A federal judge in Missouri has dismissed 53 Risperdal lawsuits filed by out-of-states plaintiffs, after determining that the state was not an appropriate venue for the cases.
According to Reuters, the order dismissing the claims was handed down on August 9th by U.S. District Court Judge Stephen Limbaugh of the Eastern District of Missouri, who cited the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Superior Court of California. That 8-1 ruling limited venues to jurisdictions where defendants are headquartered or where a plaintiffs’ injuries are alleged to have occurred.
The 53 Risperdal lawsuits subject to dismissal were initially filed in the Missouri’s 22nd Circuit Court of Missouri. However, Judge Limbaugh wrote that the Supreme Court’s June 19th decision in the Bristol-Myer’s case led him to conclude that neither he nor the state court had jurisdiction over the claims.
If they want to continue to pursue their Risperdal lawsuits, the affected plaintiffs will have to refile their cases in a court that complies with the jurisdictional limits set by the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling.
Risperdal is an atypical antipsychotic 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. It is also frequently prescribed off-label to treat children with ADHD.
According to a recent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Johnson & Johnson has been named a defendant in at least 13,800 Risperdal lawsuits nationwide. In addition to Missouri, claims are also pending in Pennsylvania and California state courts.
Many of the currently pending lawsuits were filed on behalf of men and boys who allegedly developed gynecomastia (excessive breast growth) due to the propensity of Risperdal to overstimulate the production of prolactin by the pituitary gland. Prolactin is associated with female breast development and lactation in women; however, excessive levels of this hormone can also cause unusual breast growth in males.
Up until October 2006, the Risperdal label characterized gynecomastia as a rare side effect that appeared in less than 1 in 1,000 patients. The prescribing information was updated that month to note that 2.3% of male adolescents treated with Risperdal had developed the condition. However, Risperdal plaintiffs contend that Johnson & Johnson and Janssen were aware of this information long before the label was modified. They also claim that the defendants improperly marketed Risperdal for use in children prior to October 2006, which is also the same month the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) first cleared the drug for pediatric indications.
One of the largest Risperdal litigations in the country is currently underway in Pennsylvania’s Philadelphia Court of Common pleas, where seven gynecomastia trials have already concluded. Four of these cases resulted in plaintiffs’ verdicts and damage awards ranging from $500,000 to $70 million. Two Risperdal lawsuits were dismissed midtrial, while a one ended with a partial verdict for the defense. Several other cases have settled just before trials were to begin.
Court documents indicate that as many as 10 Risperdal gynecomastia claims could go to trial in Pennsylvania through the first half of 2018.