04:25 GMT05 July 2020
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    Medical company Johnson & Johnson has been ordered by a Philadelphia court to pay $8 billion in punitive damages to 26-year-old Nicholas Murray, who has claimed that the company’s antipsychotic drug Risperdal caused him to develop breasts.

    According to Murray, the drug, which he took as a minor, caused him to develop breasts, a condition called gynecomastia. 

    Murray, along with other male plaintiffs in the case, claims that Johnson & Johnson failed to warn patients of the gynecomastia risk associated with Risperdral. The drug is used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in adults but was prescribed to Murray off-label in 2003 for insomnia, which doctors at the time associated with autism. Thousands of other plaintiffs have filed similar lawsuits against the drug manufacturer.

    A jury in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas ruled in favor of Murray this week.

    “This jury, as have other juries in other litigations, once again imposed punitive damages on a corporation that valued profits over safety and profits over patients. Johnson & Johnson and [subsidiary company] Janssen chose billions over children,” Murray’s lawyers, Tom Kline and Jason Itkin, said in a joint statement obtained by Reuters.

    Murray was awarded $680,000 in 2015 by a US judge, but that award did not include punitive damages, Forbes reported.

    However, Johnson & Johnson has denied the allegations in the case, claiming that the drug label “clearly and appropriately outlined the risks associated with the medicine,” WBTV reported.

    “This award for a single plaintiff stands in stark contrast with the initial $680,000 compensatory award and is a clear violation of due process,” a Johnson & Johnson spokesperson said in a statement following the ruling. “United States Supreme Court precedent dictates that punitive damages awards that are a double-digit multiplier of the compensatory award should be set aside.”

    Johnson & Johnson’s legal troubles are not limited to Risperdral. The company is facing thousands of lawsuits alleging it knowingly used asbestos - an unsafe chemical - in its baby powders. Furthermore, in August, an Oklahoma court found Johnson & Johnson liable in a lawsuit claiming that the drug company helped create the opioid epidemic in the state and ordered it to pay $572 million to help ease the epidemic’s effects.


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