A Philadelphia jury found Friday that the antipsychotic drug Risperdal caused a Tennessee boy to grow breasts and imposed a $70 million verdict on its manufacturer, Janssen Pharmaceuticals.
Lawyers for the boy argued that scientists for the company were well aware of the risks and sought to downplay them. The company disputed that allegation during the Common Pleas Court trial and said that physicians were fully informed of potential side effects.
It was the fifth Risperdal lawsuit tried in Philadelphia, and by far the largest verdict so far. Earlier verdicts ranged from $500,000 to $2.2 million.
“The jury got angry at these people; they don’t take responsibility,” said Stephen Sheller, one of the boy’s lawyers.
Janssen, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, said in a statement that it would appeal, and disputed that the drug had caused the boy to develop breasts.
“We know that dealing with disorders of the brain is very difficult, and we sympathize with the plaintiff in this case and his family,” the statement said. “During the trial, the jury heard evidence that the FDA-approved label properly warned of Risperdal’s potential side effects, that the plaintiff’s physical condition was not caused by using the medication, and that the plaintiff benefited from using Risperdal.”
The company said millions of patients have been helped through treatment with Risperdal.
During the trial, the plaintiff’s lawyers contended that Janssen had manipulated study data showing that Risperdal was suspected of causing gynecomastia, the development of female breast tissue in young boys, to downplay the risks.