Six months after two trials resulting in multi-million dollar verdicts against Johnson & Johnson – including $112 million in punitive damages – for claims linking ovarian cancer to the genital use of its talcum powder products, the consumer health care giant was slapped with another multimillion verdict, this time by a Philadelphia jury that found the company’s antipsychotic drug Risperdal caused a young boy to grow female breasts.
In all three cases, plaintiffs accused Johnson & Johnson of knowing the risks associated with its products but failed to warn the public, another classic example of Big Pharma putting profits before patients.
In January, a St. Louis jury sent a loud message to Johnson & Johnson when it ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $72 million to the family of Jacqueline Fox, who died at age 62 from ovarian cancer just before her lawsuit went to trial. Fox alleged that Johnson & Johnson had promoted its talc-containing products, such as Shower to Shower and Johnson’s Baby Power, as safe, but research showed that the company was aware decades ago that regular use of talc-containing products on the genitals could cause ovarian cancer. The verdict included $10 million in actual damages and $62 million in punitive damages.
Then, in May, another St. Louis jury awarded Plaintiff Gloria Ristesund $55 million after agreeing the talcum powder products contributed to the development of her ovarian cancer. The verdict includes $5 million in actual damages and $50 million in punitive damages. Ms. Ristesund, 62, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2011, after using Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower for feminine hygiene for more than 40 years.
Last week, Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals were hit with another multimillion verdict when a Philadelphia jury ordered the company to pay $70 million in damages to Andrew Yount, a young man who began taking Risperdal in 2003 at the age of 5 to manage symptoms of psychosis. A year later, medical records show he had gained weight and developed female breasts, a condition known as gynecomastia. The condition is both physically and emotionally painful, causing breasts to become tender and lactate. Surgery often requires liposuction or mastectomy.
Yount’s lawsuit claimed that Johnson & Johnson warning label for Risperdal indicated that gynecomastia was a rare side effect that occurred in less than one in 1,000 patients. However, Yount’s attorneys argued that the drug company knew that Risperdal side effects included an increase in prolactin, the hormone that can trigger gynecomastia. Yet, Johnson & Johnson failed to warn the public.
Now, Johnson & Johnson has to answer by shelling out tens of millions of dollars to compensate these victims.