A jury in Philadelphia has returned a verdict in a lawsuit against Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., parent company Johnson and Johnson for failing to warn parents and doctors of an autistic boy about the dangers of the antipsychotic drug Risperdal.
The jury awarded $2.5 million to a family because of the company’s failure to warn the family about a side effect of Risperdal that causes gynecomastia or abnormal breast tissue growth in adolescent boys.
The boy began taking Risperdal in 2002, long before the drug was approved for use in children by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In 2006, the FDA finally approved the use of Risperdal in autistic children for behavioral purposes and at that time, the label on the drug included a warning that breast tissue development was seen in 2.3 percent of children.
During the trial, which occurred in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, jurors heard testimony from previous employees of Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., (Janssen). The testimony of former employees was critical. Jurors heard that the company worked behind the scenes for years to bury evidence that Risperdal caused abnormal breast tissue growth in boys.
The lawsuit was filed in 2012 when an autistic boy, who had been prescribed Risperdal for five years from the age of seven to twelve, developed breast tissue.
Initially, the FDA approved the use of Risperdal only for use in adults struggling with psychiatric issues. By prescribing the drug to the autistic child, doctors were engaging in off-label use of the drug.
A former sales representative who worked for Janssen testified that sales personnel would repeatedly visit pediatric neurologists and hand out free samples of Risperdal.
David Kessler, a former FDA commissioner, also testified at the trial stating that Janssen had intentionally attempted to manipulate data in scientific studies revealing the link between the development of gynecomastia in boys and the use of Risperdal.
Johnson & Johnson Pleads Guilty to Criminal Charges
Johnson & Johnson settled a whistleblower federal False Claims Act in 2013 after it was accused of offering kickbacks and other perks to doctors to promote the off-label use of Risperdal. The company pled guilty to criminal fraud and paid more than $2 billion in fines and fees.
In Philadelphia, there are more than 1,200 lawsuits pending in a mass tort case related to Risperdal. In Los Angeles, more than 700 additional lawsuits have been filed. In total, the company is facing more than 3,000 lawsuits across the country. The first ever Risperdal personal injury lawsuit to go to trial was in Philadelphia in September of 2012. Johnson & Johnson promptly agreed to settle the case on the first day of trial.
Since the first trial, Johnson & Johnson has slowly settled many individual claims. However, the companys new aggressive go to trial strategy has taken a beating.
This new jury award in Philadelphia will cost the company $2.5 million and set a precedent for the injuries and damages associated with the drug.
Plaintiffs and their attorneys have argued that Janssen intentionally created and marketed materials disregarding the breast growth risks. They also allege that the company failed to disclose the risks after becoming aware that boys may develop breast tissue.
If a child in your family was prescribed Risperdal and developed abnormal breast tissue, your family may be entitled to compensation. Contact the experienced trial lawyers at GWC Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation today.