Philadelphia jury orders J&J to pay $8 billion in claim of male breast growth from psychiatric drug

“A Philadelphia jury [October 8] ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $8 billion in damages to a Maryland man who said his use of J&J’s antipsychotic Risperdal as a child caused enlarged breasts and the company failed to properly warn of this risk.” [Peter Loftus, Wall Street Journal] According to the company, the jury in the case had not been allowed to hear evidence of Risperdal’s benefits or the adequacy of its labeling, and the plaintiff’s attorney never introduced evidence that the allegedly improper warning made a difference in whether the client would have been exposed to the side effect. [Brendan Pierson and Nate Raymond, Reuters; Mihir Zaveri and Katie Thomas, New York Times] A recusal motion filed by the company also claims that the judge high-fived jurors after the verdict. [Debra Cassens Weiss, ABA Journal] Update Oct. 31: judge denies high-five allegation.


  • $8 Billion? Can’t this be fixed surgically for, say, $50,000 with another $50,000 in followup care? Let’s even go to $1,000,000 for lifetime pain and suffering for the year of discomfort as everything heals, and even another $1,000,000 for the emotional suffering.

    That’s still about $7,998,000,000 too much money! Why do juries have it out for J&J?

    • Why does the judge in this case have it out for J&J.

    • I understand you bent here and you are entitled to it. But just make sure you are complaining about the right thing. This is not a compensatory award. The jury specifically sought to punish J&J for what they did because they thought they acted with awful intent.

      If it makes you feel better, I have still yet to meet the guy who walks away with 8 billion.

  • Fix health care and damages will go way down. Then fix the tort laws.

    Robert: obviously, the verdict was not to compensate the plaintiff, it was to dissuade the company from bad acts (I am not saying there were bad acts, just want the jury was doing). Most of the money for punitive damages should go to a state (or the feds), not a single plaintiff (and counsel). If that is the case, however, the government entity receiving the funds should not be allowed to participate in the case in any way.

    And let’s be clear: drug companies are the bad guys in the public’s eyes. They are making extraordinary profits while the average person cannot 9or believes he cannot) afford to pay his medical bills, including pharmaceuticals. These companies did it to themselves.

    As an aside, this is one of the reasons companies should engage in altruistic endeavors. The lack of good will is hurting J&J. It is hurting Bayer (owner of Monsanto and roundup). What is good for “the people” is good for the company. It is why Walmart spends money to sponsor local activities and the local supermarket allows scouts to solicit on its property.

    • Bit of a chicken and an egg problem, too – without the huge profits, they can’t afford to pay the bankrupting verdicts coming 10, 15 , 20 years down the road after the drug is first introduced to the public at large.

      Its like tort and health care and all the rest are tied up into one big Gordian knot – and while I’m not advocating for another PPACA boondoggle (which in some ways was “easier) of unintended consequences and further distortions…

      …I wonder whether Congress shouldn’t set up a “third way”? Modeled after the Vaccine courts, such that pharmaceutical companies who want to avoid those downstream risks (at expense of current profits) could sell at some nationally established price based on an actuarial calculation and a given profit margin in exchange for protection from liability in the form of a vaccine like court. Wrap up the patent in the transaction, so at the end of the patent period (or upon BK of the company for other reasons), it reverts to the Gov’t to then license under a similar scheme.

      Then give it a decade or so to start to fill the pipeline, start making tweaks based on evidence of its use/non-use.

  • If you award 8 billion for inconvenient boobs (assuming J&J actually caused them), you will eventually have witch doctors rubbing roots on you and chanting again. There will be no modern medicine.

    • Alternatively, all private companies could withdraw from the US pharmaceutical market, leaving the US government as the sole provider of pharmaceuticals. At that point, Congress could tweak “sovereign immunity” to decide how much and under what circumstances the taxpayer should pay out in malpractice suits.

  • Hardly a new thing, known certainly at the time this plaintiff would likely have started his meds. Drugs have side effects. Some merely nuisance, some can kill you. Take a drug with the risk versus benefits in mind.
    If the patient (or deciding guardian) had decided differently, not taken the med, all different outcomes could have occurred as a result; continued psychosis is not really all that healthy of a lifestyle, and just might be worse than breasts. But then had they taken that path, who would they sue for remaining psychotic…

    Mabini R, Wergowske G, Baker FM. Galactorrhea and gynecomastia in a hypothyroid male being treated with risperidone. Psychiatr Serv. 2000; 51: 983–985.