Award is largest in Philadelphia litigation over side effect
Drugmaker says award to Tennessee teen is ‘clearly excessive’
Officials of J&J’s Janssen unit, which sells Risperdal, said the drug’s safety label contained proper warnings about the breast side effect. The company intends to challenge the verdict.
“This verdict sends a clear message to J&J to step up and take responsibility for the damage they’ve done to these young men and to set up a global settlement program so the families don’t have to continue to suffer through these trials,” Sheller said in an interview.
In 2013, J&J agreed to pay $2.2 billion to resolve criminal and civil probes into allegations that it illegally marketed Risperdal to children and the elderly. The settlement, which included marketing claims about two other J&J drugs, was one of the largest U.S. health-fraud penalties in history.
New Brunswick, New Jersey-based J&J has been settling some of the male breast cases filed in Philadelphia but has been hit with several verdicts, starting in February 2015 with the $2.5 million awarded to Austin Pledger, an autistic man from Alabama. In November, a separate jury in the same court later awarded $1.75 million to another Risperdal user who developed breasts.
Lawyers for the Tennessee resident, identified as A.Y. in court papers, told jurors he started taking Risperdal at age 5 to treat a psychiatric disorder and never received a warning about breast development. The teen is now 16, according to the filings.
They argued J&J officials intentionally kept pediatricians and psychiatrists in the dark about study results showing Risperdal caused abnormal breast development in boys so they’d keep writing prescriptions, Sheller said.
The case is A.Y. v. Janssen, No. 130402094, Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas (Philadelphia).