That was when Risperdal plaintiff Austin Pledger, now 22, was awarded $2.5 million over Risperdal side effects that resulted in the young man, who is autistic, growing male breasts.
According to People (02/26/15), Pledger was prescribed Risperdal for his autism at age 8 in 2002. That was four years before Risperdal was formally approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in children and adolescents.
However, since doctors have the legal, medical and ethical authority to prescribe drugs off-label (in other words, for uses other than those indications sanctioned by the FDA), it was perfectly within the doctor’s purview to prescribe Risperdal to the then-eight-year-old Pledger if the physician felt risperidone (Risperdal) would benefit his patient.
Risperdal and growing male breasts became a serious issue for the autistic Pledger. The Risperdal gynecomastia breasts were large – reported by People to be 46DD – and Pledger, in frustration, was known to smash his breasts on a table causing bruising,
according to testimony given by Pledger’s mother during the trial in the family’s Risperdal lawsuit. Benita Pledger also testified that her son would habitually cover himself with a large towel when he stepped from the shower, before he could bring himself to stand in front of the bathroom mirror.
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However the family’s physician testified at trial that he was unaware of Risperdal side effects that would lead to male breast growth. Benita Pledger also testified she was also unaware of the risk for Risperdal gynecomastia. Her son faced the potential for a double mastectomy in order to rid himself of his substantial male breasts.
Janssen appealed the verdict and sought a new trial in the case. However, their motions were denied, with a judge in State court in Pennsylvania upholding the original verdict and the $2.5 million award for the Alabama family.
The Risperdal lawsuit was PP et al v. Janssen et al, IN RE: Risperdal Litigation, Case No. 120401997, in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas, Trial Division.