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Gynecomastia Risperdal Plaintiff Wins First Lawsuit Outside Philadelphia Court

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Syracuse, NYA federal jury at the beginning of October found that Johnson & Johnson and Janssen, the Risperdal manufacturer, failed to warn about gynecomastia to doctors and patients and awarded a young man $1million.

Shaquil Byrd, a 24-year-old New Yorker, proved to a federal jury in Syracuse that Johnson & Johnson and its Janssen Pharmaceuticals subsidiary failed to provide adequate warnings of gynecomastia. Shortly after Byrd started taking Risperdal for mood disorders, at the age of nine, he developed excessive breast growth and he experienced lactation by the time he was 10. Byrd told the Times Union that his classmates teased and bullied him relentlessly. “They constantly asked me if I had milk. They did a thing called a 'scoop slam dunk' and that was when they basically cuffed my chest and slapped it down. They actually grabbed my chest.”

He had his breasts removed three years ago, but still continues to feel self-conscious. “It can really like mess up how you view yourself and how you view the world,” Byrd told WYNT News. Byrd’s attorney, Luke Malamood, accused the drug makers of hiding Risperdal's side effects from doctors. “Prescribing doctors with the best intentions aren't able to fully do their job and really consider the risks and benefits of a drug if they don't know accurately what the risks are,” said Malamood. Byrd’s lawsuit is the first outside of Philadelphia Courts that found in favor of the plaintiff. (Case No. 1:14-cv-00820)

Spokesperson for Janssen Pharmaceuticals Kelsey Buckholtz, told NYup.com that this verdict is not justified by the evidence. "Contrary to the impression the plaintiffs' attorneys have attempted to create over the course of this litigation, Risperdal is an important FDA-approved medicine that, when used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan, continues to help millions of patients with mental illnesses and neurodevelopmental conditions,” she said.

The Risperdal label was updated in October 2006 to state that 2.3 percent of male adolescents treated with the drug had developed gynecomastia. The label previously stated the condition was a rare side effect that had been seen in fewer than 1 in 1,000 patients. Byrd's attorneys argued that some of J&J’s own studies show at least 1 out of 20 children - or 4.8 percent of adolescents who take Risperdal can develop gynecomastia.

Johnson & Johnson reported $17 billion in profits on $72 billion in sales last year. Risperdal brought in sales of $3 billion a year in the early 2000s. In 2013, J&J agreed to pay $2.2 billion to settle civil and criminal charges with the Justice Department and 45 states. Justice accused the company of pushing Risperdal and two other drugs "for uses not approved as safe and effective by the FDA," including for autistic children and dementia patients, and paid "kickbacks" to doctors and pharmacy officials,” reported Philly.com(Oct. 20, 2017). The deal "allows us to move forward," the company said in 2013.

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