On July 1st, a jury in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas returned a $70 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson for failing to warn of the risks of its antipsychotic drug Risperdal, which has been linked to the development of female breasts in male patients.
Jason Itkin of Arnold & Itkin LLP. served as plaintiffs’ counsel on the case.
The verdict, awarded to a sixteen-year-old Tennessee native and his parents, represents the largest award for a Risperdal gynocomastia case thus far, dwarfing an earlier $2.5 million verdict awarded to an Alabama man who developed 46 DD breasts after taking the drug, as well as a $500,000 verdict from late 2015.
The most recent case is the fifth verdict in which Johnson & Johnson, along with its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals, has been found responsible for a failure to warn about the drug’s risks by a Philadelphia jury.
In a July 6 Bloomberg BNA article, Thomas Kline, one of the lead plaintiff’s counsel in the mass Risperdal litigation, claimed that more than 1,500 cases are still pending in Philadelphia courts.
In addition, over 8,000 Risperdal cases have been filled in state and federal courts across the country.Looking for an expert witness? Click here to connect with a highly credentialed and pre-vetted expert in any discipline.
In a statement, Janssen outlined its belief that the award is excessive and indicated a possible appeal, saying that the company “…will seek a review by the trial court and appellate court, if necessary.”
The case is the latest in a series of legal defeats suffered by Johnson & Johnson for its marketing of Risperdal.
In the first of the Philadelphia cases, former FDA commissioner David Kessler served as an expert witness for the plaintiffs, where he testified that J & J knew the risks associated with Risperdal, but did not disclose the data to the FDA.
In a report written for a 2012 case that ended in a settlement, Kessler wrote that J & J subsidiary Janssen had acted illegally by promoting the drug for the treatment of dementia and ADD – off-label uses that Risperdal had not received approval for.
In the report, Kessler said “Janssen’s promotion of Risperdal, a powerful drug, for non-approved uses in the most vulnerable children is deeply troubling.”
One year later, Johnson & Johnson paid more than $2.2 billion to end criminal and civil investigations into its marketing practices for Risperdal and two other drugs, one of the largest ever penalties for health-fraud in the U.S.
The recent $70 million verdict in Philadelphia was for compensatory damages alone, however a ruling that barred putative damages against the drug maker is currently on appeal.
This award comes on the heels of a $72 million verdict against the company from a Missouri court in February, which found that J & J’s failed to warn a customer of the risk of ovarian cancer caused by talc in the company’s Baby Powder.
In May, the same court awarded another plaintiff $55 million for ovarian cancer that she developed after using J & J’s talc products.