A Tennessee man’s $70 million Risperdal award will stand, and the case could be eligible for punitive damages as well. This was the verdict handed down by a Pennsylvania appeals court after Johnson & Johnson appealed the initial jury award and attempted to have the verdict reversed.
The loss of the appeal alone would be bad enough news for Johnson & Johnson and its Janssen Pharmaceuticals unit. However, with ink still drying on news of an $8 billion award of punitive damages in a separate Risperdal case, the prospect of another big verdict has to be weighing heavily on those who also realize that there are still over 13,000 additional Risperdal cases waiting to go to trial.
Risperdal lawsuits stem from the drug’s propensity for causing gynecomastia, or the formation of female breast tissue in males. The disorder can be psychologically taxing and open the sufferer up to ridicule, particularly when young and school aged.
The drug is approved by the FDA as an antipsychotic, however, doctors have been prescribing it off label to treat a number of other disorders. And, while prescribing medications off label is every doctor’s right, drug makers are prohibited from marketing the drugs for any off label uses. Those filing Risperdal gynecomastia lawsuits maintain that not only was the risk of the condition hidden from them but that J&J and Janssen were illegally marketing the drug for off label applications. Those two factors led to Risperdal becoming an enormous success for the corporation and, as a result, led to J&J prioritizing the protection of Risperdal profits over the safety of the public.
News of the $8 billion punitive award sent ripples through Johnson & Johnson and caused a single day loss of almost two and a half percent of the corporation’s stock value. And the lawyers that caused it want to do it again. Bloomberg notes that those same lawyers represent the Tennessee plaintiff and, in an emailed statement, have stated that they “look forward to the punitive damage trial in this case.”