Earlier this month, a jury in Pennsylvania delivered the largest verdict yet against the maker of Risperdal, an antipsychotic medication. A jury awarded a family $70 million as compensation for devastating drug side effects suffered by their son. According to media reports, this is the fifth such lawsuit in Philadelphia, but by far the largest verdict, against Janssen, the manufacturer of Risperdal.
The plaintiff in the lawsuit, a boy who lived in Tennessee, grew large breasts as a result of taking the drug. The condition he suffered from is called gynecomastia, which is a known possible side effect of Risperdal. In marketing the drug and in Janssen’s defense in court, the manufacturer downplayed this side effect – but as this family can tell you, it is an incredibly difficult ordeal for those who develop it.
Risperdal is used in some patients to treat psychiatric disorders. In 2002, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved it for use for those who suffered from schizophrenia. In 2003, the FDA approved Risperdal for treatment of manic episodes of bipolar disorder. Since those are limited uses confined to small populations, the company began seeking more ways to market the drug.