Last month the Superior Court of Pennsylvania granted a young man’s motion for retrial against pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals, the maker of the anti-psychotic drug Risperdal, according to PennRecord. By granting the retrial, the court reversed the only Risperdal jury verdict that had been handed down in favor of the defendants.
Like thousands of other plaintiffs, W.C. alleges the defendants didn’t adequately warn about the risk of gynecomastia (female-like breast development) in adolescent males taking Risperdal. During the trial, a physician’s assistant, Michelle Baker, testified about helping treat W.C. The appeals court said that Baker’s testimony was erroneously allowed to cross the line from fact to expert by the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.
The appellate court determined that Baker was testifying as an expert when she opined on what caused W.C.’s gyneomastia. Before she testified, her opinion had not received the level of scrutiny required of witnesses testifying as experts. The determination served as a basis for granting a retrial.
W.C. was prescribed Risperdal to treat oppositional defiant disorder. As Beasley Allen has previously explained, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) initially approved the drug in 1994 to treat schizophrenia in adult patients. It has since been approved to treat adolescent schizophrenia, bipolar mania in adults and children ages 10 to 17, and symptoms of autism in children and adolescents ages 5 to 17.
Janssen aggressively marketed the drug for off-label uses in children and adolescents from 1998 to at least 2004. In 2013, Johnson & Johnson agreed to a $2.2-billion settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) over these and other deceptive marketing practices involving Risperdal.
At least five Risperdal plaintiffs have won their cases and verdicts have been awarded ranging from $500,0000 to $77 million, according to Drugwatch.com. Approximately 5,500 claims have been filed against the defendants in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas and its Complex Litigation Center. Three thousand of those lawsuits were filed between January and March of this year. In addition to the Pennsylvania cases, approximately 16,900 lawsuits have been filed over the antipsychotic drug nationwide, according to LawyersandSettlements.com.
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If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with gynecomastia as a result of taking Risperdal, contact James Lampkin, a lawyer in our firm’s Mass Torts Section, at 800-898-2034 or by email at James.Lampkin@beasleyallen.com.
Jere Beasley Report (October 2012)