A Philadelphia State judge rejected Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceutical attorney’s claims that the company was prejudiced by a new expert witness for plaintiffs in a lawsuit alleging Janssen’s antipsychotic drug Risperdal caused a boy to grow large female breasts. The condition is known as gynocomastia.
Defense attorneys argued that Janssen had been disadvantaged by the new expert’s testimony, which contained different opinions than those of a previous expert witness. The previous witness suddenly withdrew from the case after defense attorneys accused the doctor of failing to comply with state law when he examined the plaintiff in his home state of Alabama, where the doctor was not licensed to practice.
The family of Austin Pledger, now 20, filed the lawsuit against Janssen in 2012 claiming that their son took Risperdal for five years beginning at age 7 to treat autism, and subsequently developed female breasts, a condition known as gynecomastia. The family claims that the drug company did not warn that using the drug could cause a change in hormones, which could lead to gynecomastia in adolescent boys.
Gynecomastia is a devastating condition that can be both emotionally and physically painful. Treatment usually requires surgery such as liposuction and/or mastectomy to remove the breast tissue.
Missouri physician David Goldstein was hired by plaintiffs attorneys to examine Pledger at his home in Alabama, and provide expert testimony regarding his condition. However, he withdrew as a witness after defense attorneys raised concerns about whether he violated the law by examining Pledger in a state where he was not licensed.
Despite defense objections, Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas Judge Ramy Djerassi granted permission for plaintiffs to bring forth a new expert witness. Plastic surgeon Mark Solomon was tapped to fill that void and provided a new causation report. However, defense attorneys argued that Solomon’s opinions were significantly different than Goldstein’s. Regardless, Solomon, just as his predecessor, stood firm on his conclusion that Risperdal had caused the boy’s gynecomastia.
Source: Law 360