Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson has been ordered to pay $8 billion in punitive damages to a Pennsylvania man who allegedly grew breasts after taking one of the company's drugs, CBS News reports.
A Philadelphia jury determined that Johnson & Johnson did not warn 26-year-old Nicholas Murray about the side effects of Risperdal, an antipsychotic drug that treats schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Murray had purportedly been taking the drug since he was a child.
In making his case against the company, Murray said he was prescribed Risperdal at the age of 9 to treat symptoms related to autism spectrum disorder, even though the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had approved it in the 1990s to specifically address schizophrenia and instances of bipolar mania in adults.
Murray's lawyers accused Johnson & Johnson of marketing the drug as something suitable for children in order to maximize the company's profits, claiming that it chose "billions over children." The FDA did not approve the drug for children with irritabilities associated with autism until 2006, when Murray was about 13 years old.
Upon taking Risperdal, the 26-year-old reportedly grew breasts as a result of gynecomastia, a condition in which male hormone levels drop and the male breast tissue swells. He sued the company in 2013, according to the New York Times.
In response to the verdict, Johnson & Johnson, which brought in nearly $82 billion in revenue last year, told the Times that it would be "immediately moving to set aside this excessive and unfounded verdict."
"The jury did not hear evidence as to how the label for Risperdal clearly and appropriately outlined the risks associated with the medicine, or the benefits Risperdal provides to patients with serious mental illness," the company said in a statement. "Further, the plaintiff’s attorneys failed to present any evidence that the plaintiff was actually harmed by the alleged conduct."
Murray is one of more than 10,000 people who have filed similar lawsuits over the drug.