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The latest gynecomastia lawsuit to go to trial, involving allegations that side effects of Riserpdal caused a young man to experience abnormal breast growth, has resulted in a $500,000 jury award against Johnson & Johnson, for failing to adequately warn about the potential risks associated with their atypically antipsychotic.
The verdict was handed down by a Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas jury on December 11, in a case filed by Tim Stange, which is the latest in a series of “bellwether” trials scheduled for hundreds of Risperdal breast growth lawsuits pending in the state.
Stange indicated that he was prescribed Risperdal to treat Tourette syndrome when he was 11 years old, but claims that the medication has now caused the late-teenager to grow male breasts, a medication condition known as gynecomastia.
While the male breast growth from Risperdal was at first hidden by substantial weight gain associated with use of Risperdal, Stange ultimately required breast reduction surgery when he was 18 years old due to the gynecomastia problems.
According to the lawsuit, Stange suffered severe emotional damage, due to ridicule heaped on him by his peers as he struggled with both Tourette syndrome and abnormal male breast growth caused by Risperdal.
The case was selected as the fourth in a series of bellwether trials in Pennsylvania state court, which are being closely watched by Risperdal lawyers involved in other similar claims brought by young men nationwide.
Risperdal Bellwether Trials in Pennsylvania
Two prior Risperdal cases that have gone before state court juries have resulted in substantial damage awards as a result of the drug maker’s failure to provide adequate warnings for users and the medical community about the risk that the atypical antipsychotic may cause the development of breasts among boys and young men.
The only victory for the drug maker came in a March bellwether trial, which resulted in a defense verdict after the jury found that the specific plaintiff in the case failed to present sufficient evidence to establish that the abnormal breast growth was actually caused by use of Risperdal.
Johnson & Johnson has been quietly dealing with breast growth litigation over Risperdal for years, but the number of cases has continued to grow as more families and young adults learn that there may be a link between problems suffered following a diagnosis of gynecomastia and Risperdal use as a child.
In 2012, a different series of cases were scheduled to go before juries in Philadelphia, but the drug maker reached agreements to settle the Risperdal lawsuits just as the trials were set to begin.
While the outcomes of these early trial dates are not binding in other claims, they are designed to help gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the litigation. The process may facilitate Risperdal breast growth settlements that will avoid the need for hundreds of individual trials to be scheduled on behalf of individuals nationwide.