Johnson & Johnson must pay $8bn over drug side effect - jury

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A jury in Philadelphia, according to legal web site Law360, hit the drug giant with the staggering payout "after agreeing the company had recklessly ignored the risks that the antipsychotic drug Risperdal could lead to breast growth in adolescent boys as it pushed the medication for use in children". A Philadelphia jury has ordered it to pay $8 billion in punitive damages in a case unrelated to lawsuits over its signature baby powder.

Murray, like other male plaintiffs in the mass tort litigation over Risperdal, alleges that he developed breasts after being prescribed the medicine, which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved in the 1990s only for treating schizophrenia in adults, when he was a minor.

Johnson & Johnson used an organized scheme to make billions of dollars while illegally marketing and promoting the drug, attorneys Tom Kline and Jason Itkin said in a statement.

"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".

This is not Murray's first win in the case against the company behind Risperdal. In 2015, a jury awarded Murray $1.75 million, which a judge later reduced to $680,000.

Lawyers for Murray and Johnson & Johnson had disputed whether the makers of Risperdal knew about the relationship between the drug and the condition, and whether they had appropriately conveyed that risk to doctors and clients.

The company said it is confident the ruling will be overturned, and said the court prevented their legal team from presenting "key evidence" on the drug's labelling.

The drug comes from a J&J subsidiary, Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., and came about on behalf of Nicholas Murray, a Maryland resident who grew breasts after he started using Risperdal as a nine-year-old in 2003 to help control symptoms related to autism.

Risperdal, which treats schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and irritability associated with autism, was one of J&J's highest-selling products before losing its US patent exclusivity in 2008.

The ruling marks another costly setback for Johnson & Johnson.

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