A Philadelphia jury on Tuesday struck Johnson & Johnson with a $ 8 billion verdict over the marketing of the antipsychotic drug Risperdal, with a Maryland man claiming that the health care system negated the risk that the drug could cause breast growth in boys .
The Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas verdict was the first to plead guilty to Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, said Thomas R. Kline, a lawyer who is part of a legal team representing the man and more than 10,000 people in similar lawsuits.
Compensatory damages of $ 680,000 were already announced in the case in March 201
Plaintiff, Nicholas Murray, sued the company in 2013. He said he grew breasts – a condition known as gynecomastia – after he began using Risperdal in 2003, 9 years old, to treat the symptoms of autism. The lawsuit accused Janssen of failing to warn doctors of Risperdal's risk while improperly marketing it as a treatment for certain mental disorders in children.
"This jury told Johnson and Johnson at the outset that the actions were deliberate and malicious," Murray's attorneys, Mr. Kline and Jason Itkin, said in a statement Tuesday. "The behavior the jury saw in the courtroom was clear and convincing that J&J took away the safety of the most vulnerable children. This is an important moment, not only for this trial, but for J&J, a company that has lost its way."  [ Like the Science Times page on Facebook. | Sign up for the Science Times newsletter. ]
It's not uncommon for such massive judgments to be
Johnson & Johnson said in a statement that the verdict was in "stark contrast" to the amount of compensation damages, and that the company would "immediately move to set aside this excessive and unfounded verdict."
"The jury did not hear evidence of how the Risperdal label clearly and appropriately explained the risks associated with the medication, or the benefits Risperdal provides to patients with severe mental illness, ”the statement states. "Furthermore, the plaintiff's attorneys failed to provide evidence that the plaintiff was actually harmed by the alleged conduct."
Johnson & Johnson raised nearly $ 82 billion in revenue in 2018 for products such as prescription drugs, medical devices, contact lenses and popular consumer brands such as Tylenol, Motrin and Band-Aids. It has cultivated an image as the trusted brand of doctors, nurses and parents.
Tuesday's verdict was the latest in a series of battles against the company's reputation.
In August, an Oklahoma judge ordered the company to pay the state $ 572 million for its role in the opioid crisis. Johnson & Johnson has also spent years defending lawsuits alleging that talcum powder led to ovarian cancer, as well as claims that there were defective pelvic and artificial hip products.
Johnson & Johnson is not the only company that has faced scrutiny of anti-psychotic drugs. For example, Eli Lilly paid $ 1.4 billion to to settle charges in 2009 for marketing Zyprexa incorrectly, and AstraZeneca agreed to pay $ 520 million in 2010 to resolve similar issues involving Seroquel.
The Food and Drug Administration approved Risperdal for schizophrenia in adults in the 1990s, and the drug received FDA approval to market to children in 2006 for irritability associated with autism.
In 2013, Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay $ 2.2 billion in criminal and civil penalties, in part to settle allegations that the drug was illegally marketed as a way to control patients. with dementia in nursing homes and children with certain behavioral difficulties.
In a business filing in June, the company revealed that there were 13,400 people sued over Risperdal.
In Mr. Murray's case, a jury awarded $ 1.75 million in compensation damages in November 2015, a sum that was later reduced to $ 680,000 in March 2016.
A judge had initially blocked punitive damages in the case. But that was reversed on appeal in 2018, Kline said, setting the stage for Tuesday's verdict.