May 29, 2014 — Lawyers for Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals unit are urging a Pennsylvania judge to throw out hundreds of lawsuits involving Risperdal (risperidone) because they say the statute of limitations has run out and plaintiffs are no longer eligible to seek damages for their injuries.
About 500 Risperdal lawsuits are pending in Pennsylvania’s Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. Defense attorneys are seeking a partial summary judgement to toss cases that are time-barred, asserting that they warned about the link between Risperdal and gynecomastia (male breast growth) on October 31, 2006.
Attorneys say that the “statute of limitations” began to run no later than that date. In cases where gynecomastia occurred before that date, attorneys allege that the statute of limitations begins on the date of injury.
If a judge agrees with defense attorneys, it is likely that many people who were seriously injured by Risperdal will be disqualified from pursuing damages. Every state has its own laws regarding the “statute of limitations,” but it is generally just a few years or as little as one year after an injury occurs.
The problem is that side effects like type-2 diabetes and gynecomastia do not happen overnight — they may take years to develop, but complications can be permanent.
Risperdal is a powerful anti-psychotic drug that was originally used to treat schizophrenia in adults. It was not approved for any uses in children until 2006. Last year, Johnson & Johnson and Janssen agreed to pay $2.2 billion to resolve civil and criminal investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice for illegally promoting Risperdal for use in children.
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