A mother whose autistic son developed breasts after taking a Johnson & Johnson antipsychotic drug would not have known it may be the cause had she not seen a Risperdal lawsuit advertisement on TV that referenced his condition, she testified at trial last week.
The woman told jurors on February 6th that she originally believed her son’s breast development in 2002 was due to weight gain, which he also experienced after being treated with Risperdal. The now 20-year old man’s lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, who distributes the medication, is currently at trial in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, where jurors are hearing arguments made in the first of more than 1,300 lawsuits involving the antipsychotic medication.
Among other memories the plaintiff’s mother shared on the stand, she said “It was very upsetting because I had never told people about his chest because it’s not something that you’re proud of. I didn’t want anyone to see him like that. I see him every day and I think he’s beautiful. I hated that for him, but I saw him through a mother’s eyes.”
The plaintiff in this Risperdal lawsuit began taking the medication in 2002 as a treatment for behavioral problems associated with autism. At the time, gynecomastia was only listed as a known side effect of the medication, but the labeling only indicated that it occurred in less than 1,000 patients. Johnson & Johnson adjusted its labeling in 2006 to note that 2.3 percent of pediatric patients may suffer gynecomastia, and that some pediatric uses of the medication had been approved. Earlier in the trial of this Risperdal lawsuit, a former U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner testified that the drug’s manufacturers knew about risks associated with gynecomastia as far back as 2001 and withheld them from regulators.
This lawsuit was originally filed in 2012 and alleges Johnson & Johnson and Janssen’s alleged failure to warn doctors about risks that may be associated with its use. It is noteworthy to add that just a few months later, the companies agreed to settle six bellwether trials that were scheduled to begin that September. 70 other Risperdal plaintiffs and their families also saw their cases resolved around that time, court documents indicate.