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

Johnson and Johnson logo is seen at an office building in Singapore

Johnson and Johnson logo is seen at an office building in Singapore

American giant Johnson & Johnson faces a flood of claims after it was ordered to pay £6.6billion damages to a man who grew breasts after taking an antipsychotic drug.

Johnson & Johnson shares were off more than 2% on Wednesday, a day after a USA jury said it must pay $8 billion in punitive damages to a plaintiff in a case involving its anti-psychotic drug Risperdal, a penalty the company and others are confident will not stand.

In 2015, Murray had won $680,000 in compensatory damages over his claims.

Murray's lawyers, Tom Kline and Jason Itkin said in a statement the "jury told Johnson & Johnson that its actions were deliberate and malicious".

"The company is confident (the ruling) will be overturned", the assertion mentioned, and "will be immediately moving to set aside this excessive and unfounded verdict". It claims that the court violated due process by precluding Johnson & Johnson from presenting key evidence to its defense and neglecting to elicit proof of harm alleged by the plaintiff.

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Nicholas Murray, a 26-year-old who was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, made a decision to begin taking the antipsychotic shortly after his diagnosis. The Food and Drug Administration had not approved the drug for use in children until 2006, but his doctors - at the recommendation of a psychologist - said it would address his sleeping difficulties. The settlement, which also includes marketing claims about two other J&J drugs, was one of the largest US health-fraud penalties in history. Murray developed breast tissue after taking the drug, which was "humiliating" and "often painful", his lawyers said. His mother took him off the drug in 2008.

Johnson & Johnson did not list the rare condition, known as gynecomastia, as one of Risperdal's potential side effects before pulling the controversy-laden drug from the market in 2014. Risperdal resulted in prolactin levels greater than other drugs in its class, according to the opinion, citing a study with a reported rate of gynecomastia in patients of about 2.3 percent.

Professor Carl Tobias of the University of Richmond School of Law said he expected the large damages award to be lowered on appeal.

When ruling on appeals, judges often reduce jury punitive-damage awards. Those cases are in addition to an ongoing legal battle over its role in the USA opioid addiction crisis. On Oct. 1, it agreed to pay $20 million to settle an opioid lawsuit with two OH counties. The company's shares have been under pressure in recent months because of litigation woes spawned by suits alleging its iconic Baby Powder is causing various types of cancers.

"The important number here is the compensatory damages".

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