Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $8 billion in punitive damages after a man claims the company didn’t warn young men that the drug Risperdal could grow breasts.
Nicholas Murray said he developed breasts after he began taking Risperdal in 2003 when a psychologist diagnosed him with autism spectrum disorder. (In the first clawsuit he was awarded $680,000.)
Murray’s lawyers, Tom Kline and Jason Itkin said in a statement the
“jury told Johnson & Johnson that its actions were deliberate and malicious.
The conduct that the jury saw in the courtroom, was clear and convincing that J&J disregarded the safety of the most vulnerable of children. This is an important moment, not only for this litigation, but for J&J, which is a company that has lost its way.”
Johnson & Johnson said in a statement to CNN, the award
“grossly disproportionate with the initial compensatory award in this case, and the Company is confident it will be overturned…. the jury did not hear evidence as to how the label for RISPERDAL® clearly and appropriately outlined the risks associated with the medicine, or the benefits RISPERDAL® provides to patients with serious mental illness.”
The case is the first of thousands in Pennsylvania where a jury could award punitive damages.
The World Health Organization includes risperidone (the chemical name for Risperdal) on its list of “essential medicines,” meaning the drug is
“one of the minimum medicines needed for a basic healthcare system.”
The drug was finally approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 1993 after being rejected initially.
The FDA alleged that Janssen promoted the drug for use in children and people with mental disabilities, despite knowing the health risks. The agency also alleged that Janssen’s sales representatives told doctors that they needed to increase their Risperdal prescriptions in order to receive speaking fees for speeches set up by Janssen.
Functional Medicine Is Health Oriented, Not Disease Oriented
According to Functional Medicine Associates conventional medicine isn’t really healthcare—it’s disease management. Rather than optimize wellness through preventive and restorative lifestyle strategies, it focuses on managing illness once it has already occurred, primarily by suppressing symptoms with prescription drugs.
In a statement at the time, the company blamed the sales representatives. J&J said Janssen
“did not direct sales representatives to promote Risperdal for use in children or adolescents, and it did not approve sales materials aimed at treating children or adolescents. Risperdal is a safe and effective medication that has helped millions of people live better lives for more than two decades.”
(Photo, screen grab; via CNN)