Johnson & Johnson to pay $8B in male breast growth case

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In making his case against the company, Murray said he was prescribed Risperdal at the age of 9 to treat symptoms related to autism spectrum disorder, even though the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had approved it in the 1990s to specifically address schizophrenia and instances of bipolar mania in adults.

Murray, like other male plaintiffs in the mass tort litigation over Risperdal, alleges that he developed breasts after being prescribed the medicine and taking it from 2003 to 2008.

Murray's lawyers accused Johnson & Johnson of marketing the drug as something suitable for children in order to maximize the company's profits, claiming that it chose "billions over children".

In 2013, in one of the largest health care fraud settlements in USA history, the Department of Justice said Risperdal and two other drugs manufactured by Johnson & Johnson were promoted for dementia patients, even though Risperdal was approved only to treat schizophrenia.

The company is facing a series of complaints in the USA for allegedly failing to properly warn of Risperdal's side effects. Murray's lawyers are representing thousands of other people with similar claims against Johnson & Johnson.

"(Johnson & Johnson is) a corporation that valued profits over safety and profits over patients", they said in a statement.

The $8bn award was on top of initial compensation of $680,000 (£557,000) handed over in the case.

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However, Johnson & Johnson have responded to the suit to say the payout was "grossly disproportionate" and that it was "confident" the decision will be overturned at appeal.

While the drug's label does note that gynecomastia was reported in 2.3% of Risperdal-treated patients in clinical trials involving 1885 children and adolescents, the lawsuits generally claim the company understated the risk.

The jury, the company added, had not been allowed to hear evidence of the drug's benefits.

A jury in 2015 awarded Mr Murray $1.75m after finding the company was negligent in failing to warn consumers of the risks.

Previously, a Pennsylvania judge ruled New Jersey law, which prohibits punitive damages and is Johnson & Johnson's home state, should be applied to all cases.

"United States Supreme Court precedent dictates that punitive damages awards that are a double-digit multiplier of the compensatory award should be set aside".

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