Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay $8 billion over drug side effect

Henrietta Brewer
October 9, 2019

A law firm for the plaintiff released a statement Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019, saying the companies used an organized scheme to make billions of dollars while illegally marketing and promoting the drug called Risperdal.

The company is facing a series of complaints in the United States for allegedly failing to properly warn of Risperdal's side effects. J&J in 2013 agreed to pay $2.2 billion to settle a federal off-label marketing probe over the drug.

"The company is confident (the ruling) will be overturned", the statement said, and "will be immediately moving to set aside this excessive and unfounded verdict".

J&J maintains the verdict is "grossly disproportionate" to the jury's initial compensatory damages award of $680,000.

The company added, "the jury did not hear evidence as to how the label for RISPERDAL® clearly and appropriately outlined the risks associated with the medicine or the benefits RISPERDAL® provides to patients with serious mental illness". He was originally awarded $680,000 in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.

Mr. Murray's lawyers, Thomas Kline and Jason Itkin, said in a statement that the jury "resoundingly told Johnson & Johnson that its actions were deliberate and malicious". "Further, the plaintiff's attorneys failed to present any evidence that the plaintiff was actually harmed by the alleged conduct".

The drug comes from a J&J subsidiary, Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., and came about on behalf of Nicholas Murray, a Maryland resident who grew breasts after he started using Risperdal as a nine-year-old in 2003 to help control symptoms related to autism.

According to a recent filing, the company faces some 13,400 lawsuits tied to Risperdal, which allege the drug caused a condition called gynecomastia in boys, in which breast tissue becomes enlarged. That's in addition to an ongoing legal battle over its role in the United States opioid addiction crisis.

Risperdal, which treats schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and irritability associated with autism, was one of J&J's highest-selling products before losing its USA patent exclusivity in 2008.

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.

When ruling on appeals, judges often reduce jury punitive-damage awards. It recently agreed to a $20.4m settlement with two counties in the USA state of OH over claims it fuelled the crisis there.

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