We have written previously in several issues about the drug Risperdal. For our new readers, this drug is an atypical anti-psychotic medication approved to treat symptoms of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and autism. Manufactured and sold by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (Janssen), a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, Risperdal was first marketed and sold in the United States in January 1994. At that time, Risperdal was only approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the management of psychotic disorders in adults. Despite having no clinical evidence to support safety and efficacy, Janssen sought FDA approval for a pediatric indication for Risperdal in 1997. Janssen knew that obtaining a pediatric indication for Risperdal would greatly expand its consumer base, and thus drastically increase sales.
Even after the FDA denied its request for a pediatric indication, Janssen developed a marketing plan specifically to promote the use of Risperdal in children and adolescents. Janssen continued promoting Risperdal for use in children and adolescents even after discovering it was more likely to cause adverse effects in comparison to other atypical anti-psychotic medications. One of the main adverse effects of which Janssen was aware was gynecomastia, or the development of breasts in males.
Johnson & Johnson settled charges brought by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) for $2.2 billion in 2013 related to the off-label promotion of Risperdal for use in children during the 1990s and early 2000s. Additionally, more than 1,750 cases have been filed against Janssen in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas and its Complex Litigation Center on behalf of young men who developed female-like breasts after taking Risperdal. Consolidated litigation is also ongoing in California.
In July, a jury in the case of Andrew Yount v. Janssen Pharmaceuticals, the fifth Risperdal case heard in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas to date, awarded the plaintiff $70 million in damages for physical disfigurement and emotional distress related to his development of breasts connected with taking Risperdal. In August, Judge Paula A. Patrick agreed to add approximately $6.7 million in delay damages to Plaintiff Andrew Yount and his family.
After the verdict was issued, lawyers for the Yount family asked the court to increase the award amount on the basis that the family was entitled to delay damages from April 16, 2014, one year after service of the complaint, through July 1, 2016, the date of the verdict. Plaintiffs’ lawyers calculated the amount at 4.25 percent annually for years 2014 and 2015, and at 4.5 percent for 2016.
To date, $70 million is the highest award to a Plaintiff in the Philadelphia Risperdal litigation, following earlier Plaintiff’s verdicts of $2.2 million and $500,000. So far, only one case, featuring Pennsylvania Plaintiff William Cirba, has ended with a ruling in Janssen’s favor.
Firms across the country, including Beasley Allen, continue to press forward in an effort to resolve Risperdal cases against Janssen. For more information, contact James Lampkin or Beau Darley, lawyers in our firm’s Mass Torts Section, at 800-898-2034 or by email at James.Lampkin@beasleyallen.com or Beau.Darley@beasleyallen.com.
Sources: Penn Record, The Legal Examiner and Law360.com
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