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Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay US$8 billion over Risperdal side effects

A Philadelphia jury has ordered
Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to pay $US8 billion ($A11.8 billion) in punitive damages to a man who claims its antipsychotic drug, Risperdal, can cause abnormal growth of female breast tissue in boys.

The plaintiff,
Nicholas Murray, filed a lawsuit against the multinational company based on side effects of the drug; an incurable condition known as gynecomastia.

US attorneys Tom Kline and Jason Itkin said in a statement that J&J is “a corporation that valued profits over safety and profits over patients”.

In 2015, Murray was awarded US$1.75 million after finding J&J was negligent in failing to warn of the risk of gynecomastia. A state appeals court upheld the verdict in February 2018 but reduced it to $680,000.

J&J said in a statement that the award is “grossly disproportionate with the initial compensatory award in this case and said it is “a clear violation of due process”.

The FMCG company said that the US Supreme Court precedent states that the “punitive damages awards that are a double-digit multiplier of the compensatory award should be set aside”. It added that it was prevented from being able to present a meaningful rebuttal due to the exclusion of key evidence.

“As a result, 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. Further, the plaintiff’s attorneys failed to present any evidence that the plaintiff was actually harmed by the alleged conduct,” J&J said in a statement responding to the Court decision.

“This decision is inconsistent with multiple determinations outside of Philadelphia regarding the adequacy of the Risperdal labeling, the medicine’s efficacy, and findings in support of the Company,” the company added.

Johnson & Johnson said it is confident the ruling will be overturned. Reuters reported that there are thousands of Risperdal cases pending in the state.

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