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American India Foundation expands reach

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Washington: The American India Foundation, dedicated to catalysing social and economic change in India, launched its eleventh chapter in the historic city of Philadelphia. The foundation is one of the largest development organisations in the US dedicated to helping poor and marginalised people in India.

AIF was founded by the initiative of former President Bill Clinton after the 2001 Gujarat Earthquake following a suggestion from then Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Nearly a hundred people from the Greater Philadelphia region attended the event held at the downtown Loews Philadelphia Hotel Oct 2, according to the American Bazaar.

In the keynote address Al Jazeera America host Ali Velshi, whose great grandparents moved to Africa from Gujarat a century ago, recalled the struggles his forefathers had to endure in their adopted land.

He praised the work AIF is doing to provide opportunities the less privileged in the Indian society.

Chief guest Raj Gupta, chairman of the board of directors of Delphi Automotive, stressed the importance of philanthropic work organizations such as AIF is doing in the US and India.

“A dollar and 25 cents can make a difference,” he said, urging everyone to share their wealth.

AIF CEO MA Ravi Kumar spoke about the mission of the organization.

Other speakers included the chapter founding members Sanjay Gupta and Kavita Gupta, AIF Senior Director of Philanthropy and Development Venky Raghavendra, and Deepak Jolly, a vice president at Coca-Cola India.

Philadelphia being the city of firsts and with the huge potential that it holds, it is important to have a strong presence and chapter here,” Sanjay Gupta told the American Bazaar.

Greater Philadelphia region, comprising of City of Philadelphia, South Jersey and Delaware, is home to leading universities, businesses and a population that has strong ties to India. AIF hopes to tap these resources.

The ten other cities and regions AIF has chapters are Atlanta, the San Francisco Bay Area, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New England, New York Tristate Area, Orange County, Richmond VA and Washington DC.

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Philadelphia Jury Awards $8 Billion in Punitive Damages against Johnson & Johnson

Johnson and Johnson immediately denounced the award after the jury's decision in the Court of Common pleas, saying it's "excessive and unfounded"

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Philadelphia, Jury, Damages
FILE - The Johnson & Johnson logo is displayed on a screen on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, May 29, 2019. VOA

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.

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.

Philadelphia, Jury, Damages
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. Pixabay

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.

Johnson & Johnson said in a statement on its website it was confident that the award would be overturned, calling it “grossly disproportionate” with the initial compensatory damage award and “a clear violation of due process.”

Johnson & Johnson said the court’s exclusion of key evidence left it unable to present a meaningful defense, including what they said was a drug label that “clearly and appropriately outlined the risks associated with the medicine” or Risperdal’s benefits for patients with serious mental illness. They also said the plaintiff’s attorneys failed to present any evidence of actual harm.

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“This decision is inconsistent with multiple determinations outside of Philadelphia regarding the adequacy of the Risperdal labeling, the medicine’s efficacy, and findings in support of the company,” Johnson & Johnson said. “We will be immediately moving to set aside this excessive and unfounded verdict.” (VOA)