J&J Ordered to Pay $8 Billion in Risperdal Case
A jury in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has ordered US healthcare giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to pay $8 billion in punitive damages to a man who claims the company’s anti-psychotic drug Risperdal caused him to grow breasts.
The latest verdict is the one of thousands of Risperdal cases pending in the state of Pennsylvaniamin which plaintiffs claim that the drug’s manufacturer failed to warn of the risk of gynecomastia (the development of enlarged breasts in males) associated with Risperdal.
Like other male plaintiffs in the mass tort litigation, Nicholas Murray alleged that he developed breasts after taking the prescription medication from 2003 to 2008, following a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder.
Risperdal was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1993 for treating schizophrenia and episodes of bipolar mania in adults but it was not approved for children.
In 2015, a jury awarded Murray $1.75 million after finding that J&J and subsidiary subsidiary Janssen were negligent in failing to warn consumers of the risks of taking the drug. A state appeals court upheld the verdict last year, but reduced the manufacturer’s fine to $680,000.
While the plaintiff’s lawyers said the companies “chose billions over children,” the healthcare giant said the damage award was “grossly disproportionate” with the initial compensatory award and it was “confident” it will be overturned.”
J&J added that the jury in the case “had not been allowed to hear evidence of Risperdal’s benefits.”
Since 2014, Pennsylvania plaintiffs had been barred from seeking punitive damages after a state court judge ruled that the law of New Jersey (which prohibits punitive damages and is J&J’s home state) should be applied globally to the cases. In 2018, however, a superior court in Pennsylvania ruled that the law of each plaintiff’s state should apply.
J&J has suffered several setbacks in the courts recently.
The company has said it will appeal a late August decision in the state of Oklahoma, ordering it to pay $572 million for allegedly fueling the opioid crisis sweeping the US. The country’s largest healthcare company is also fighting more than 15,000 lawsuits claiming its iconic baby powder causes cancer.