More than 1,600 Risperdal injury claims are currently pending in Philadelphia court, all of which allege the antipsychotic drug caused female breast tissue development in young men. The first three trials have concluded in massive wins for the injured plaintiffs. Our Risperdal attorneys are currently representing young men who developed gynecomastia from this drug.
Gynecomastia is caused by an imbalance of hormones in males, leading to the swelling of breast tissue. Although it is not life-threatening, it can be difficult to cope with, cause physical pain and social isolation, and may require surgery.
Risperdal is a powerful antipsychotic drug used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The drugmaker knew Risperdal posed specific health risks to children, including elevating a hormone called prolactin, which stimulates breast growth and milk production. It also knew that this particular side effect was far more common in adolescent males than any other demographic, but chose to focus its marketing efforts on pediatricians, claiming the drug was safe and effective for a number of childhood disorders and even paying doctors to prescribe the drug to its adolescent patients. During this time, however, Risperdal was only approved to treat adults with schizophrenia or bipolar.
In the first gynecomastia trial, J&J was ordered to pay $2.5 million to an autistic boy who was prescribed Risperdal at age seven. In the next trial, the jury awarded $1.75 million to the autistic plaintiff. The third verdict was for $500,000. These are the first Risperdal gynecomastia lawsuits to go to trial, and only further strengthen the thousands of other gynecomastia claims currently pending.
The attorney for the plaintiff in the third trial stated Johnson & Johson's conduct was indefensible, and the worst conduct he has seen by a pharmaceutical company in 40 years of handing drug liability claims. The plaintiff in that case, who was prescribed Risperdal for symptoms of Tourette’s syndrome, had to undergo a double mastectomy to have his breast tissue removed.
Predatory, Illegal Marketing
By now, it is widely known that J&J purposefully marketed Risperdal to boys long before it had approval to do so. Even worse, the company knew that the drug was likely to cause gynecomastia in young, vulnerable boys, but chose to significantly downplay its side effects while overstating its benefits. This is not only immoral, unethical, and unconscionable, but it is fiercely illegal as well.
As a result of its insidious and predatory marketing tactics, J&J has been hit with billions of dollars in marketing violation settlements. The Department of Justice levied a $2.2 billion fine against the drugmaker to resolve criminal and civil investigations into Risperdal. Federal investigations found the company paid doctors and pharmacies to prescribe the drug for uses not approved as safe or effective by the FDA.
The government charged that, from 1999 to 2005, J&J marketed Risperdal to control the behavior of children and those with mental disabilities. The drugmaker instructed its salespeople to call on children psychiatrists and other providers that primarily treated children, to market the use of Risperdal for a myriad of childhood disorders. Although Risperdal was approved only to treat schizophrenia in adults, J&J told doctors it was safe and effective for ADHD, autism, Tourettes syndrome, and OCD, despite repeated warnings from the FDA not to promote Risperdal to children.
In addition to this federal settlement, many individual states have filed suit against J&J for this reprehensible conduct. In 2011, a jury in South Carolina ordered J&J to pay $327 million for Risperdal marketing violations. The company successfully lowered the judgment to $124 million, but was still unhappy with the verdict. J&J appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which declined to take up the case, allowing the $124 million verdict to stand.
In a similar case, a jury in Arkansas ordered the company to pay $1.2 billion, which was later reduced to a mere $7.5 million.
The Risperdal gynecomastia lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm offer free legal advice to concerned families nationwide. We know how sensitive, overwhelming and difficult cases against drug companies can be, and we are here to help guide you through the process of filing a claim. We have been fighting against Big Pharma for 30 years, and have won millions for our injured clients.