The products liability litigation involving Risperdal shows no signs of slowing down. In a recent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Johnson & Johnson acknowledged that the litigation continues to grow, with at least 18,500 Risperdal lawsuits now pending in courts throughout the U.S.
These latest figures indicate that more than 5,000 new Risperdal claims have been filed since November 2016, when Johnson & Johnson reported that just 13,400 cases were pending.
Risperdal is an atypical antipsychotic manufactured by Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals subsidiary. The medication is currently approved to treat adult and adolescent schizophrenia, bipolar disorder in adults and children ages 10-to-17, and irritability in children (5-to-16 years of age) with autistic disorder.
According to Johnson & Johnson, cases involving Risperdal side effects are primarily pending in state courts in Pennsylvania, California, and Missouri. Claims have also been filed in Canada.
“The number of pending product liability lawsuits continues to increase, and the Company continues to receive information with respect to potential costs and the anticipated number of cases,” the SEC filing states. “The Company has established an accrual with respect to product liability litigation associated with RISPERDAL. Changes to this accrual may be required in the future as additional information becomes available.”
Many of the currently pending Risperdal lawsuits were filed on behalf of men and boys who allegedly developed gynecomastia (excessive breast growth) due to their use of the medication. According to these plaintiffs, Risperdal can cause the pituitary gland to produce excess amounts of prolactin, a hormone that plays a role in female breast development and lactation. In males, high levels of prolactin can stimulate the development of female-like breasts. Risperdal lawsuits involving gynecomastia charge that Johnson & Johnson and Janssen downplayed the risk posed by the drug, and failed to provide patients and doctors with appropriate side effects information.
The nationwide Risperdal litigation involves more than 2,000 cases that have been centralized in a mass tort program now underway in Pennsylvania’s Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. Over the past two years, the program has convened a series of gynecomastia trials. The majority of those cases have concluded with verdicts in favor of plaintiffs, with damage awards ranging from $500,000 to $70 million.
Confidential settlements have also been reported in a number of individual Risperdal lawsuits. However, the parties have not yet entered into any negotiations to reach a global settlement that would resolve the entire litigation.