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A Philadelphia jury awarded $70 million to a boy who developed breasts after using antipsychotic drug Risperdal. The drug is manufactured by Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals, and the jury found that the companies failed to adequately warn doctors and consumers about the risk of gynecomastia in male patients.
This is the latest in a long line of decisions against Johnson & Johnson and Janssen based on Risperdal injuries, so here's what you need to know about the drug and the litigation.
Risperdal has long been prescribed as an anti-psychotic that can treat schizophrenia, autism, or bi-polar disorder. It is FDA approved, and can reduce aggressive behavior for some autistic people. But the problem with Risperdal is not its effects, but its side effects.
Risperdal use has been associated with increased levels of prolactin, a hormone that, among others things, controls milk production. Along with increased levels of prolactin comes breast enlargement, also known as gynecomastia. A study of autistic boys in 2012 showed that breast enlargement and diminished sexual functioning are common side effects of the drug. Autistic boys aged 10 to 20 taking Risperdal were twice as likely to develop gynecomastia than those not on the drug, and they were 14 percent more likely to suffer some sexual dysfunction.
According to recent lawsuits, Janssen knew about the elevated risk for gynecomastia as far back as 2003, and failed to warn patients. In addition, other anti-psychotics that have similar benefits in autistic patients don't have the same side effects, meaning the risk is particular to Risperdal.
In this case, a Tennessee boy, Andrew Yount, developed breasts after taking Risperdal. At the time, the FDA had only approved Risperdal for use in adults. The jury also heard evidence that Janssen manipulated study data showing that Risperdal was suspected of causing gynecomastia in an effort to downplay the risks to adolescents.
If you've suffered side effects from Risperdal use, you may be entitled to compensation. You should contact an experienced personal injury attorney -- most are happy to consult with you for free.