Court orders Johnson & Johnson to pay $8 billion in Risperdal case
A jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $8 billion in damages to a man who accused the company of failing to warn young male users of its antipsychotic drug Risperdal could develop breasts.
Brendan Pierson and Nate Raymond reported the news for Reuters:
Johnson & Johnson must pay $8 billion in punitive damages to a man who previously won $680,000 over his claims that it failed to warn that young men using its antipsychotic drug Risperdal could grow breasts, a Philadelphia jury said on Tuesday.
The Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas jury’s verdict in favor of Nicholas Murray came in the first case in which a Pennsylvania jury had been able to consider awarding punitive damages in one of thousands of Risperdal cases pending in the state.
“This jury, as have other juries in other litigations, once again imposed punitive damages on a corporation that valued profits over safety and profits over patients,” Murray’s lawyers, Tom Kline and Jason Itkin, said in a joint statement. “Johnson & Johnson and (subsidiary) Janssen chose billions over children.”
J&J said the award was “grossly disproportionate with the initial compensatory award in this case, and the company is confident it will be overturned.” It added that the jury in the case had not been allowed to hear evidence of Risperdal’s benefits.
CNN’s Rob Frehse wrote:
Nicholas Murray, 26, previously won $680,000 in the case over the antipsychotic drug Risperdal in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.
Murray says he developed breasts after he began taking Risperdal in 2003 when a psychologist diagnosed him with autism spectrum disorder, according to Reuters.
Murray’s lawyers, Tom Kline and Jason Itkin said in a statement the “jury told Johnson & Johnson that its actions were deliberate and malicious.”
The World Health Organization includes risperidone, the chemical name for Risperdal, on its list of “essential medicines,” meaning the drug is “one of the minimum medicines needed for a basic healthcare system.”
But since 1994, when J&J put Risperdal on the market, the drug has drawn a significant amount of attention and controversy, beyond undisclosed side effects.
In 2013, in one of the largest health care fraud settlements in US history, the Department of Justice said Risperdal and two other drugs manufactured by Johnson & Johnson were promoted for dementia patients, even though Risperdal was approved only to treat schizophrenia. This use was not approved as safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration.
The drug was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 1993.
“The conduct at issue in this case jeopardized the health and safety of patients and damaged the public trust,” then-Attorney General Eric Holder said at the time.
The BBC noted this is not the only legal trouble J & J is having:
The US giant is also facing court challenges over vaginal mesh implants and baby powder allegedly tainted with asbestos. That’s in addition to an ongoing legal battle over its role in the US opioid addiction crisis.
Earlier this year, the company was ordered to pay $572m for its part in fuelling Oklahoma’s opioid addiction crisis. It recently agreed to a $20.4m settlement with two counties in the US state of Ohio over claims it fuelled the crisis there.
The company’s mounting legal bills have caused concern among some investors, but its earnings have remained strong.
J&J is facing a series of complaints in state courts for failing to properly warn of Risperdal’s side effects, including in Pennsylvania, California and Missouri.