Alabama native Austin Pledger started taking the antipsychotic Risperdal in 2002, when he was 8 years old, to treat autism symptoms. By the time he was a teenager, Pledger had been diagnosed with gynecomastia, the abnormal development of breasts in men. Reportedly, Pledger’s breasts reached size 46DD. Instead of suffering in silence, the patient and his mother sought justice, as Houston Risperdal cases of the law firm of Reich & Binstock also have done. And two months ago, a jury saw things Pledger’s way.
Pledger filed one of more than a thousand Risperdal lawsuits at a Philadelphia trial court against the drug’s manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson-owned Janssen Pharmaceuticals. The case went to trial, and a jury awarded the family $2.5 million in damages.
When a patient’s health is compromised by a drug’s unreasonable risk, about which the manufacturer of the drug failed to warn, the justice system ensures that the victim is compensated. That is what happened in this case, and it may happen again and again.
Plaintiffs in Risperdal lawsuits allege that the manufacturer had a duty to warn patients and their health care providers about the drug’s adverse effects, including the risk of gynecomastia. In the plaintiffs’ long-form complaint, Risperdal victims accused the defendants of “distributing promotional materials that were false and misleading in that they minimized the risks of these serious adverse events, failed to advise physicians to monitor patients for these adverse events, and otherwise falsely claimed that [Risperdal] was safer and more efficacious than other antipsychotic medications on the market.”
Making matters worse – as if that is possible – Pledger, back in 2002, was in a class of patients to whom Risperdal never should have been marketed in the first place. He was too young!
The U.S. Justice Department’s November 2013 statement about Johnson & Johnson’s criminal and civil penalties said it all. J&J and its subsidiaries had to pony up $2.2 billion to resolve criminal and civil liability for activities related to drug “promotion for uses not approved as safe and effective by the Food and Drug Administration.” A part of that settlement addressed the pharmaceutical giant’s promotion of Risperdal for use in children from 1999 through 2005 even though, according to the Justice Department’s statement, “until late 2006, Risperdal was not approved for use in children for any purpose, and the FDA repeatedly warned the company against promoting it for use in children.” The FDA originally approved Risperdal in 1993.
Science, not conjecture, established the link between Risperdal, the generic of which is risperidone, and the development of gynecomastia. For instance, the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology published in December 2012 research showing that excess prolactin, which plays a role in female breast growth and in milk production, “is a common side effect in young males treated over the long term with risperidone.”
Moreover, the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology in April 2006 published the findings of a Swiss study on Risperdal gynecomastia. Researchers wrote, “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.”
Any male who used Risperdal and who since has been diagnosed with gynecomastia may be entitled to compensation. The Houston pharmaceutical injury attorneys at Reich & Binstock will investigate the claims of patients or their parents at no charge. Reich & Binstock has been representing plaintiffs in product liability lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies since 1984, leveraging considerable experience and expertise to fight hard for justice.
For a free consultation, contact Reich & Binstock either by calling the toll-free number, 1-866-LAW-2400, or by submitting an electronic message through this website.