Nation and World briefs for October 9

Johnson & Johnson, Risperdal maker hit with $8B verdict

PHILADELPHIA — A Philadelphia jury on Tuesday awarded $8 billion in punitive damages against Johnson & Johnson and one if its subsidiaries over a drug the companies made that the plaintiff’s attorneys say is linked to the abnormal growth of female breast tissue in boys.

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Johnson and Johnson immediately denounced the award after the jury’s decision in the Court of Common pleas, saying it’s “excessive and unfounded” and vowing immediate action to overturn it.

The antipsychotic drug Risperdal is at the center of the lawsuit, with the plaintiff’s attorneys arguing it’s linked to abnormal growth of female breast tissue in boys, an incurable condition known as gynecomastia.

Johnson & Johnson used an organized scheme to make billions of dollars while illegally marketing and promoting the drug, attorneys Tom Kline and Jason Itkin said in a statement.

Kline and Itkin said that Johnson & Johnson was “a corporation that valued profits over safety and profits over patients.” Thousands of lawsuits have been filed over the drug, but the attorneys said this was the first in which a jury decided whether to award punitive damages and came up with an amount.

Hong Kong’s undercover medics reveal hidden toll of protests

HONG KONG — As riot police fought anti-government demonstrators on the streets of Hong Kong over the weekend, two photos popped into the encrypted inbox of a group of volunteer medics who call themselves the “Hidden Clinic.”

The images showed the nastily swollen left arm of a 22-year-old protester who had been beaten and were accompanied by a message from the sender that said, “I suspect his bone is broken.”

After exchanges through the night via the Telegram messaging app that arranged an off-the-books X-ray, the protester was diagnosed with a displaced fracture of the ulnar bone.

With Hong Kong’s summer of protests now stretching into the fall and clashes becoming increasingly ferocious, medical professionals have quietly banded together to form the Hidden Clinic and other networks to secretly treat the injuries of many young demonstrators who fear arrest if they go to government hospitals.

The person who messaged the network on the injured protester’s behalf later explained the youth’s wariness by saying, “Many of his friends have been detained when seeing doctors.”

The Hidden Clinic says it has clandestinely treated 300-400 protesters with an array of injuries: broken and dislocated bones, gaping wounds and exposure to tear gas so prolonged that they were coughing up blood. It also says the severity of the injuries has increased sharply in the past week, with hard-core protesters and police increasingly tough on each other.

Recuperating Sanders says he might slow down campaigning pace

BURLINGTON, Vt. — Bernie Sanders began reintroducing himself to the 2020 campaign on Tuesday, venturing outside his Vermont home to say that he doesn’t plan on leaving the presidential race following last week’s heart attack — but that he may slow down a frenetic pace that might have contributed to his health problems.

“We were doing, in some cases, five or six meetings a day, three or four rallies and town meetings and meeting with groups of people. I don’t think I’m going to do that,” Sanders told reporters when asked what his schedule may look like going forward. “But I certainly intend to be actively campaigning. I think we’re going to change the nature of the campaign a bit. I’ll make sure that I have the strength to do what I have to do.”

Pressed on what that meant, Sanders replied: “Well, probably not doing four rallies a day.”

Sanders’ campaign has said he will be at next week’s Democratic presidential debate in Ohio. But it hasn’t commented on if or when he’ll resume campaigning before that — or what his next steps will be. NBC News announced it would air an “exclusive” interview with Sanders, his first since the heart attack, on Wednesday.

His health problems come at a precarious time, since Sanders was already facing questions about being the oldest candidate seeking the White House, and he has seen his recent poll numbers decline compared to 2020 rival Elizabeth Warren, his chief competitor for the Democratic Party’s most-progressive wing.

Are we alone? Nobel Prize goes to 3 who tackled cosmic query

WASHINGTON — They are two of the most fundamental questions not just of science, but of humanity: How did we get here? And are we alone?

A Canadian-American cosmologist and two Swiss scientists split this year’s Nobel Prize in Physics on Tuesday for not quite answering those universal questions, but getting closer to the cosmic truths.

Canadian-born James Peebles, 84, an emeritus professor at Princeton University, won for his theoretical discoveries in cosmology, about what happened soon after the Big Bang that eventually led to the formation of galaxies and the universe as we know it.

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Swiss star-gazers Michel Mayor, 77, and Didier Queloz, 53, both of the University of Geneva, were honored for finding an exoplanet — a planet outside our solar system — that orbits a sun-like star.

A day of deep astrophysics and talk of extraterrestrial life also included pop humor, with the Nobel Prize committee quoting from the theme song of the American TV sitcom, “The Big Bang Theory,” whose protagonists, Sheldon and Amy, won a physics Nobel in the series finale, and a giggling Peebles referring to singer Bob Dylan.

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