J&J scores win in Levaquin trial

A jury in Minneapolis has decided that Johnson & Johnson isn't responsible for an 84-year-old's ruptured Achilles tendon and properly warned of the risks posed by its antibiotic Levaquin.

The man, Calvin Christensen, accused the drug giant of downplaying the risks of Levaquin, which he took while he was hospitalized for pneumonia back in 2006. He maintained J&J and its Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical unit downplayed the risks of Levaquin to boost its sales. In 2008, the FDA required J&J and makers of other drugs in the fluoroquinolone class to include a black box warning on the risk of tendon ruptures. This risk was deemed higher in patients aged 60 and over, those taking steroids, or who have had certain organ transplants, as Bloomberg notes.

Christensen's lawyer told the jury during closing arguments Friday that the doctor treating his client had been deliberately misled by J&J about possible Levaquin/steroid interactions that could cause tendon rupturing, as the Star Tribune reports. However, the jury apparently disagreed.

"The jury took a good, hard look at all the evidence and correctly concluded that Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. acted responsibly and properly in disclosing the risks associated with this effective and life-saving medicine," James Irwin, a lawyer for the company, said in a statement after the verdict, as quoted by Bloomberg.

Christensen's case is the second of more than 2,500 pending claims accusing the company of failing to disclose the risks of taking the drug. The drug giant lost the first trial when another Minneapolis jury awarded $1.8 million to a man who had ruptured both Achilles tendons.

- see the Bloomberg report
- check out more from the Star Tribune