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According to a CNN report, Eddie B. began taking the anti-psychotic medication Risperdal at age 13 to treat anxiety and bipolar disorder. Eighteen months later, he developed female-sized breasts, a medical condition known as gynecomastia.
It was the early 2000s and the drug, manufactured by Johnson & Johnson, and marketed by its subsidiary Janssen, had not yet received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use by children.
Eddie told CNN that had he known about its side effects, he never would have taken Risperdal. “Everybody picking on you for being a boy with boobs. … It’s just … depressing.”
On the market since 1994, it wasn’t until 2006, the same year the FDA approved Risperdal to treat irritability in children with autism, that Johnson & Johnson included a gynecomastia warning on the widely popular drug.
Now in his late 20s, Eddie is one of thousands of plaintiffs suing the drugmaker who suffered the same fate.
According to an article published on the National Institute of Health’s website, citing a large study of children and adolescents, Risperdal was the most prescribed antipsychotic drug between 1996 and 2000, and the second most prescribed in 2006.
Risperdal works by blocking dopamine, but also affects the pituitary gland, which produces hormones. The drug stimulates the pituitary gland, which results in the release of prolactin, the hormone responsible for stimulating breast tissue development and causing lactation in pregnant and nursing women.
Gynecomastia can develop in one or both breasts and lactation may even occur. Once a boy develops gynecomastia, it’s a permanent condition, even if the medication is discontinued. Surgery is required to remove the breast tissue.
Risperdal Lawsuits and Settlements
Risperdal gynecomastia has spawned tens of thousands of lawsuits across the country, leading to the consolidation of some 16,000 lawsuits in California Superior Court in Los Angeles as of January 2017.
And the number of Risperdal filings has nearly tripled since the beginning of 2017, making it the largest mass tort in the busy Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas.
A Maryland jury in July 2017 awarded an autistic man nearly $2 million in damages for developing Risperdal gynecomastia as a youth.
A year earlier, jurors in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas returned a whopping $70 million verdict in favor of a Tennessee teenager who suffered gynecomastia at age five due to taking Risperdal.
In that case, Johnson & Johnson and Janssen were found liable for failing to warn the child’s doctors about the risk and for intentionally falsifying, destroying or concealing evidence in the case, specifically that the drug companies purposely concealed from doctors the results of a study showing the risk of Risperdal gynecomastia so that physicians would continue to prescribe the drug.
Five times Philadelphia juries have found the drugmakers responsible for failing to adequately warn healthcare providers about the risk of Risperdal gynecomastia.
It has been widely reported that Johnson & Johnson have also settled numerous gynecomastia claims out of court.
If you’ve been injured by taking Risperdal, contact the attorneys at McDonald Worley for a FREE case evaluation.