It is often difficult for patients who have been injured by a drug to prove that their injuries were caused by the drug itself. Many dangerous pharmaceuticals can lead to heart attacks, strokes and similarly serious medical conditions, but proving causation is typically a challenge for anyone pursuing a products liability lawsuit against a drug manufacturer.
A recent set of lawsuits is different, however. In these cases, the potential side effect is very visible and very unlikely to occur naturally. The dangerous drug in question is Risperdal, which is manufactured by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary. The side effect alleged is the development of giant breasts in males who have taken the drug.
Risperdal has long been the subject of another controversy involving illegal, off-label marketing. Johnson & Johnson aggressively marketed the antipsychotic drug for the treatment of autism (and other conditions) in children and dementia in the elderly. The criminal fines paid by J&J have been miniscule compared to the profits it has reaped by pushing for more Risperdal prescriptions among these two age groups.
Now, men here in California and around the country have been filing lawsuits alleging that Risperdal can also lead to a condition known as gynecomastia, which is the development of female breast tissue in males. It is believed that Risperdal causes the condition by elevating levels of the hormone prolactin.
One of the plaintiffs, who began taking Risperdal as a teenager (to treat mood swings) later developed breasts that were size 46 DD. His was one of several Risperdal cases to go to trial in Pennsylvania in 2015. He was awarded $2.5 million by a jury.
When pharmaceutical manufacturers fail to adequately warn patients of side effects and other dangers, they can be held liable in court. Although this process can be lengthy and frustrating, it is often the best way for injured patients to seek justice and compensation.