Janssen Pharmaceuticals has asked a Pennsylvania judge to overturn a $70 million Risperdal verdict awarded to a plaintiff in a gynecomastia lawsuit earlier this month. In a brief filed with the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas on July 11th, the company asserted that the compensatory damage award “defies rational belief and cannot stand.”
Court records indicate that the judgment was the largest awarded thus far in a Risperdal lawsuit involving male breast growth. The plaintiff, who is now 16-years-old, began taking Risperdal in 2003 to treat an unspecified psychiatric disorder. At the time, the antipsychotic drug had only been approved for use in adult patients, and its label characterized gynecomastia as a rare side effect.
According to a report from Law360.com, Janssen claims that the trial judge presiding over the case had allowed the plaintiff to present irrelevant evidence, including expert testimony about alleged off-label promotion of the drug to children. The company further asserts that it was prevented from presenting evidence that would have helped its case. Janssen also maintains that the evidence of pain and mental anguish that the plaintiff suffered due to gynecomastia did not justify the massive jury award.
“This testimony falls far short of the evidence of pain and suffering or mental anguish even in other cases in which vastly smaller award had to be remitted,” the brief said. “Plaintiffs conceded they did not incur any expenses as a result of injuries and did not introduce any evidence of loss of earning capacity as a result of the injuries. Although [the plaintiff] is young, there was no evidence of any impact on his life expectancy and the evidence of impact on his enjoyment of life was at best minimal.”
Court documents indicate that more than 1,700 Risperdal lawsuits are pending in the mass tort program underway in Philadelphia. Since 2015, the Court has tried five gynecomastia claims, four of which ended with significant compensatory damage awards for plaintiffs. No damages were awarded in a fifth case, as the jury was unable to conclude that Risperdal was responsible for the plaintiffs’ breast development. However, as was the case in the other four trials, the jury did find that Janssen’s warnings in regards to gynecomastia were inadequate.