Posted: July 22, 2016
Early this month, a Tennessee teenager won a $70 million verdict against drug maker Johnson & Johnson (J&J) in his Risperdal male breast growth lawsuit. On July 1, a Philadelphia jury returned the sizable award, finding that J&J failed to warn the plaintiff or his family that the drug Risperdal could cause gynecomastia.
According to the lawsuit, the young man suffered emotional distress after he developed female-sized breasts. This is the fifth Risperdal gynecomastia verdict awarded in favor of victims and against J&J in the Philadelphia court. Most recently, an Alabama man won a $2.5 million verdict against J&J after he developed size 46DD breasts.
Risperdal allegedly did not warn of male breast growth
J&J’s Risperdal (risperdone) has been prescribed as an antipsychotic medication for more than 20 years. In 2006, the FDA approved Risperdal to treat behavioral symptoms seen in autistic children; it has also been used to treat bipolar disorder and schizophrenia in adults and children.
Risperdal use has a number of recognized risks. In 2005, the FDA directed the makers to include a black box warning to caution patients with dementia or related conditions that the medication could lead to pneumonia, heart failure, or even unexpected death if given to patients with dementia. The drug can also lead to tardive dyskinesia (a disorder involving involuntary movements of the mouth, face, and extremities), high blood sugar, low white blood cell count, and extreme nervous system effects.
One of the most devastating side effects of Risperdal is breast growth due to excessive levels of prolactin. In females, this may not be distressing. But in males, gynecomastia may cause severe emotional distress and can even require surgery to remove the breasts. A former representative of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration has even testified that the medication “probably or very likely” caused breast development in nearly 4% of the boys who took it.
J&J faces widespread litigation over breast growth
More than 1700 plaintiffs have Risperdal gynecomastia lawsuits pending against J&J in the Philadelphia courts. The cases have been consolidated in multidistrict litigation (MDL); in MDL, individual plaintiffs from across the country file their own individual lawsuits but they are consolidated in one court that manages the pretrial proceedings. This means that all of the parties across the lawsuits have access to the same evidence produced through discovery and they are bound by the same pretrial rulings. It also makes a widespread settlement easier to facilitate.
J&J has already faced several Risperdal trials, with mixed results. For example, it was ordered to pay $2.5 million to the plaintiff in the initial bellwether trial, was found negligent in failing to warn of gynecomastia in its second trial, and settled the third bellwether trial before it even presented its opening argument. J&J has reportedly been in settlement talks with other plaintiffs.
Speak with a Risperdal lawyer
Eisbrouch Marsh offers thoughtful and dedicated legal counsel for victims of defective drugs in New Jersey, New York and throughout the nation. If you or a loved one have experienced abnormal breast growth after treatment with Risperdal, call 201-342-5545 to schedule a free case review with a product liability lawyer to discuss your options.
- Bloomberg, J&J Hit With $70 Million Risperdal Verdict Over Male Breasts, http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-07-01/j-j-faces-record-70-million-verdict-over-male-breasts
- Drugs.com, Risperdal, http://www.drugs.com/risperdal.html
- Philadelphia Courts, Risperdal Litigation, http://www.courts.phila.gov/apps/clc/caselist.asp?search=Risperdal