On February 24, 2015 after a month-long trial, a jury in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania decided a case against Johnson & Johnson, who will now have to pay $2.5 million in damages because they failed to warn the parents and physicians of a young autistic boy about the side effects of their extremely profitable antipsychotic drug Risperdal.
During the trial, evidence was presented showing that Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. (a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson) suppressed and withheld information showing that taking Risperdal is linked to gynecomastia, a condition that causes excess breast tissue to develop in males and that requires breast reduction surgery to correct in some cases. Many adolescent boys and men with gynecomastia suffer not just because of treatments and surgical interventions but also because of the psychological and emotional distress that this condition can cause.
In this Philadelphia case, the family of 20-year-old Austin Pledger alleged that his breast growth was a result of the five-year Risperdal treatment course he began when he was just seven years old and Risperdal was only approved by the FDA for adult use. In fact, witness testimony during the trail revealed that approximately 20% of Risperdal prescriptions were made out to children and adolescents before it was approved for that usage.
Testimony from former FDA Commissioner David Kessler during the trial showed that Johnson & Johnson not only had concrete data about the increased risk of breast growth in males, but deliberately withheld that information from prescribers and incorrectly labeled their drug to downplay the risks of gynecomastia. While the side effect was listed as “rare” on the label, occurring in fewer than one in 1,000 patients, before 2006, reports from as early as the 1990s indicated that as many as 5.5 in 100 patients who were prescribed Risperdal had developed gynecomastia – a rate that is well beyond the requirements to label a side effect as “frequent.”
This case is just one more chapter in the much longer story of Johnson & Johnson’s misconduct related to Risperdal. For example, in November of 2013, the company admitted to criminal misconduct and paid $2.2 billion as a result of providing kickbacks to doctors and illegally promoting drugs, including Risperdal, for off-label use. And in 2012, the company agreed to pay $181 million for similar breaches of ethics.
While Pledger’s case is the first verdict of its kind related to Risperdal, approximately 70 other Risperdal-related cases have already been settled out of court by Johnson & Johnson, and over 1,250 more cases are pending in Philadelphia County alone.
As this case and others have shown, Johnson & Johnson, the makers of Risperdal, did not adequately warn users of the risks of side effects and even went so far as to withhold information from prescribers – most notably information regarding gynecomastia – which placed millions at risk in the process. If you or someone you know has taken Risperdal and suffered from adverse side effects that were not listed or mentioned by your physician, call Crosley Law Firm today to schedule your free in-depth case review and consultation. You can also view more information on our practice page about Risperdal and download a free e-book about bad drugs, how prescriptions like Risperdal get approved, and how the pharmaceutical industry compromises ethics to make bigger profits. Don’t hesitate – call Crosley Law Firm today!
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Fair, M. (2015, February 24). Breaking: J&J hit with $2.5m verdict in Philly Risperdal trial. Law 360. Retrieved from http://www.law360.com/productliability/articles/624033?nl_pk=d4d7522b-0876-4551-a7d1-5562d7a621e3&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=productliability