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As a growing number of Risperdal lawsuits continue to be filed on behalf of boys and young men who allegedly developed male breasts after taking the atypical antipsychotic medication, Johnson & Johnson is calling for a Philadelphia court to impose new requirements on individuals bringing complaints.
The litigation has been centralized in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas for several years, where a number of “bellwether” cases are already going before juries, in an attempt to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that may be repeated throughout the cases. However, at least 550 new cases were filed last year, representing a nearly 40% increase in the total number of cases filed against Johnson & Johnson and it’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals subsidiary.
According to a recent report in The Legal Intelligencer, the drug makers recently requested that all individuals pursuing a claim be required to submit prescription records and documentation to support that their injury was caused by side effects of Risperdal early in the discovery process, as part of the initial disclosures provided on a plaintiffs’ fact sheet. However, plaintiffs attorneys maintain that the move is an effort to change the established case-management procedures, and impose an unreasonable and unnecessary preliminary hurdle that early in the cases.
Each of the lawsuits raise similar allegations, arguing that the drug maker withheld information from users and the medical community about the risk that Risperdal may cause gynecomastia, a medical condition associated with the development female breasts among boys and young men. The side effects can have a devastating impact on users of the drug, often resulting in the need for breast removal surgery.
Plaintiffs argue that the new requirements would impose a burden that is typically only found in the most extraordinary circumstances, and which is not justified based on how the litigation has progressed. In addition, fact sheets provided by each plaintiff already provide details on the individual’s use of the medication, the claimed injury and other preliminary information needed at that early stage of the litigation.
The move comes after Johnson & Johnson has been hammered by a number of juries in early trial dates. In July 2016, the family of a five year old Tennessee boy was awarded $70 million in damages, with other prior verdicts including $500,000 in December 2015, $1.75 million in November 2015 and $2.5 million in February 2015.
While the drug maker has reached some gynecomastia settlements in select cases, often on the even of bellwether trials, there have not been any global deals that would resolve large numbers of cases, or provide compensation for individuals who have experienced male breast growth after using Risperdal.
As families and former users of the medication continue to learn about the potential link between Risperdal and breast growth they may have experienced since using the medication, it is likely the size of the litigation will continue to grow over the coming months and years.