September 11, 2012 — Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has agreed to settle a lawsuit filed by a young man who suffered from gynecomastia (growth of male breast tissue) after taking the powerful antipsychotic medication Risperdal as a child. The plaintiff, Aron Banks, required surgery to suction fat from his chest to reduce the gynecomastia. As a condition of the agreement, the amount of the settlement will remain confidential.
Mr. Banks used Risperdal when he was between the ages of nine and 13 years old, from 1999 until 2004. His attorney stated to Bloomberg News, “This drug caused female breasts to grow on little boys around the country. Their childhoods were stolen, but billions were made.”
J&J is currently in the midst of a massive litigation involving Risperdal. There are an additional 420 Risperdal lawsuits pending in courtrooms around the United States. Of these, about 130 involve claims that Risperdal caused gynecomastia in young boys who were using the medication off-label. The next Risperdal gynecomastia lawsuit is scheduled to begin September 20, 2012 in Philadelphia.
J&J has already been forced to pay billions to settle government lawsuits at federal and state levels. The company has been accused of engaging in off-label marketing of Risperdal toward children with Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which was never approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Research has linked the use of Risperdal in children to severe weight gain, gynecomastia, diabetes, drowsiness, and severe withdrawal.
Other government lawsuits involving Risperdal have also settled recently. The U.S. Justice Department ordered J&J to pay $2.2 billion to settle claims of illegal marketing practices, including creating a pay-off program for nursing-home companies that prescribed Risperdal to their patients. J&J has also paid hundreds of millions to settle lawsuits from 36 states’ Attorney General offices alleging that the company defrauded taxpayers through the Medicare system.
Risperdal is a medication used to treat psychotic disorders. It was approved by the FDA in 2003 for the treatment of schizophrenia in adults, and later approved for other uses. However, Risperdal was never approved for use in children.
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