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

JB Reed  Bloomberg News

A Philadelphia jury has ruled that Johnson & Johnson and Janssen Pharmaceuticals must pay $8 billion in punitive damages over an antipsychotic drug linked to the abnormal growth of female breast tissue in boys.

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

A Philadelphia jury has directed United States drug firm Johnson & Johnson to pay $8 billion to a man who claims to have developed breasts by using the drugs manufactured by the company, according to a report in Forbes.

Johnson & Johnson denied the allegations, and said it's confident the ruling will be overturned.

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

Murray said he was prescribed the medicine at age 9 for symptoms related to autism spectrum disorder, despite the fact that the FDA's approval of the drug in the 1990s was to treat schizophrenia and episodes of bipolar mania in adults.

Professor Carl Tobias of the University of Richmond School of Law said he expects the punitive damages to be lowered on appeal, citing a U.S. Supreme Court decision which found that "few awards exceeding a single-digit ratio between punitive and compensatory damages, to a significant degree, will satisfy due process". J&J in 2013 agreed to pay $2.2 billion to settle a federal off-label marketing probe over the drug.

"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".

While the drug can treat certain mental health disorders, Murray's lawyers charged that it also has a tendency to create a hormonal imbalance, with elevated levels of a hormone called prolactin. Aside from thousands of Risperdal lawsuits, the company faces about 15,500 talc cases and opioid litigation from across the country, among other legal issues.

More recently, a judge in Oklahoma ordered the company to pay $572 million after that state sued the drugmaker for its opioid marketing.

Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $575m by Oklahoma earlier this year over the company's historic involvement in the opioid crisis and earlier this month it reached a $20.4m settlement in OH over similar cases.

Last week, however, Johnson & Johnson reached a $20.4 million settlement with two OH counties in another massive suit on the opioid crisis.

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