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Johnson & Johnson Sued in Risperdal Gynecomastia Lawsuit

A young man who was only seven years old when he was prescribed the powerful antipsychotic Risperdal is suing Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries, claiming that he suffered a number of serious and permanent side effects of the drug, including the growth of male breasts, which will likely have to be surgically removed.  This Risperdal gynecomastia lawsuit is one of  dozens that have been filed against the drug maker.

The young man’s complaint was filed in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois County Department, Law Division, on September 9, 2013.  The defendants, Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Johnson & Johnson Co., Excerpta Inc., Elsevier Science Publishing Co. and Elsevier, Inc. removed the case to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division on September 26, 2013.

The plaintiff, who is now 18 years old, was prescribed the drug from 2002 to 2008.  He claims that at the time he first used the drug, it was not approved for treatment of children for any reason.  He alleges that Johnson & Johnson’s subsidiary Janssen promoted the usage of Risperdal by children with criminal and reckless disregard for their welfare.  The non-Johnson & Johnson defendants are publishers of scientific materials.  The plaintiff accuses them of working with Janssen to fraudulently convey false and misleading materials about the safety of Risperdal.

As a result of his Risperdal usage, the plaintiff claims that he has suffered rapid weight gain, serious and permanent physical injury to his endocrine and sexual systems, gynecomastia (development of breasts), and other permanent physical and emotional damages.  He is suing for negligence, fraud, strict product liability for failure to warn, strict product liability, breach of express and implied warranties, violation of the Illinois Unfair Trade Practices Act, and conspiracy against the defendants.

The plaintiff seeks damages including past, present and future pain and suffering, serious physical injuries, permanent disfigurement, loss of enjoyment, past and/or future wages, and past and/or future damages including the cost of Risperdal and medical care.

Plaintiff alleges that Risperdal is being misused

Risperdal was approved by the FDA in 2003 for use in the treatment of symptoms of schizophrenia and symptoms of bipolar disorder.  Risperdal is believed to interfere with communication between the neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine.  In a patient with mental illness, neurotransmitter interference may help calm abnormal communication in the brain that causes symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions.

The plaintiff alleges that Janssen promoted Risperdal in a way that was false and misleading.  The complaint argues that Janssen illegally promoted Risperdal for off-label uses, in order to increase the drug’s profit-making potential.  Off-label usage occurs when a drug is prescribed for a condition not indicated on the label, and for which it does not have FDA approval.  The claimant alleges that Janssen promoted off-label use of Risperdal for children as young as 3 years old, for a variety of unapproved uses, such as Attention-Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Oppositional-Defiant Disorder (ODD), Conduct Disorder (CD), Autism, and other conditions.

The complaint also states that the plaintiff’s physicians would not have prescribed Risperdal to him if Janssen had provided adequate warning about the risks associated with the drug.  Furthermore, the plaintiff’s parents would not have allowed him to take the medication if they had been warned of the serious Risperdal side effects.

Risperdal lawsuits are becoming more widespread

As Risperdal usage became more widespread around 2006 and 2007, patients and scientific studies began to report serious side effects associated with the medication, including rapid weight gain, diabetes, heart problems, and male breast growth.  Many patients who allege that they were injured after taking the drug  have taken legal action.  By September 2012, over 400 Risperdal lawsuits had been filed in courts around the country.

Other young men have filed a Risperdal gynecomastia lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson, for example:

  • 2012: J&J agreed to a pretrial settlement with a Pennsylvania man, who claimed to have suffered psychological trauma after growing breasts while taking Risperdal, starting when he was only nine years old.
  • 2012: J&J settled five Risperdal lawsuits involving claims of gynecomastia that were filed in Philadelphia.  In one of the cases, the plaintiff said that he started taking the drug when he was five, and started growing breasts when he was 12.

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