Lawsuits alleging the antipsychotic Risperdal causes disfiguring side effects are not only the largest mass tort program in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. The litigation has nearly tripled in numbers from about 2,000 cases at the beginning of 2017 to more than 5,500 as of June, according to Law.com.
Statistics from the court show that Risperdal lawsuits increased from being 31.4 percent of the Complete Litigation Center’s inventory in January to more than half as of June 14 – a whopping 185 percent increase. The caseload jumped from 1,945 in January to 5,548 – an increase of 3,617 cases. Experts say the increase was caused in large part by a tolling agreement that was terminated last year.
The cases say that Risperdal’s maker, Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals, withheld side effects data that showed that adolescent boys who used the antipsychotic were at increased risk of developing gynecomastia, a troubling condition in which boys develop female-like breast tissue. Treatment generally involves procedures like liposuction and mastectomy.
Some of the lawsuits have been tried, with one case last year resulting in a $70 million verdict for a boy who claimed he grew breasts after taking Risperdal. Eight to 10 trials are scheduled to take place through the second half of 2017 and the beginning of 2018.
The Risperdal mass tort is the largest that Complex Litigation Center’s supervising Judge Arnold New has seen since he began leading the center in 2012. The largest to date in Philadelphia was the Fen-Phen litigation, which consisted of about 15,000 cases.