Johnson & Johnson On Hook For $8 Billion After Jury Awards Man Who Grew Breast As Drug Side Effect
Johnson & Johnson will pay a man at least $8 billion after a Philadelphia jury ruled that the company’s drug caused the man to grow breasts. 26-year-old Nicholas Murray claims that after his doctor prescribed Risperdal in 2003, he developed a condition called gynecomastia, which increases breast tissue density in males. Murray’s award is the largest to date regarding a Risperdal side-effect. There are 13,000 lawsuits against the company regarding similar matters.
In 2003, Murray’s psychologist diagnosed him with autism. Following the diagnosis, he was prescribed Risperdal. The drug is supposed to help ease and manage symptoms such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia-related to autism. But Murray and many others claim the drug made their lives worse with vicious side effects. Many of the suits claim the drug was irresponsibly marketed to children.
This isn’t Murray’s first go at J&J. In 2015, he was awarded $1.75 million for similar claims. That award was later reduced to $680,000 through an appeals process. It is unclear if J&J plans to appeal this more recent verdict, but it’s probably a safe bet that they will. The massive pharmaceutical company described the award as “grossly disproportionate with the initial compensatory award in this case, and the company is confident it will be overturned.”
But Murray’s lawyers vehemently disagree with J&J’s stance.
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“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. “Johnson & Johnson and [subsidiary] Janssen chose billions over children.”
The award might be a signal to pharmaceutical companies in a day and age where opioid addiction is a major media focal point.
The FDA approved the use of Risperdal in the early 1990s as a treatment for schizophrenia and bipolar disorders. With the increase in autism rates over the past two decades, the drug’s use has risen; hence, so have the claims against J&J.
J&J remains a company under deep scrutiny following a series of expensive litigations involving their baby powder product and cancer. Just a day ago, a Georgia trial over the matter ended in a mistrial. A week ago, a California woman received a $40 billion award after claiming the powder caused her Mesothelioma.
It’s safe to say that times aren’t good for J&J, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world.
Author: Jim Satney
PrepForThat’s Editor and lead writer for political, survival, and weather categories.