Medical and pharmaceutical manufacturing company Johnson & Johnson has made its way into the legal spotlight once again, but this time not for the defects associated with its baby powder. Earlier this week, Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $8 billion in punitive damages at the conclusion of an important case surrounding the drug Risperdal. The plaintiff alleged that after taking Risperdal as a child, he developed an incurable condition called gynecomastia which caused him to develop enlarged breasts.
Risperdal is an antipsychotic drug that was approved for sale by the FDA in 1993 to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and irritability associated with autism. When it was initially released, the FDA disapproved of it being used in children but eventually allowed it for limited use in children over ten.
By 2010, thousands of people had filed lawsuits alleging they’d suffered the effects of gynecomastia linked to the use of Risperdal. Even still, Johnson & Johnson continued to market Risperdal to adolescent psychiatrists and pediatricians to the tune of $1.5 billion in sales.
The plaintiff, in this particular case, claimed to have been prescribed Risperdal when he was nine, although the FDA’s drug approval at the time only covered its use for schizophrenia and episodes of bipolar mania in adults. The Philadelphia jury concluded—in agreement with the plaintiff’s attorneys—that Johnson & Johnson marketed the drug for unapproved, off-label use in children to increase profits and failed to adequately warn the plaintiff of Risperdal’s side effects.
Punitive damages of $8 billion were awarded to the plaintiff, meant to discourage the company from engaging in similar conduct in the future. Johnson & Johnson continues to deny these allegations and plan to appeal the ruling.
If you or a loved one believe you’ve experienced potentially dangerous or unstated side effects associated with pharmaceutical products, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Reach out to an experienced attorney to discuss the legal options available to you.