On Feb. 26, 2015, South Carolina’s Supreme Court ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $136 million in Risperdal (generic name: risperidone) damages. The lawsuits are piling up, but the company denied any claims of illegally marketing risperidone to adolescents. The jury ruled in the plaintiffs’ favor over unpleasant gynecomastia side effects.
Unlawful Marketing Leads to Major Penalty for Johnson & Johnson
Justice John Kittredge commented on J&J’s marketing strategy during the ruling, saying “desire for market share and increased sale knew no bounds.” As a result, the company violated South Carolina state law. The court did, however, strike down the original $327 million penalty ordered in 2011. “The absence of significant actual harm resulting from deceptive conduct leads us to conclude the trial court erred in part in its penalty assessment,” said Kittredge.
Still, $136 million is not chump change. In fact, it’s the largest drug marketing settlement in state history. It’s a major step forward in the case against Risperdal, as the company won similar cases in Arkansas and Louisiana. Johnson & Johnson also paid Montana $5.9 million in a lawsuit settlement, while cases in both Pennsylvania and West Virginia were completely dismissed.
South Carolina sought penalties for both the written Risperdal prescriptions as well as false information that a letter written by Janssen contained and sent to physicians.
Risperidone and Gynecomastia
Risperdal is meant to treat conditions like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, irritability caused by autism as well as several other psychotic conditions. While the drug was eventually approved for adolescent use in 2006, many doctors remained skeptical about the potential side effects it could – and did – have on growing boys.
The main Risperdal issue is gynecomastia, or male breast development. Patients on the antipsychotic showed increased prolactin production, a hormone which triggers development of female breasts and lactation. When growing boys take Risperdal, they risk developing breasts up to size DD as well as weight gain.
While Risperdal’s label warns against gynecomastia in boys and men, Janssen marketed it to adolescents before the FDA’s 2006 approval. Worse, most doctors who spoke with Janssen salespersons claim they weren’t adequately warned about gynecomastia’s prevalence. As a result, countless boys developed enlarged breasts during their adolescence. While physical damages are clear (and often requires surgery to reverse), the emotional damage done is just as poignant.
What It Means For You
If you or someone you know developed gynecomastia while taking risperidone, especially before 2006, you may be eligible to file a Risperdal lawsuit. Fill out your free claim review today and speak with an attorney about how to get compensation for your pain and suffering.
1. Kurane, Supriya. “South Carolina Court Orders Johnson & Johnson to Pay $136 Million in Risperdal Case.” Reuters. February 26, 2015.
2. Kinnard, Meg. “Latest Local Breaking News by The State Newspaper in Columbia, SC | The State.” Latest Local Breaking News by The State Newspaper in Columbia, SC | The State. February 27, 2015.
3. Mundy, Alicia. “Risperdal Can Have Troubling Side Effects in Boys.” Health Blog RSS. November 25, 2008.
Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as Match.com, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity, Mail.com, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.