After years of litigation and several court losses for harm caused by Risperdal, Johnson & Johnson’s legal team agreed to settle the suit of a young boy from Mississippi who claims he developed female-like breasts after taking the drug Risperdal. The plaintiff began taking Risperdal in 2004 after he was tentatively diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
J&J has long claimed the condition, call gynecomastia, was rare and only effected 1 in 1,000 men. However, Risperdal’s label now warns that the condition is 23 times more common in boys than in men.
Stephen Sheller of Sheller PC, working with two other firms, filed suit on behalf of the young Mississippi plaintiff. The firms also represented a teenager from Tennessee who developed 46DD breasts after taking Risperdal, resulting in a $70 million verdict in 2016. The settlement is the largest so far and included punitive damages which was denied other plaintiffs. Plaintiffs from two previous verdicts have been remanded back to court after the PA Superior Court reversed the punitive damages ban.
The settlement is a change in tactics for J&J. Jamie Sheller of Sheller PC, who represented the Tennessee teenage plaintiff, was quoted by FiercePharma as saying: “So far J&J seems intent on trying these cases and remains tone deaf to the clear reactions of the juries when presented with the truth.” The judge has urged the appellate court to uphold the $70 verdict.
According to J&J’s quarterly SEC filing, the drug manufacturer has another 13,500 cases filed against them alleging harm from Risperdal. Over 6,000 are awaiting trial in a consolidated mass tort in Philadelphia.
In addition to the millions paid in court verdicts, J&J has also paid out billions in fines to federal and state governments for off-label marketing of Rispderal to children before the FDA had approved it in adolescents. Sheller discusses J&J’s marketing tactics in his book, Pharmageddon.
Johnson & Johnson inks last-minute Risperdal deal in boy-with-breasts case, FiercePharma, October 23, 2018
Jury smacks J&J with $70M in damages in latest Risperdal breast case, FiercePharma, July 5, 2016