A California man treated with Risperdal has filed a lawsuit in federal court that blames the antipsychotic drug for a double mastectomy he was forced to undergo due to the development of gynecomastia. The complaint, which is now pending in U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, seeks compensation for the Plaintiff’s pain, physical injuries and psychological distress.
According to the June 12th filing, the Plaintiff had been prescribed Risperdal at various times since the age of 20. While using the drug, he developed gynecomastia (abnormally large breasts) and other problems that the lawsuit alleges were associated with his use of the medication. In 2011, the then 24-year-old was forced to undergo a double mastectomy to surgically remove excess breast tissue.
Among other things, the Risperdal complaint alleges that Johnson & Johnson and its Janssen Pharmaceuticals unit were aware that the medication can cause a host of serious side effects, including gynecomastia in men and boys, as well as hyperprolactinemia, the presence of abnormally high levels of prolactin. Prolactin is a hormone that stimulates breast development and milk production in women.
“Defendants failed to adequately warn doctors and consumers about these risks, misrepresented the degree of risk, dismissed the severity of Risperdal-caused hyperprolactinemia and gynecomastia and even claimed that breast development in boys taking Risperdal is normal,” the lawsuit states.
Finally, the Risperdal lawsuit also claims the companies engaged in an aggressive, illegal marketing campaign to promote the unapproved use of the drug, which included paying kickbacks to doctors and pharmacists, producing sham studies, and seeding the medical literature with ghostwritten articles promoting off-label uses.
The case filed in California is just one of hundreds of Risperdal gynecomastia claims now pending in courts around the country. Some 500 of these complaints are currently being litigated in a mass tort proceeding underway in Pennsylvania’s Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. Court documents indicate that Johnson& Johnson and Janssen have settled about 80 cases, but trials of several other lawsuits are scheduled to begin this July.