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Litigation against Johnson & Johnson over failure to warn about the breast growth side effects of Risperdal have continued to grow rapidly over the past year, with the number of cases filed on behalf of boys and young men diagnosed with gynecomastia more than doubling in the first half of 2017, and on pace to triple before the end of the year.
There are more than 5,800 Risperdal lawsuits pending in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas involving claims that boys developed full breasts after using the controversial antipsychotic medication, typically resulting in the need for breast removal surgery. However, there were only about 2,000 cases pending at the beginning of the year, according to a report by The Legal Intelligencer.
Lawsuits over the Risperdal gynecomastia problems have been pending for several years, but as more families learn that the drug may have caused breast growth side effects experienced by boys nationwide, additional cases continue to be filed by individuals nationwide.
While there are also cases pending in various other state courts, most of the litigation is centralized in Philadelphia, where the state court litigation is being handled as part of a mass tort proceeding, since each claim raises similar questions or fact and law.
Over the past two years, a number of cases have resulted in massive verdicts after juries found that the drug maker withheld information from users and the medical community about the risk of gynecomastia from Risperdal, which often results in the need for surgical breast removal.
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. Two other cases, one in late 2016 and one in April of this year, were dismissed.
Additional bellwether cases are expected to go to trial in Philadelphia, which are designed to help the parties gauge how juries may respond to certain evidence and testimony that is likely to be repeated throughout the litigation.
While the drug maker has reached some Risperdal 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.