A Philadelphia jury awarded a Maryland man $1.75 million in compensatory damages (which was later reduced to $680,000) against Johnson & Johnson’s subsidiary unit, Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. (“Janssen”), in 2015 but the jury was not permitted at that time to consider awarding punitive damages. An appeals court overturned the trial court and remanded the case on the issue of punitive damages.
On October 8, 2019, a Philadelphia jury awarded the plaintiff $8 billion in punitive damages, finding that Janssen, which distributed the antipsychotic medication Risperdal, had failed to adequately warn prescribers regarding the risk of gynecomastia (abnormal breast tissue growth) in adolescents taking Risperdal and finding that Janssen recklessly ignored the risks of gynecomastia in adolescent boys while marketing Risperdal for use in children.
The plaintiff had taken Risperdal between 2003 (when he was 9-years-old) and 2008, for treatment of his symptoms of autism. As a result, he developed gynecomastia. Risperdal, which treats schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and irritability associated with autism, was one of Johnson & Johnson’s best-selling products before its U.S. patent expired in 2008.
The 12-person Philadelphia jury voted 10 to 2 to award punitive damages (the minimum number of jurors required to award punitive damages in Pennsylvania).
Nicholas Murray v. Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. et al., Case No.130401990, Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania.
Risperdal was originally approved by the FDA in the 1990s to treat schizophrenia in adults. It was not until October 2006 that the FDA approved Risperdal for use in children, for treating symptoms of autism. Risperdal’s warning label at that time stated a 2.3% rate of gynecomastia in adolescent patients taking Risperdal (the previous warning label indicated a rate of less than one patient in 1,000 developing gynecomastia). The Philadelphia jury was shown clinical studies that showed a risk of gynecomastia in children prescribed Risperdal as high as 12%. The plaintiff’s lawyer argued to the jury that Janssen withheld from the FDA relevant data regarding the higher risk of gynecomastia in adolescents using Risperdal.
The plaintiff’s lawyer stated after the verdict, “This is a monumental statement by a jury that clearly was repulsed by what they saw for nearly a month in testimony of this company’s outrageous disregard for the safety of the most vulnerable children in the world … [t]he billions they wanted to make were more important than safety and more important than the truth, and they continued to off-label market year after year after year after year without looking back.”
There are about 7,000 Risperdal cases pending in Philadelphia. There are over 13,000 Risperdal lawsuits pending nationwide. The next Risperdal case scheduled for trial in Philadelphia in which both compensatory and punitive damages are sought is scheduled for December 2019.
If you or a loved one were harmed after taking Risperdal or another drug in the United States, you should promptly find a medical malpractice lawyer (drug claim lawyer) in your state who may investigate your drug claim for you and represent you or your loved one in a claim against a pharmaceutical company, if appropriate.
Visit our website or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959 to find drug claim attorneys who may assist you.
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