Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals face more than 15,000 lawsuits over alleged disfiguring side effects caused by its antipsychotic drug Risperdal. The last case to be tried resulted in a $70 million verdict in favor of a young Tennessee boy.
The next scheduled trial, which involved a New York boy who claimed he suffered serious Risperdal side effects, ended with a confidential settlement agreement early this year. Could that be a sign that the pharmaceutical giant is considering settling more cases?
J&J says it is taking each case one-by-one to decide whether a settlement is in order. Otherwise, the company plans to hedge its bets. Several more Risperdal trials are scheduled for the first half of 2017, and more trials involving multiple plaintiff firms are set to hit before the end of the year. The results of these lawsuits could have a significant impact on the possibility of settlements in the future.
Risperdal, known chemically as risperidone, is used to treat adults and children with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and irritability with autism. It is often used off-label to treat behavioral conditions including ADHD. The drug can disturb metabolism, cause weight gain, and increase levels of prolactin, the hormone that triggers lactation in pregnant women. When this occurs in adolescent boys taking Risperdal, it can cause abnormal breast growth, a condition known as gynecomastia.
Gynecomatia is an emotional burden that can cause physical symptoms such as breast tenderness and lactation. Treatment often involves procedures to remove the breast tissue, such as liposuction and mastectomy.