Philadelphia courts in 2016, where does Silverstein see
the related advertising campaign headed in the future?
“Depending how those
trials go, if they lead to substantial verdicts or awards in favor of the
plaintiffs, I think you will continue to see increases in advertising and high
levels of Risperdal advertising. Because I think that will be a signal that
this lawsuit is worth pursuing,” Silverstein said.
Silverstein added, “If
the defense manufacturers prevail, I think you may see a decline [in
advertising]. If those trials lead to settlements, typically after settlements
are announced, we will see an increase in advertising too, as law firms try to
wrap up plaintiffs to get a piece of the settlement award.”
the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at firstname.lastname@example.org