Update: Punitive Damages Allowed in Risperdal Gynecomastia Lawsuit
January 17, 2018 – A Pennsylvania Superior Court has cleared the way for punitive damages in a lawsuit filed on behalf of a boy who grew breasts after taking Risperdal to treat his Tourette’s syndrome. Plaintiff Timothy Stange was awarded more than $500,000 in compensatory damages in 2015, and then on Jan. 10 a three-member judicial panel ruled that Stange could also be awarded punitive damages for his injuries.
What is Risperdal?
Risperdal (risperidone) is a powerful anti-psychotic drug that was developed by Janssen Pharmaceuticals (now part of Johnson & Johnson). It was approved in 1993 for the short-term treatment of adults with schizophrenia. Approval was expanded in 2003 for acute manic or mixed episodes associated with extreme mood swings.
Risperdal in Children
In 2006 and 2007, Risperdal was approved for pediatric uses including irritability associated with autism and short-term treatment of bipolar disorder. Unfortunately, recent lawsuits accuse drug-makers of illegal “off-label” marketing of Risperdal in children between 1999-2005.
Studies linking Risperdal and gynecomastia in children were published as early as 1999. The Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology published a study with the following warning about side effects of Risperdal in children:
“Risperidone administered to adolescents at doses commonly used for the treatment of psychotic symptoms can strongly increase prolactin levels, with clinical consequences such as gynecomastia and/or galactorrhea. Given that the long-term effects of antipsychotic drug-induced hyperprolactinemia are not well documented, especially regarding osteopenia, infertility, growth, and pubertal delay, risperidone should be administered with caution to children and adolescents.”
Risperdal Side Effects
- Male breast growth (gynecomastia)
- Weight gain (medically serious)
- Type-2 diabetes and blood-sugar disorders
- Tardive dyskinesia
- Delayed onset of puberty
- Sexual dysfunction
- Bone loss
- Poor growth
- Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome (NMS)
- Heart attack
- Irregular heart rhythm
- And more
Janssen Granted Non-Suit Motion in Philadelphia Risperdal Lawsuit
April 25, 2017 – The latest Risperdal lawsuit to go to trial in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas has been dismissed by a state court judge for a piece of photographic evidence allegedly lacking authentication, according to PennRecord. On April 17, Judge Kenneth Powell ruled to grant a motion for non-suit for Pennsylvania plaintiff Dean Hibbs’s case against Janssen Pharmaceuticals. It was the ninth case to proceed against the company in Philadelphia’s Risperdal mass tort program, and the second time a case has been thrown out mid-trial.
Risperdal Gynecomastia Lawsuit Dismissed; Plaintiffs Will Appeal
March 28, 2017 – A products liability lawsuit alleging gynecomastia from Risperdal was tossed by the presiding judge after he found that testimony from the plaintiff’s prescribing physician did not satisfy the learned intermediary doctrine, which requires proof that a different warning would have changed the treatment regimen. The doctor reportedly testified that he would’ve never considered Risperdal had he known of its potential to cause gynecomastia. However, another doctor testified that she would have continued to prescribe the drug because the potential benefits outweighed the risks.
Settlement Reached in Risperdal Gynecomastia Lawsuit
January 11, 2017 – Janssen Pharmaceuticals has settled another products liability lawsuit alleging gynecomastia from Risperdal days before what would have been the seventh such case to go to trial. Plaintiff Zachary Sabol filed his complaint in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas in April 2013, alleging that he developed boy boobs after taking Risperdal for about a decade.
J&J Must Pay $70M Settlement in Risperdal Gynecomastia Lawsuit
July 1, 2016 – A $70 million verdict won by a Tennessee teenager who blamed Risperdal for his development of gynecomastia dwarfs previous settlements awarded to users of the drug alleging the same injury, according to Bloomberg News. A Philadelphia jury today found that Johnson & Johnson failed to adequately warn the plaintiff and his family that Risperdal could cause him to grow female-size breasts and awarded him damages for emotional distress. The verdict is about 30x larger than the $2.5 million awarded last year to an Alabama man who sued the company after developing size 46 DD breasts.
$2.2 Billion Risperdal Lawsuit Settlement with Justice Department
November 4, 2013 — The U.S. Department of Justice has announced a $2.2 billion settlement that will resolve civil and criminal investigations involving illegal marketing of Risperdal. The complaint alleges that Janssen and J&J knew that Risperdal posed health risks in children, including the risk of elevated prolactin, a hormone that can stimulate male breast growth (gynecomastia).
Even so, sales representatives were instructed to call on child psychiatrists and mental health facilities that primarily treated children, and to market Risperdal as “safe and effective” for symptoms of common childhood disorders, such as ADHD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and more. During this time, drug-makers ignored repeated warnings from the FDA against promoting Risperdal for children.
Does Risperdal Cause Gynecomastia (Male Breast Growth)?
Dopamine normally inhibits release of prolactin, a pregnancy hormone. Because Risperdal works by blocking dopamine D2 receptors in the brain, many patients on Risperdal develop elevated prolactin levels (hyperprolactinemia). Clinical consequences include breast growth (gynecomastia) and milk production (galactorrhea) in both males and females.
What is Gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia is the growth of female breasts on males, and it can be extremely severe — cup-sizes up to 38D have been reported. Although true gynecomastia only involves glandular tissue, Risperdal is also known to cause extremely severe weight gain, which can exacerbate gynecomastia with fat deposits (adipose tissue) in the breast.
Complications of Breast Growth in Males
Although breast growth from Risperdal is benign (non-cancerous), it can cause severe complications. Young boys and teenagers are especially prone to teasing from their peers, and they may feel extremely self-conscious about their appearance. This can lead to long-term psychological consequences, including low self-esteem, depression, and social problems.
Treatment of Gynecomastia
Most doctors recommend surgical treatment of gynecomastia to reduce the risk of physical and emotional complications. The surgery involves excision of the mammary gland through a 1- to 2-cm incision at the edge of the nipple. Because this procedure can leave a “donut”-shaped breast, liposuction is also often used to improve the cosmetic appearance of the breast. Additional procedures may be needed to remove excess skin. Long-term complications of gynecomastia surgery may include scarring, nipple distortion, breast asymmetry, and poor cosmetic outcome.
Study Confirms Link Between Risperdal Use by Young Men and Gynecomastia
A study published in the August 2015 edition of the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology found that Risperdal users were 4x more likely to develop gynecomastia compared to non-users, and that children and adolescents users were 5x more likely to get the condition. “Risperidone is associated with an increase with the risk of gynecomastia in adolescent and young adult males,” the researchers concluded. Click here to read the article.
Risperdal Class Action Lawsuit
Janssen and Johnson & Johnson have lost four consecutive Risperdal class action lawsuits for defrauding taxpayer-funded healthcare systems. In April 2012, a judge in Arkansas ordered the drug-makers for pay $1.2 billion in fines — $5,000 per 240,000 prescriptions that the Arkansas Medicaid program paid in three years. In addition, Louisiana fined the companies $258 million, South Carolina fined them $327 million, and a jury in Texas awarded the state $158 million.
Risperdal Lawsuit Settlements
In September 2012, the first Risperdal lawsuit was settled in favor of a 21 year-old plaintiff with gynecomastia. The plaintiff, Aaron Banks, started taking Risperdal when he was just nine years old, from 2000-2004, before it was approved in children. He developed severe breast growth and required surgical treatment. Johnson & Johnson agreed to the settlement on the first day of trial. In October, they avoided four more trials by settling with plaintiffs for undisclosed payments.
Kentucky Risperdal Lawsuit Settled for $15.5 Million
March 29, 2016 – A lawsuit filed late last year by the Kentucky Attorney General has been settled for $15.5 million. The complaint accused Janssen of failing to adequately disclose the risks associated with Risperdal, and of illegally marketing the drug for off-label uses. Click here to learn more.
Do I have a Risperdal Class Action Lawsuit?
The Product Liability & Defective Drug Litigation Group at our law firm is an experienced team of trial lawyers that focus on the representation of plaintiffs in Risperdal lawsuits. We are handling individual litigation nationwide and currently accepting new cases in all 50 states.
Free Risperdal Lawsuit Evaluation: Again, if you or a loved one was injured by Risperdal, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by joining a Risperdal class action lawsuit or by filing a Risperdal lawsuit, and we can help.