Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay man $8bn over breast growth

JB Reed  Bloomberg News

The case is unrelated to a string of big-money lawsuits the company is facing over its signature baby powder.

A sign is posted at the Johnson & Johnson campus on 26 August 2019 in Irvine, California.

Johnson & Johnson will have to pay $8 billion in punitive damages after a man claims the company didn't warn young men that the drug Risperdal could grow breasts, a jury said Tuesday, according to Reuters.

This is not Murray's first win in the case against the company behind Risperdal.

J&J said it was precluded from presenting a meaningful defense due to the court's exclusion of key evidence, and that the prescribing label for Risperdal properly outlined its risks.


Plaintiffs claim that J&J failed to warn of the risk of gynecomastia, the development of enlarged breasts in males, associated with Risperdal, which they say the company marketed for unapproved uses with children.

In 2013, in one of the largest health care fraud settlements in U.S. 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. "Johnson & Johnson and (subsidiary) Janssen chose billions over children". "United States Supreme Court precedent dictates that punitive damages awards that are a double-digit multiplier of the compensatory award should be set aside", the spokesperson said.

"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.

Murray, like other male plaintiffs in the mass tort litigation over Risperdal, alleges that he developed breasts after being prescribed the medicine and taking it from 2003 to 2008.

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". Those cases are in addition to an ongoing legal battle over its role in the U.S. opioid addiction crisis. It recently agreed to a $20.4m settlement with two counties in the USA state of OH over claims it fuelled the crisis there. But then an appeals court allowed the jury to award punitive damages as well, opening the door to Tuesday's ruling - and potentially others like it, in thousands of similar cases.

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