Judge lowers J&J Risperdal settlement by $1.2 billion

A Philadelphia judge shaved $1.2 billion off the amount Johnson & Johnson has to pay in a lawsuit over the marking of its antipsychotic drug, Risperdal, The New York Times reported. 

In October, a jury ordered J&J to pay $8 billion in punitive damages in a case accusing the drugmaker of downplaying the risk that Risperdal can cause breast growth in men. 

On Jan. 17, a judge lowered that payment to $6.8 billion. Large jury verdicts are frequently reduced after trial, the Times reported. 

The case began in 2013, when plaintiff Nicholas Murray sued Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of J&J, after he grew breasts while taking Risperdal to treat his autism symptoms. Mr. Murray began taking the drug as a child. The lawsuit said Janssen downplayed the risks associated with Risperdal and improperly marketed it as a treatment for certain mental health disorders in children. 

A spokesperson for Janssen told the Times that despite the lowered payment, it still plans to appeal the verdict, because Janssen "was precluded from presenting a meaningful defense due to the court's exclusion of key evidence."

Thomas Kline, a lawyer representing Mr. Murray and the more than 10,000 other people with similar lawsuits involving Risperdal, told the Times that the lowered payment "provides essentially no punishment for the worst of the worst of corporate misconduct."

This is the second time since November that J&J has had a verdict in a high-profile case reduced.  An Oklahoma judge said he made a mathematical error when calculating how much the drugmaker should have to pay for its role in the state's opioid crisis and lowered the verdict by $107 million. 

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