Judge lets Gorsky off the hook in Risperdal case

Johnson & Johnson ($JNJ) CEO Alex Gorsky has again dodged a bullet and will not be forced to testify in front of a jury in the somewhat sensational Risperdal case in which a teenage boy allegedly grew breasts after taking the antipsychotic drug.

Gorsky has already given a deposition in the case. The judge overseeing it waited to the end to make his decision, since the trial is set to begin Monday.

J&J lawyers argued that Gorsky was too far up the food chain to have firsthand knowledge of the events. But the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that defense attorneys have a memo in which he approved a $500,000 payment to a doctor in 2002 to begin a program at Massachusetts General Hospital with the aim of upping the use of Risperdal for children even though it was approved for adults only at the time.

In an earlier case brought by the same plaintiff's lawyers, and alleging a similar side effect of the drug, J&J settled just before the case went to trial. The settlement also came before the judge decided whether the CEO would have to face a jury and explain why the company was pushing the drug on children when it wasn't approved for that use. Still, with hundreds of individual suits still out to be tried or settled, there may be many more shots at Gorsky.

- read the Philadelphia Inquirer story

Related Articles:
Lawyers seek to force J&J chief onto the stand in Risperdal case
J&J faces new marketing probes as Risperdal settlement nears
Justice, J&J duel over Gorsky's contribution to kickback case
J&J's $1.2B Risperdal fine 'ups the ante' for other cases
Feds reportedly demand $1.8B in Risperdal marketing probe