Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay Pennsylvania man $8 billion over claims he wasn't warned antipsychotic drug could make him grow breasts

johnson and johnsonMario Tama/Getty Images

  • A man has won $8 billion in punitive damages from Johnson & Johnson over claims antipsychotic drugs gave him breasts without warning.
  • Nicholas Murray, 26 was given Risperdal between 2003 and 2008 to treat troubled sleeping, a result of autism, court documents show, but developed gynecomastia, a condition where female breast tissue grows in men.
  • Attorneys for Murray said Johnson & Johnson "knew that there was a significant risk of gynecomastia in male children" but "failed to warn healthcare providers."
  • Johnson & Johnson denies there is a "significant risk" of developing gynecomastia from Risperdal, and said it would appeal the "grossly disproportionate" penalty.
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A man has been awarded $8 billion in damages over claims he wasn't forewarned his antipsychotic medicine from Johnson & Johnson could cause him to develop breasts

A jury at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas ruled on Tuesday that Nicholas Murray had been misled by the pharmaceutical giant, and that they should pay the huge damages as a result, Reuters reported.

Johnson & Johnson "valued profits over safety and profits over patients," Tom Kline and Jason Itkin, the attorneys for Murray, said in a statement.

Murray, now 26, was prescribed the drug Risperdal as a minor by pediatricians between 2003 and 2008 because he had trouble sleeping, a result of "autism spectrum disorder," court documents show.

The drug is commonly prescribed to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, but is also used as a sleeping medicine.

Murray claimed taking Risperdal, produced by Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen, caused him to developed gynecomastia, a condition where breast tissue usually found in women starts to grow in men.

RisperdalThe drug Risperdal, made by Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen.CBS News

Johnson & Johnson "denied that there [was] any significant risk of gynecomastia from the use of Risperdal," the documents show.

Attorneys for Murray, however, argued there was evidence Johnson & Johnson "knew that there was a significant risk of gynecomastia in male children and adolescents but failed to warn healthcare providers."

Read more: The $572 million fine Johnson & Johnson has to pay for its role in the opioid epidemic is only 4% of its annual profit

Murray was awarded $680,000 compensation by a court in 2015, but those were not punitive damages on the company, The New York Times reported.

The medical multinational said on Tuesday the $8 billion figure was "grossly disproportionate with the initial compensatory award in this case," and that the they are "confident it will be overturned."

Professor Carl Tobias of the University of Richmond School of Law told Reuters the amount will almost certainly be reduced on appeal in the Supreme Court, and that the jury was simply sending a message.

Risperdal was approved in 1993 by the US Food and Drug Administration for severe schizophrenia, but was slowly prescribed for less serious conditions over time.

Legal claims have dogged Risperdal since it began circulating, and there are currently 13,000 lawsuits alleging Risperdal caused gynecomastia in boys, The Wall Street Journal reported.

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