Johnson & Johnson has faced numerous negative headlines on its talc and opioid litigation in recent months, but at the same time, lawsuits over its antipsychotic Risperdal present another set of challenges. And lately, they're not going the company's way.
Despite J&J's efforts to get a 2016 Risperdal verdict against the drugmaker—worth $70 million in actual damages—tossed out, a Pennsylvania appeals court upheld the decision in a new opinion (PDF).
The court also sent the case back to a lower court to consider punitive damages, meaning the company could face more damages from the case.
The case stems back to a 2013 lawsuit from Andrew Yount and his mother alleging J&J’s Risperdal caused him to develop breasts, a condition called gynecomastia.
The appeals court said it found no “reversible error” in the original award. The plaintiff was four-and-a-half years old when he was originally prescribed the med, “and he has never since known life without gynecomastia.”
The development follows some other recent setbacks for J&J with Risperdal. Last week, Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court revived two cases based on errors by a lower court to dismiss the lawsuits on statute of limitation grounds. The decision will affect thousands of other similar cases, Law.com reported. Before that, a jury hit the drugmaker with an $8 billion Risperdal verdict, but the company said it’s confident the verdict will be overturned in appeals.
In all, J&J faces about 13,600 Risperdal lawsuits, according to a recent Securities and Exchange Commission filing.
Aside from Risperdal, the healthcare giant faces about 16,800 talc cases and recently offered $4 billion to settle thousands of opioid lawsuits from states, cities and counties around the U.S. It remains to be seen whether the company’s opioid settlement will resolve that litigation.
In a new twist Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal reported that federal prosecutors started a criminal probe of the company and others in the national opioid crisis.