Johnson & Johnson must pay $8B over Risperdal drug linked to male breast growth

The jury determined the award should go to a single plaintiff.

October 9, 2019, 1:44 PM

A Pennsylvania jury ordered Johnson & Johnson and its drugmakers Janssen Pharmaceuticals to pay $8 billion in damages in a lawsuit over the anti-psychotic drug Risperdal that has been linked to the growth of breast tissue in boys.

The verdict came from a jury in Philadelphia County's Court of Common Pleas Tuesday, and was the first in thousands of Risperdal cases pending in the Philadelphia court system to be heard.

It was also the first time a jury determined whether to award punitive damages -- which they determined to be $8 billion to a single plaintiff -- in a Risperdal trial.

“Johnson and Johnson is a company which has lost its way," attorneys Tom Kline and Jason Itkin, who represented the plaintiff, said in a joint statement following the verdict.

Risperdal has been linked to a non-curable condition known as gynecomastia, the abnormal enlargement of breast tissue in males. Attorneys for the plaintiff argued that Johnson and Johnson marketed the drug without warning patients enough about its link to gynecomastia.

People walk along a corridor at the headquarters of Johnson & Johnson in New Brunswick, N.J., July 30, 2013.
Mel Evans/AP, FILE

"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," the attorneys' statement added. "Johnson & Johnson and Janssen chose billions over children.”

Johnson & Johnson called the jury's determination "grossly disproportionate with the initial compensatory award in this case" and added that it is "confident it will be overturned."

"This award for a single plaintiff stands in stark contrast with the initial $680,000 compensatory award and is a clear violation of due process," the company added in a statement.

Johnson & Johnson also defended their labeling of Risperdal, saying that it "clearly and appropriately outlined the risks associated with the medicine," and the benefits it provides to patients with mental illness.

The company said that they were unable to present a "meaningful defense due to the Court’s exclusion of key evidence" and argued attorneys for the plaintiff did not present any evidence that the plaintiff suffered actual harm.

"We will be immediately moving to set aside this excessive and unfounded verdict," the company added.