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Amid a push to resolve opioid and talc claims, Johnson & Johnson settles Risperdal litigation for $800M

Over the last few months, Johnson & Johnson has made sweeping moves to resolve a mountain of litigation involving the safety and marketing of its opioid and talc products. Friday brought word of a lower-profile resolution, as J&J revealed it has settled liability claims surrounding its antipsychotic drug Risperdal.

The $800 million settlement was struck in September and resolves “substantially all of the outstanding cases in the United States,” the company revealed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. The agreement resolves approximately 9,000 cases the company faced from those who claimed Risperdal caused breast tissue development in males, a condition called gynecomastia.

Risperdal was approved in 1993 for schizophrenia and bipolar mania in adults. In 2006, it was sanctioned to treat irritability in children associated with autism.

In 2019, a Philadelphia jury awarded a whopping $8 billion in punitive damages to Nicholas Murray, a Maryland man who developed breasts because of his use of Risperdal. Three months later, a judge trimmed the award to $6.8 million. Murray, who took Risperdal for autism spectrum disorder, claimed in 2013 that J&J aggressively marketed the drug and didn’t warn of its risks.

That same year, J&J agreed to pay $2.2 billion to settle a federal probe into its off-label marketing of Risperdal and two other drugs.

The settlement comes amid a flurry of legal maneuverings by J&J. In July, the company—along with distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health and McKesson—agreed to pay $26 billion to resolve thousands of opioid lawsuits in the U.S.

That deal has yet to be finalized, and J&J has continued to pursue settlements with individual states. Last week, the company agreed to a $297 million settlement with Texas, the amount of which will be deducted from what J&J owes in the national settlement.

Two weeks ago, J&J filed for bankruptcy protection for its newly created subsidiary, LTL Management, which was established to manage lawsuits representing more than 30,000 women who claim J&J’s talc products cause cancer.

Lawyers representing the plaintiffs have said they will oppose the ploy, known as the Texas two-step, which has been used in the past to minimize losses from asbestos claims.