Johnson & Johnson hit as jury awards 'excessive' $8 billion in damages

The award came in the case of Nicholas Murray, a Maryland resident who began taking Risperdal as a child to help battle autism.

It was the biggest award to date among more than 13,000 lawsuits against J&J alleging that Risperdal caused a condition called gynecomastia in boys, which involves enlargement of breast tissue.

Kline and Itkin said that Johnson & Johnson was "a corporation that valued profits over safety and profits over patients". 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.

J&J said the award was "grossly disproportionate" with the initial compensation in the case, adding it was "confident it will be overturned" on appeal as jurors had been prevented from hearing evidence of Risperdal's benefits. Murray sued the company in 2013 eventually being awarded $1.75 million in damages, according to a release by Murray's lawyers following the verdict in 2015.

In 2018, a Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled punitive damages were permitted, noting the state where each plaintiff's lives should be the determining factor, according to Reuters.

Within the assertion, Johnson & Johnson accused the courtroom of stopping their protection crew from presenting "key evidence" on Risperdal labeling.

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In response to the verdict, Johnson & Johnson, which brought in almost $82 billion in revenue past year, told the Times that it would be "immediately moving to set aside this excessive and unfounded verdict".

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.

Murray's lawyers claimed the drug, which is prescribed to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other mental health disorders, can create a hormonal imbalance and elevate production of prolactin.

"This decision is inconsistent with multiple determinations outside of Philadelphia regarding the adequacy of the Risperdal labeling, the medicine's efficacy, and findings in support of the company", Johnson & Johnson said.

The lawsuit claimed that J&J knew about the risk of gynecomastia and allegedly failed to properly warn doctors and healthcare providers about it.

Last year, a Missouri jury ordered the company to pay $4.69 billion to 22 women who say Johnson & Johnson's talcum powder gave them ovarian cancer.

  • Darren Santiago