Shannen Findlay

Body

Man awarded $11.8 billion for bizarre side effects to Johnson & Johnson medication

Man awarded $11.8 billion for bizarre side effects to Johnson & Johnson medication

US pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay a hefty AU$11.8 billion in damages after they failed to warn that its drug, Risperdal, could cause bizarre breast growth in men. 

Nicholas Murray told a court in Philadelphia the psychiatric medication, normally prescribed to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, had made him grow breasts. 

His attorneys, Tom Kline and Jason Itkine, argued the drug had links to gynecomastia, an incurable condition - and accused Johnson & Johnson of making billions of dollars while illegally marketing and promoting the drug. 

“(Johnson & Johnson is) a corporation that valued profits over safety and profits over patients,” they said in a statement.

However Johnson & Johnson immediately challenged the ruling, explaining the damages as “grossly disproportionate” in a statement. 

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

The company said the courts exclusions of key evidence left it unable to present a meaningful defence, including what they described was on the drug label that “clearly and appropriately outlined the risks associated with the medicine” or Risperdal’s benefits for 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,” the company added.

Thousands of lawsuits have been filed over the drug, including in Pennsylvania, California and Missouri.

Mr Kline and Mr Itkin said this was the first time a jury had made the decision to award punitive damages and had come up with an amount. 

Risperdal was approved for the treatment of adults by the US Food and Drug Administration in 1993 and brought in about A$1 billion in sales in 2018.