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Johnson & Johnson Socked with $8 Billion Verdict for Failure to Warn Physicians about Side Effects of Autism Medicine

medication errors

A jury awarded a Maryland man $8 billion from pharmaceutical and device manufacturer Johnson & Johnson after he suffered medication side effects that the company did not mention to prescribing physicians.

Risperdal is an anti-psychotic drug prescribed by physicians for patients suffering schizophrenia, mania, and some dementia disorders.  It is also prescribed for disorders on the autism spectrum.

After being prescribed the medication when he was nine years of age, now-26-year-old Nicholas Murray suffers from gynecomastia, a condition that caused him to grow female breast tissue.

This Lawsuit Is Not Alone

The lawsuit in this matter was against Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.  Far from an isolated case, this is one of approximately 10,000 cases facing the subsidiary for the marketing of Risperdal to boys and young men who later developed breasts.

At issue in the award was evidence accepted by the jury that Janssen knew the medication could lead to the growth of breast tissue in males.  Like many other medications, Risperdal has other potential side effects including disordered thinking, mobility difficulties, and difficulty breathing.

By itself, gynecomastia is not uncommon in males after birth, during adolescence, and after middle age.  At younger ages, the condition generally resolves itself when the child grows out of hormone imbalances. For boys with medically induced gynecomastia, the condition can sometimes only be resolved with liposuction, or surgical removal of breast tissue or the breast.

In the case of Mr. Murray, he has been awarded $680,000 in compensatory damages prior to the jury finding of punitive damages against Johnson & Johnson.  Punitive damage awards are generally reserved by juries for defendants they believe have acted in a willful, malicious, or egregious matter.  Here the jury found that Johnson & Johnson acted it its own interests, rather than warning patients of the potential for breast growth in males.

Sending a Message

While intended to send a message, it is not likely the $8 billion punitive damage award will stand, and Johnson & Johnson has signaled it will move to have the verdict set aside.  Despite that, the company brand is again tarnished by its inappropriate self-interest instead of working on behalf of the individuals and communities to which it markets its products.

Medical error, negligence, defective medical devices, and dangerous medications are common in the medical industry.  If you are seriously harmed through physician or facility error—speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney in your area.

Washington, D.C. and Maryland attorneys provide aggressive legal representation on your behalf

The attorneys at Schochor, Federico and Staton, P.A. deliver comprehensive legal support to patients who suffer medical error in Maryland, Washington, D.C., or across the nation.  Contact us or call 410-234-1000 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your situation.

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