Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson has been bleeding out money in the last three years litigating and settling claims made against it in regards to Risperdal. The antipsychotic drug is responsible for triggering disfiguring gynecomastia (breast development) in young boys.
Risperdal is a prescription antipsychotic drug that is often prescribed by health professionals to patients suffering with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. However, the publication of a research study in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology indicated that the generic version of Risperdal, risperidone, caused an increase in the levels of prolactin in the body. This results in the development of breasts in boys.
Following the publication of the study, the FDA released warnings on the increased health risks associated with taking the drug in elderly patients suffering with psychosis related to dementia. Other warnings against the drug included the risk of death in elderly patients as well as the development of abnormal shoulder, facial and limb movements beyond the control of patients.
Big claim settlements
The side effects of Risperdal have landed Johnson and Johnson with over 1,500 law suits over the last three years. Many of which have resulted in large settlements.
The consumer products company markets the products through its subsidiary, Janssen. However, Janssen did not receive approval to market Risperdal to minors. In addition to this, the company was aware that the drug caused the development of breasts in boys 6 years prior to changing the drug’s labels. Johnson & Johnson is alleged to have concealed the side effects from healthcare professionals and consumers according to the testimony given by former FDA commissioner, David Kessler.
Three trials have seen Johnson and Johnson lose $500,000, $2.5 million and $1.75 million in compensation for damages as a result of not providing adequate warning on the risks of taking the drug. In November 2013, Johnson & Johnson paid over $2.2 billion in civil and criminal fines.
The company has also suffered big hits resulting from marketing claims. It has been hit with $158 million, $124 million and $180 million settlements for marketing claims in Texas, South Carolina and the District of Columbia respectively.
These developments may have a great impact on how the lawsuits currently pending against the company will be decided. There are over 2,000 cases that have been filed in Philadelphia. In addition, the 16,000 cases filed in California are being consolidated and will be brought before the Los Angeles courts in July next year.