Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay $2.5 million to family of man who grew breasts.
25 Feb 2015
An autistic Alabama man developed 46DD breasts after taking antipsychotic drug Risperdal for five years from the age of eight. A US jury has now ruled that drug maker did not give adequate warnings about possible sideeffects of its bestselling medicine The drug was once Johnson & Johnson’s bestseller, with worldwide sales of nearly $25 billion from 2003 to 2010, before the company lost patent protection.
The family of an autistic man who developed large female breasts after taking an antipsychotic drug as a child has been awarded $2.5 million in damages from the pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson by a US court.
The trial was the first in thousands of lawsuits that have been filed against the drugmaker for the sideeffect of Risperdal, the mental illness medication that was once its biggest-seller.
The Philadelphia state court jury concluded that the company and its Jansen unit failed to issue proper warnings that the drug could cause gynecomastia, the abnormal development of breasts in males.
The case was brought by the family of Austin Pledger, a young Alabama man who grew size 46DD breasts after he was prescribed Risperdal for five years as a child. He began taking the drug aged eight in 2002.
“This company targeted vulnerable children to make billions of dollars,” said Steven Sheller, a lawyer for the family. “This is one of the worst cases of corporate greed I’ve ever seen.
After the verdict was reached, a Johnson & Johnson representative insisted that the company had issued adequate warnings about possible side effects in the medication’s label and said it was considering an appeal. “We firmly believe this verdict should be overturned,” said Robyn Frenze, a spokesman for Jansen.
But the jury heard evidence that the drugmaker hid federal data from doctors and parents that a much higher percentage of children were developing gynecomastia than the company admitted.
The trial was closely followed by lawyers who have prepared up to 3,000 Risperdal cases in states across the US. Some cases have been settled out of court with undisclosed terms.
The drug was once Johnson & Johnson’s bestseller, with worldwide sales of nearly $25 billion from 2003 to 2010, before the company lost patent protection.
In a separate case brought by federal officials and state prosecutors, the company agreed in to pay $2.2 billion in 2013 to resolve allegations that it illegally marketed the drug to children and the elderly. The settlement was one of the largest health-fraud cases in history.