- Johnson & Johnson (J&J) lost yet another Risperdal case, this time involving a teenager who developed breasts after taking the drug for psychiatric purposes. The Philadelphia jury awarded $70 million to the affected family, the plaintiff's law firm reported on Tuesday.
- J&J has previously plead guilty of to misbranding Risperdal for unapproved uses in adult patients. The drug for treatment of adults in 2002 and for children in 2006. Federal investigations, as well as class-action lawsuits, date back to 2012.
- The company has repeatedly expressed its sympathy for the boys and young men whose suffering have led them to file suits. Nonetheless, the company says that the evidence does not support the outcomes of the cases which J&J has lost.
This latest case is one of thousands of lawsuits that have been filed against J&J because of the impact of Risperdal on the development of breasts in boys (a condition known as gynecomastia). Already, J&J has lost four cases and faced a split jury on a fifth.
The cases are not going away, and as the losses mount, J&J must also deal with its image, which has been tarnished from this ongoing scandal. To make matters worse, J&J is also facing numerous lawsuits alleging a link between the company's talcum powder and ovarian cancer.
In both situations, the plaintiffs' lawyers contend that J&J knew about the risks associated with the medication and failed to disclose the information. Dr. David Kessler, a former FDA Commissioner, has offered testimony saying that J&J knew about the risks of Risperdal-induced gynecomastia but failed to share that knowledge with patients and parents.
Although subtle gynecomastia often occurs in adolescent boys, especially during periods when their hormones are unbalanced, Risperdal-induced gynecomastia can be more dramatic and has reportedly led to breasts growing as large as 46DD, reports Stat.
The financial impact to the company has not been insignificant, and the latest $70 million verdict is the steepest yet. Even before the cases started going to trial, J&J paid the Department of Justice more than $2.2 billion in 2013 to resolve civil and criminal investigations related to the marketing of Risperdal and other drugs.