A Philadelphia jury on Tuesday said Johnson & Johnson (J&J) must pay $ 8 billion in punitive damages to a man because of his allegations that a drug manufactured by the US company caused him to grow breasts.
The judgment in favor of Nicholas Murray, 26, came first in one of thousands of Risperdal cases pending in Pennsylvania.
Murray claims that, like other male complainants in the mass litigation over Risperdal, he developed breasts after being prescribed the drug and took it from 2003 to 2008. A psychologist prescribed the drug after diagnosing him with autism spectrum disorder. In late 1993, the drug was approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of schizophrenia and adult bipolar mania episodes.
Four years ago, a jury awarded Murray $ 1.75 million after discovering that J&J was neglecting not to warn consumers about the risks. A state appeals court upheld the ruling last year, but reduced it to $ 680,000.
"This jury, like other juries in other litigation, again inflicted punitive damages on a company that valued patient safety and profits," Murray's attorneys, Tom Kline and Jason Itkin, said. "Johnson & Johnson and [subsidiary] Janssen chose billions over children," they said.
J&J said that the award was "grossly disproportionate to the original compensation award in this case, and the company is confident that it will be overturned. " It added that the jury in the case had not heard evidence of Risperdal's merits.
The complainant claims that Johnson & Johnson failed to warn of the risk of gynecomastia (the development of enlarged breasts in men) associated with Risperdal, which they say promoted J&J for unauthorized use with children.
Complainant in mass trial had been barred from seeking punitive damages since 2014, when a state judge ruled that the New Jersey law (which prohibits punitive damages and is J & J's home state) should be applied globally to cases.
In 2018, a Pennsylvania Superior Court judgment struck the road for punitive damages, which held that the law of each appellant's state should apply instead.
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