On Friday, March 20, 2014, a jury in Philadelphia found that Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals failed to warn consumers that the antipsychotic drug Risperdal could cause male breast growth, but it awarded no damages finding causation of a direct link between the drug and the plaintiff’s condition was not conclusively proved. The case was filed by William Cirba, a 19 year old man from Pennsylvania, and the verdict followed a month-long trial in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.
This was the second verdict to be handed down regarding Risperdal, also known as risperidone, on behalf of injured boys and young men who developed gynecomastia while taking Risperdal. Last month, jurors in Philadelphia found against Janssen Pharmaceuticals and returned a $2.5 million verdict for failure to warn in a similar case. These cases are the first in a series of scheduled “bellwether” trials to take place, designed to gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be seen repeatedly throughout the Risperdal litigation.
Risperdal was approved by the FDA in 1993 to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, but was not approved for use in children until 2006. Plaintiff’s lawyers say that Janssen routinely promoted the drug to physicians for off-label use, particularly in children, for a range of conditions including schizoaffective disorder, autism and oppositional defiance disorder, the condition with which Cirba, the plaintiff, had been diagnosed. Cirba, who was prescribed Risperdal prior to its approval for use in children in 2006, and took it intermittently until 2007, claimed in his lawsuit that taking the drug had caused him to develop gynecomastia, a hormonal imbalance that leads to breast growth in men and boys. The lawsuit stated Janssen knew about the risk but failed to provide adequate warnings to the medical community and consumers. Although gynecomastia is non-cancerous, the growth of male breasts can require surgery to correct the condition and can cause severe embarrassment and lasting psycho-social harm to already fragile children and adolescents.
Cirba’s lawsuit served as a reminder that in 2013, Johnson & Johnson paid more than $2.2 billion to resolve criminal and civil allegations by the U.S. Department of Justice that Johnson & Johnson illegally marketed drugs, including Risperdal, to children and the elderly. To date, there are approximately 1,300 lawsuits against Janssen consolidated in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.
Pope McGlamry represents men and parents of children who have taken Risperdal and consequently developed gynecomastia. Those who have been affected by Risperdal may be entitled to file their own claims against Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals. If you or a loved one took Risperdal as a child or adolescent and developed gynecomastia, contact the attorneys at Pope McGlamry to schedule your free consultation either online or at 877-285-7656.