Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay $US8 billion (nearly $12 billion) in punitive damages in a case involving the way that the anti-psychotic drug Risperdal was marketed. Some male patients have argued that the drug caused them to grow large breasts and that the company downplayed this side effect when marketing the drug to doctors.
The $US8 billion (nearly $12 billion) payout, which could be lowered later, was decided by a jury in Philadelphia on Tuesday, according to a report from the New York Times. Compensatory damages against Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, were already awarded in 2016 and were a comparatively small $US680,000 (just over $1 million), according to the Times.
Nicholas Murray, the plaintiff, began taking Risperdal in 2003 at the age of just 9 years old to treat symptoms related to autism. Murray allegedly grew breasts, and the lawsuit claimed the full extent of the side effects weren’t properly disclosed to doctors. Murray’s legal team represents roughly 10,000 other clients who allege similar things against Johnson & Johnson.
Johnson & Johnson did not respond to Gizmodo’s request for comment but told the New York Times that it would work to set aside the “excessive and unfounded verdict.”
“The jury did not hear evidence as to how the label for Risperdal clearly and appropriately outlined the risks associated with the medicine, or the benefits Risperdal provides to patients with serious mental illness,” Johnson & Johnson told the New York Times in a statement. “Further, the plaintiff’s attorneys failed to present any evidence that the plaintiff was actually harmed by the alleged conduct.”
Risperdal was approved by the FDA in 1993 to treat schizophrenia, was approved for bipolar disorder in 2003, and approved to treat autism symptoms in 2006.
In a landmark ruling, Oklahoma judge Thad Balkman ruled against pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson today in the first trial meant to extract retribution from drugmakers for fuelling the unprecedented wave of opiate-related overdoses and deaths in the United States.