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The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to consider an appeal filed by Johnson & Johnson over a $70 million verdict for failing to warn about that side effects of Risperdal may cause male breast growth, meaning the judgment will stand.
In July 2016, a Philadelphia jury ordered Johnson & Johnson and its Janssen subsidiary to pay the family of Andrew Yount $70 million, after use of the atypical antipsychotic medication Risperdal as a five-year-old boy resulted in the development of a rare medical condition, known as gynecomastia.
Johnson & Johnson has faced thousands of Risperdal lawsuits brought by young men and families of minor boys who developed full breast growth after taking the medication, often resulting in devastating psychological consequences and the need for surgery to correct the problem.
After a Philadelphia appeals court upheld the ruling, and the state’s highest court rejected an attempt to overturn the verdict, Johnson & Johnson petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the case.
In a docket entry posted on May 17, the Supreme Court denied the petition for review, noting that Justice Samuel Alito took no part in the consideration or decision on the petition.
At the time Yount was prescribed the drug, in 2003, it had not yet been approved for use in children, but was prescribed to him “off label.” The lawsuit alleged that there should have been a warning of the risk of gynecomastia, which did not appear on the drug until the FDA approved it for pediatric use in 2006. However, even before then, up to a third of all Risperdal prescriptions were “off label” for children.
Since the verdict in this case and other early bellwether trials, Johnson & Johnson has negotiated Risperdal settlements to resolve thousands of claims brought by individuals nationwide. However, a number of cases are still pending and expected to go before juries in the next few years.