The day before the sixth Risperdal trial was scheduled to begin; the parties settled the case for an undisclosed sum. The allegations in the case were that the antipsychotic drug caused a young man to develop excessive breast tissue.
Evidence suggested that the pharmaceutical company was aware of the possible side effect, but provided no warning. This summer, a jury awarded $70 million to a Tennessee teenager with a similar claim. The company planned to appeal this verdict.
Mass tort claims against Johnson & Johnson/Janssen Pharmaceuticals
In 2013, J&J paid one of the largest health-fraud penalties after an investigation found Risperdal had illegally been marketed to children. Since this time, civil dangerous drug cases have been winding their way through the court system. There are still approximately 1,500 cases pending related to the claimed side effects.
In addition to the recent settlement, another case was settled in May on the eve of trial. Of the other cases that have gone to trial, plaintiffs have prevailed in three of the four cases. Verdicts have ranged from $500,000 to $2.5 million.
Branded versus generic drug use
In the one defense verdict, the jury found that Janssen was negligent in its failure to warn of the dangers posed by Risperdal. However, they did not believe the drug had caused the breast growth.
The recent settlement may have related to a similar issue. In that case, the young man was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome and several other disorders at age seven. After about a year on Risperdal, he was taken off the drug. After a few years, he started taking a generic form and remained on it four more years. He developed gynecomastia (the clinical term for an endocrine system disorder that leads to increases in the size of male breast tissue). While Janssen did not address the failure to warn claim, the company did argue that evidence could not prove that the gynecomastia came from use of the branded drug.
This area of the law is extremely complicated. When a serious side effect occurs after taking a prescription medication, speak with an attorney to learn if a remedy might be available.