Plaintiffs Settle Risperdal Case with Johnson & Johnson in Philadelphia Court

Risperdal causes gynecomastia, or enlarged breasts, in men.
Risperdal causes gynecomastia, or enlarged breasts, in men.

The parties in a case charging that a boy who took Risperdal, causing him to grow female breasts, settled for an undisclosed amount with Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. Meanwhile, appeals continue over when the statute of limitations begins to run for victims of the Risperdal side effects.

  • A total of 2,085 Risperdal products liability cases are pending in the Complex Litigation Center of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.
  • Another 300 cases are pending in the Superior Court of Los Angeles.

J&J Suppressed Science

In the Philadelphia case that settled, the plaintiff started taking Risperdal at age six for Asperger’s syndrome. N.F. v. Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Case No. 13500998. It would have been the sixth case to go to trial over evidence that Janssen hid a scientific link between the antipsychotic drug and male breast growth, or gynecomastia.

Jason Itkin of Arnold & Itkin in Houston, TX.
Plaintiff attorney Jason Itkin of Arnold & Itkin in Houston, TX.

Risperdal was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2002 to treat schizophrenia, but was not cleared for use in children until 2006.

Evidence that the company lied  about the scientific link and hid it from the Food and Drug Administration led to a $70 million jury verdict against Janssen on July 1. The case is Andrew Yount v. Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. et al., case number 1304002094, in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania. 

The jury in the Yount case found that J&J intentionally falsified, concealed, or destroyed material evidence,” states a press release from Arnold & Itkin.

“During trial, evidence that became known in the case as ‘Tab 4,’ was publicly revealed for the first time. Tab 4 includes scientific data showing a link between Risperdal and gynecomastia. The lawyers made a case that J&J intentionally kept Tab 4 secret- withholding it from the FDA and keeping it out of published scientific studies,” the press release states.

Janssen knew about a key safety analysis since 2002, but failed to give it to the FDA, as they should have, when looking to get Risperdal approved for children, according to New Brunswick Today.

In 2013 the Department of Justice penalized Johnson & Johnson for more than $2.2 billion to resolve criminal and civil investigations allegations include off-label marketing and kickbacks to doctors and pharmacists relating to Risperdal.

Appeal over Statute of Limitations

A appeals panel of the Pennsylvania Superior Court may decide in three cases whether plaintiffs should have been reasonably aware that Risperdal caused breast enlargement as of June 30, 2009, starting the statute of limitations.

In January 2015 Judge Arnold L. New, the Coordinating Judge of the Complex Litigation Center, ruled that plaintiffs had two years to file a claim starting from the 2009 date. In Re: Risperdal Litigation, case numbers 576 EDA 2015, 590 EDA 2015 and 2451 EDA 2015, in the Superior Court of the State of Pennsylvania.

Judge New said the potential connection between Risperdal and gynecomastia had been revealed in several medical journals and media reports, and added to the drug’s warning label.

In oral arguments in September, plaintiff attorneys argued to the appeals court that the trial judge had improperly attempted to set a global accrual date for Risperdal claims that didn’t conform to the individual experiences of the two men whose cases served as a springboard for the ruling.

Larry Bodine

Attorney Larry Bodine is Editor of Mass Tort Nexus, and the Editor of The National Trial Lawyers. He is the former Editor in Chief of and the American Bar Association Journal. He is a cum laude graduate of both Seton Hall University Law School and Amherst College.

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