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

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Johnson's baby powder remains stocked at a supermarket shelf on August 22, 2017 in Alhambra, California, where a Los Angeles jury on August 21 ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a record $417 million to a woman in hospital who sued the company. A California jury on August 21, 2017 ordered drugmaker Johnson & Johnson to pay 417 million dollars to a woman who claimed she developed terminal ovarian cancer after using the company's talc-based products.The case was one of thousands of lawsuits brought nationwide alleging the company failed to warn consumers of the risk of cancer from talc in its products. AFP

A Pennsylvania jury ruled Tuesday that US pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson must pay $8 billion in damages and interest for failing to warn that a psychiatric drug could cause breast growth in men.

Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals were blamed as plaintiff Nicholas Murray told the Philadelphia court that the drug Risperdal, prescribed to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, had made him grow breasts.

The company challenged the ruling in a statement, calling the damages awarded “grossly disproportionate” with the initial award in the case of $680,000.

“The company is confident (the ruling) will be overturned,” the statement said, and “will be immediately moving to set aside this excessive and unfounded verdict.”

In the statement, Johnson & Johnson accused the court of preventing their defense team from presenting “key evidence” on Risperdal labeling.

The company is facing a series of complaints in state courts for failing to properly warn of Risperdal’s side effects, including in Pennsylvania, California and Missouri.

Risperdal, approved for the treatment of adults by the US Food and Drug Administration in 1993, brought in some $737 million (672 million euros) in sales in 2018.

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