A Philadelphia jury awarded $500,000 in compensatory damages to a young man who claimed he grew female-like breasts after taking the antipsychotic drug Risperdal.
The jury deliberated six hours before finding the manufacturers of Risperdal, Janssen Pharmaceuticals (a division of Johnson & Johnson), failed to warn health care providers and patients of a condition called gynecomastia which causes boys and young men to develop breasts.
Plaintiff Timothy Stange began taking the drug at 11 years old and developed breasts approximately a year later, according to court documents. At age18, Stange underwent a mastectomy to remove excess breast tissue.
The plaintiff was represented by the Philadelphia law firms of Sheller, P.C. and Kline & Specter. Thomas Kline of Kline & Specter litigated the case assisted by Sheller attorney Christopher Gomez.
Stange’s attorneys plan to appeal for punitive damages to compensate for the emotional damages the plaintiff suffered as a teenage boy with breasts.
This is the fifth Risperdal gynecomastia case for Sheller & Kline & Specter clients that have gone to trial, including one currently underway. The firms’ plaintiffs with similar claims were awarded $2.5 million in February and $1.75 million in November in jury verdicts. In another lawsuit, the verdict was in Janssen’s favor but found the drug company failed to warn of use in boys and young men.
Risperdal, originally approved in 1993 to treat severe psychotic disorders in adults, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only for limited use in children and adolescents in late 2006. Prior to 2006, the drug was prescribed “off label” to children.
There are more than 1,600 individual Risperdal gynecomastia cases awaiting trial, most in Philadelphia, the first scheduled for early 2016.
Attorney Stephen A. Sheller was the first to call attention to the link between Risperdal and gynecomastia and contends the drug should never have been approved for children. “The ‘new’ 2006 label did not then and does not now adequately warn prescribing physicians, parents and the public about the dangers of Risperdal to protect children and adolescents,” says Sheller.
Sheller and Janssen have previously been adversaries in Risperdal matters including one in which a whistleblower plaintiff, represented by Sheller, alleged the drugmaker violated the False Claims Act and engaged in illegal marketing. The case resulted in a $2.2 billion settlement between Janssen and the U.S. Department of Justice in 2013. (United States ex. rel. V.S, et al. v. Janssen Pharmaceutical Prods., L.P., No. 04-1529).
The case is In re: Risperdal Litigation, Timothy Stange v. Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., Johnson & Johnson Company, and Janssen Pharmaceutical Research and Development, LLC., no. 130401984 in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas.