A young man who was prescribed Risperdal as a child has been awarded $500,000 by a Pennsylvania jury, after the panel determined the drug’s manufacturers hadn’t properly warned patients and doctors about its potential to cause gynecomastia. The case was the third loss for Johnson & Johnson and its Janssen Pharmaceuticals division in the Risperdal mass tort litigation currently underway in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.
According to the Legal Intelligencer, the jury deliberated for just six hours before returning its verdict on December 11th. The 12-member panel issued unanimous decisions on the plaintiff’s failure to warn and damage claims. Ten jurors found for the plaintiff on causation.
Following the verdict, the plaintiff’s attorney hailed the trial’s outcome as “another win in a string of plaintiffs’ verdicts.”
“Yet one more in a line of cases, which prove the point that Janssen negligently failed to warn,” he told the Legal Intelligencer.
According to court documents, the plaintiff at the center of this case was prescribed Risperdal off-label in 2006 to treat symptoms associated with Tourette’s syndrome. Then 11-years-old, he continued using the antipsychotic drug for three years. But after a year of treatment, the plaintiff had already developed female –like breasts, which he had surgically removed at the age of 18.
The mass tort litigation in Pennsylvania currently houses just over 1,640 Risperdal lawsuits. This was the proceeding’s fourth trial involving gynecomastia, a condition marked by the excessive growth of breast tissue in men. Plaintiffs claim that Risperdal causes the body to produce excessive levels of prolactin, a hormone that is tied to female breast development and lactation.
So far, Pennsylvania juries hearing Risperdal claims have ruled in favor of gynecomastia plaintiffs three times. Two other trials held earlier this year ended with judgments of $2.5 million and $1.75 million. But even the sole verdict for the defense proved to be a mixed victory, as the jury found for the plaintiff on his failure-to-warn claims. However, since Johnson & Johnson and Janssen prevailed on causation, the plaintiff was denied financial damages.
Despite its poor showing at trial, Johnson & Johnson and Janssen continue to stand by their medication.
“Risperdal (risperidone) has helped and is still helping millions of patients with debilitating mental illnesses and neurodevelopmental conditions as part of a comprehensive treatment plan,” a Janssen spokesperson said in an email statement issued last week.