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N.J. Risperdal Jury Finds Diabetes Warning Lacking, But Drug Didn't Cause Disease

NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. - (Mealey's) A Risperdal personal injury trial ended Feb. 16 in a defense verdict for Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. after a New Jersey state court jury found that Janssen failed to warn about the risk of diabetes but that the atypical antipsychotic drug was not a substantial contributing factor in plaintiff Gary D. Skala's development of the disease (Gary D. Skala v. Johnson & Johnson, et al., No. MID-L-6820-06, N.J. Super., Middlesex Co.). 

(Jury verdict sheet. Document #28-120301-001V.)


On a 5-1 vote, the New Brunswick County Superior Court jury found that Janssen failed to provide an adequate warning to Skala's prescribing physician concerning a risk of diabetes from Risperdal that the defendant knew or should have known. 

But on the second question, on another 5-1 vote, the jury found that Risperdal was not a substantial contributing factor in causing Skala's diabetes. 

The jury did not have to answer the third question about compensation for Skala's pain, suffering, disability, impairment, inconvenience and loss of enjoyment of life as a result of diabetes. 

In 2006, Skala sued Janssen and Johnson & Johnson in New Jersey state court.  His case is part of New Jersey's Risperdal/Seroquel/Zyprexa mass tort docket.  

All three drugs are atypical antipsychotics, and all three have been linked to severe weight gain, hyperglycemia and diabetes. 

Janssen and Johnson & Johnson argued that Risperdal was not the cause of Skala's diabetes. 

The trial began Feb. 16.  Judge Jessica R. Mayer presided. 

Other trials have taken place in which states or third-party payers allege that the company's failure to warn about the diabetes risk and off-label promotion of the drug caused them to pay for treatment of diabetes or for unapproved uses of the drug. 

Earlier this month, Janssen paid the State of Texas $158 million to settle a state court Risperdal trial that was under way.  Last year, a South Carolina state court found that Janssen violated state business practice laws and a judge assessed a $327 million penalty. 

In 2010, Janssen got a nonsuit in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's state court trial involving Risperdal. 

Eli Lilly and Co., which makes Zyprexa, has settled most of its personal injury lawsuits, and AstraZeneca, which makes Seroquel, has agreed to settle many of its personal injury cases. 

Skala is represented by Fletch Trammel of Bailey Perrin Bailey in Houston and by Epstein Arlen in Somerset, N.J. 

Janssen and Johnson & Johnson are represented by Jeffrey Peck of Drinker, Biddle & Reath in Florham Park, N.J. 

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