After a series of high-profile (and costly) legal setbacks, the hits keep coming for Johnson & Johnson. Tuesday, October 8th saw a Philadelphia jury award a Maryland man $8,000,000,000 in punitive damages after he said his use of the antipsychotic drug Risperdal as a child caused him to develop enlarged breasts. Yes, BILLION, with a “B.”
The award was the largest to date among more than 13,000 lawsuits which generally claim that Risperdal led the plaintiffs to develop a condition called gynecomastia, a side effect which Johnson & Johnson was allegedly aware of but understated when marketing their product to doctors.
Originally approved in late 1993 by the Food and Drug Administration, Risperdal was originally approved for treating schizophrenia and episodes of bipolar mania in adults before eventually being expanded to treat symptoms of autism.
The plaintiff in the case—Nicholas Murray, 26, of Maryland—originally won a $680,000 compensatory award over the same claims. Although the punitive damages are likely to be reduced some, the move by the jury sends a message to companies that gross misconduct and wrongdoing will not be tolerated.
Tuesday’s verdict is just the latest in a string of high-profile blows to the wider reputation of Johnson & Johnson. An August ruling in Oklahoma ordered the company to pay the state $572 million for their contribution to the state’s opioid crisis; similarly, a St. Louis jury found that Johnson & Johnson should pay $4,690,000,000 to 22 ovarian cancer victims and their families after use of the company’s baby powder allegedly led to the ovarian cancer diagnoses.