The Pennsylvania litigation housing more than 1,500 Risperdal lawsuits continues to try cases over the drug’s alleged association with gynecomastia, a condition marked by excessive male breast growth. Court documents indicate that two Risperdal gynecomastia trials are currently underway in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, the third and fourth to go before juries this year.
The first of the two trials was convened on October 15th, and involves a plaintiff who was treated with Risperdal as a child to control symptoms of Tourette’s syndrome. He was initially prescribed the powerful antipsychotic drug in 2006 and continued taking it until 2009. When the plaintiff first started using Risperdal, the medication had yet to be approved for any pediatric indications. It has never been cleared to treat Tourette’s.
Another trial began in Pennsylvania on October 26th, and centers on a lawsuit that was filed on behalf of an autistic man who was prescribed Risperdal in March 2003, when he was just nine years old. The medication would not be approved to treat autistic children until October 2006.
Both plaintiffs claim that Risperdal caused their bodies to produce elevated levels of a hormone called prolactin, which resulted in excessive breast growth. They further allege that Johnson & Johnson and Janssen Pharmaceuticals concealed this risk from doctors, patients and regulators, and failed to provide proper warning regarding the true incidence of gynecomastia in boys taking Risperdal. Finally, plaintiffs contend that the companies aggressively and improperly marketed Risperdal for use in children long before the medication was approved for any type of pediatric indication.
All of the Risperdal gynecomastia claims currently pending in the Pennsylvania mass tort contain similar allegations about the drug’s affects on prolactin, as well as Johnson & Johnson and Janssen’s handling of the medication. As bellwether trials, the outcome of these two cases could provide valuable insight into how juries might decide similar Risperdal lawsuits.
Earlier this year, Pennsylvania juries heard arguments in two other Risperdal trials involving male breast growth. The first concluded in February, after the plaintiff was awarded $2.5 million. A second trial that ended a month later resulted in no award for the plaintiff, as the jury was unable to determine that Risperdal was the cause of his breast development. However, jurors did conclude that Johnson & Johnson and Janssen’s gynecomastia warnings were inadequate.