Jury says J&J's Risperdal didn't cause plaintiff's diabetes

A New Jersey jury has let Johnson & Johnson's ($JNJ) Risperdal off the hook for a patient's diabetes. But the panel determined that the company didn't do enough to warn the man's doctor that diabetes risk could accompany Risperdal use, Bloomberg reports. No damages were awarded.

Nebraska patient Gary Skala had alleged that using Risperdal triggered his Type 2 diabetes. But J&J lawyers argued that his lifestyle caused his diabetes, not the drug. Skala was overweight and drank heavily, J&J attorney Jeffrey Peck told the jury, and his anxiety, stress and family history all contributed to his developing diabetes.

Skala's lawyer had argued that Risperdal was a "substantial contributing factor" for his developing diabetes because it helped to trigger his weight gain. The jury didn't accept that argument, voting 5-1 against Skala's claim that Risperdal caused his illness.

However, the jury was more convinced by the contention that J&J inadequately warned Skala's doctor about Risperdal's risks. "Risperdal can be a good drug," attorney Fletch Trammell argued, "but they still have to warn you about the safety risk."

This trial is just the latest to address Risperdal's safety risks and J&J's marketing of the drug. The company recently agreed to pay $158 million to settle a whistleblower case in Texas, and it's said to be close to a $1 billion-plus settlement with the Justice Department and several U.S. states to wrap up investigations of its Risperdal promotions.

- read the Bloomberg coverage