Johnson & Johnson lost a court battle on Tuesday when a Philadelphia jury awarded $8 billion in damages to a plaintiff after Risperdal, one of the company’s antipsychotic drugs, was found to cause abnormal breast tissue growth in males.
Lawyers for the plaintiff were able to link the growth of female breast tissue in boys to the drug. The condition, known as gynecomastia, is irreversible.
Johnson & Johnson quickly denounced the decision, stating that the company will take immediate action to overturn the decision. The company claims that the award is “excessive and unfounded.” Representatives for the plaintiff claim that the company engaged in the illegal promotion and marketing of the drug, and valued profits over the safety of their patients.
Risperdal is the center of thousands of lawsuits, but this is the first lawsuit where a jury decided to award punitive damages to the plaintiff. Johnson & Johnson claims that they’re confident that the award will be overturned and that key evidence was excluded which made it impossible to mount a meaningful defense.
The company further claims that the plaintiff’s attorneys never presented any actual evidence of the drug, causing the plaintiff harm.
The plaintiff took Risperdal from 2003 to 2008, claiming that the drug caused him to grow female breast tissue. The drug is prescribed for irritability, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, and the plaintiff had been taking the drug since he was a child due to difficulty sleeping.
Nicholas Murray, the Maryland man who filed the lawsuit, previously won a $680,000 award in 2015, but the award did not include punitive damages.
Johnson & Johnson is facing a mountain of lawsuits. The company and its subsidiary Janssen recently agreed to pay $20.4 million in two Ohio counties for the company’s involvement in the opioid epidemic. The company agreed to the settlement in an effort to avoid a costly federal trial.