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A spike in Risperdal gynecomastia lawsuits filed in the first half of 2017 against pharma giant Johnson & Johnson may be attributed to the decision by J&J subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals—which markets Risperdal, an antipsychotic medication—to end a tolling agreement.

Tolling agreements are written agreements signed by both parties to a potential lawsuit to suspend the statute of limitations on a claim for a period of time. This agreement gives the parties additional time to assess the potential claim and damages, and, ideally, settle the dispute.

Janssen reportedly called to end the tolling agreement following a whopping $70 million jury verdict in July 2017 in favor of the plaintiff.

The plaintiff in the July case was a Tennessee man who at age five developed gynecomastia, the development of breast tissue in boys or men caused by an imbalance of estrogen or testosterone.

It has been alleged in the thousands of pending Risperdal gynecomastia lawsuits that the antipsychotic drug, widely used to manage schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and irritability caused by autism, increases the levels of prolactin, a hormone that stimulates female breast development and lactation.

The plaintiffs accuse the manufacturers of failing to warn consumers about this risk.

The FDA did not approve Risperdal for use in children until 2006, the same year Johnson & Johnson updated the drug’s label to warn that 2.3 percent of male adolescents treated with the drug had experienced gynecomastia. Before that, the drug maker said gynecomastia was a rare occurrence, affecting fewer than one in 1,000 patients.

The Legal Intelligencer reported in its July 12, 2017 issue that the number of Risperdal filings has nearly tripled since the beginning of the year, giving it the distinction of being the largest mass tort program in the busy Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas.

In January 2017, there were some 2,000 Risperdal lawsuits pending and, by June, that figure had climbed to the north of 5,500, a nearly 40 percent jump from 2015, according to The Legal Intelligencer.

In addition to the $2.5 million verdict won in 2015, and the $70 million judgment in 2017, juries have awarded plaintiffs $1.75 million (later reduced by the court to $680,000) and $500,000 in Risperdal gynecomastia lawsuits.

In another case, jurors found there was not enough evidence to blame Risperdal for the plaintiff’s breast growth, though the panel did find that the drugmaker failed to adequately warn doctors and patients about the gynecomastia risk.

As of January 2017, some 16,000 Risperdal gynecomastia lawsuits had been consolidated in California Superior Court in Los Angeles, according to MassTortNexus.com.

If you or a loved one suffered from gynecomastia side effects after taking Risperdal, legal help is available. Contact the experienced attorneys at McDonald Worley for a FREE case evaluation.