Johnson & Johnson last fall suffered a major legal defeat in its defense of antipsychotic Risperdal, but that loss was short-lived. After a jury ordered J&J to pay a plaintiff a staggering $8 billion, the trial judge has dramatically cut the verdict.
The $8 billion punitive damages award was reduced to $6.8 million in the case of Nicholas Murray, according to court documents. Murray sued J&J in 2013 alleging his off-label use of Risperdal caused him to develop breasts, and a jury sided with the plaintiff in October.
After the initial verdict, J&J said the punitive damages award was “grossly disproportionate” to the jury's compensatory damages award of $680,000 and a “clear violation of due process.”
Even with the reduction, though, J&J is moving forward with an appeal, Janssen spokesperson Andrew Wheatley said in a statement.
“The company was precluded from presenting a meaningful defense due to the court’s exclusion of key evidence,” he said. "As a result, vital evidence as to how the label for Risperdal clearly and appropriately outlined the benefits and risks associated with the medicine was not presented to the jury for their consideration as they deliberated on the case.”
Risperdal was approved in 1993 to treat schizophrenia and bipolar mania in adults, but Murray alleged the drugmaker marketed its drug for unapproved uses and didn't adequately warn about its risks. All together, J&J faces about 13,600 lawsuits claiming harm from the drug.
Risperdal is only one legal complication for the drugmaker that’s found itself in legal headlines routinely in recent months. Its talc litigation continues to play out, and the company is working to put opioid litigation in its past through a multibillion-dollar settlement offer, among other issues.