Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, were ordered to pay a Tennessee man and his family $70 million in the fifth Risperdal lawsuit to go to trial in Philadelphia. The jury found J&J and Janssen negligent in failing to warn that Risperdal could cause young men to develop breasts, a condition called gynecomastia.
Risperdal is an antipsychotic medication originally approved to treat schizophrenia in adults. However, it became popular as an off-label treatment for autism and other behavioral disorders in children before being approved by the FDA for use in children.
In the trial, plaintiff’s attorneys presented evidence the company manipulated clinical trial data to downplay the risks of gynecomastia associated with the drug. To support this claim was a taped deposition from former FDA Commissioner David Kessler, who testified J&J obscured clinical evidence given to the FDA to deemphasize the link between Risperdal and gynecomastia.
J&J has already paid heavily for Risperdal. In 2013, J&J agreed to pay $2.2 billion to settle criminal and civil claims that the company illegally marketed Risperdal for use in children and the elderly. On top of that, four previous lawsuits also found J&J negligent and awarded million dollar verdicts to plaintiffs. Additionally, more than 1,500 lawsuits concerning Risperdal are pending in Pennsylvania.
But these lawsuits and settlements are just a drop in the bucket for Risperdal. The medication is a blockbuster that pulls in billions in sales each year. However, the latest trial does put J&J’s gross negligence in the spotlight, which may cause consumers to lose trust in the company.
Before the year is out, J&J will face several more pivotal lawsuits in the talcum powder and hip implant lawsuits. Both have already gained multimillion-dollar verdicts for the plaintiffs, including a whopping $502 million to six plaintiffs in a hip implant trial this past May.