Johnson & Johnson to pay $8B in male breast growth case

JB Reed  Bloomberg News

Thousands of lawsuits have been filed over the drug, including in Pennsylvania, California and Missouri, but Mr Kline and Mr Itkin said this was the first time a jury had decided whether to award punitive damages and had come up with an amount.

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".

Johnson & Johnson did not list the rare condition, known as gynecomastia, as one of Risperdal's potential side effects before pulling the controversy-laden drug from the market in 2014. "Johnson & Johnson and [subsidiary] Janssen chose billions over children". Murray developed breast tissue after taking the drug, which was "humiliating" and "often painful", his lawyers said.

J&J said the award was "grossly disproportionate with the initial compensatory award" and said it was confident it would be overturned.

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. But a different label in 2006 said the risk was higher, lawyers charged.

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When ruling on appeals, judges often reduce jury punitive-damage awards. In August, an Oklahoma judge ordered the company to pay $572 million for contributing to the state's opioid-addiction crisis.

Given the number of trials J&J and Janssen still face in Philadelphia, the $8 billion verdict may prompt consideration of setting up a global settlement of the Risperdal litigation, said Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond law professor who teaches about mass torts. The company is appealing both decisions and denying those allegations. Last week, J&J said it agreed to pay $20.4 million to settle lawsuits filed by two OH counties alleging the company helped spark the opioid epidemic; the company didn't admit liability.

According to the company's most recent SEC filings in June, 13,400 people are suing Johnson & Johnson in over Risperdal. The company did not admit it helped cause the epidemic. Initially, those lawsuits were limited to compensatory damages only.

A USA jury has awarded $8bn in punitive damages against Johnson & Johnson and one if its subsidiaries over a drug that the plaintiff's attorneys say is linked to the abnormal growth of female breast tissue in boys.

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