Jury: Johnson & Johnson Failed to Warn About Risperdal’s Side Effects


An Alabama man who was harmed by taking the prescription drug Risperdal recently received a $2.5 million award from a Pennsylvania jury. The jury’s decision is a strong reminder that drug makers have a legal obligation to make and market products that are safe and effective and to warn consumers of risks associated with the drug.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the jury found that Johnson & Johnson, the manufacturer of Risperdal should compensate the 20-year-old autistic man who developed large breasts after being prescribed the antipsychotic drug as a child. The jury concluded that Johnson & Johnson had failed to adequately warn of the potential serious side effects of the drug.

It was the first Risperdal case involving the condition known as gynecomastia to be heard by a jury, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. Thousands of people have civil lawsuits pending against Johnson & Johnson, alleging serious harm from taking Risperdal.

Two years ago, Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay $2.2 billion in criminal and civil fines to settle charges and pleaded guilty to a criminal misdemeanor that it improperly marketed the drug to older adults for unapproved uses. The United States Attorney General said at that time that the drug maker’s reckless conduct put at risk the health of children, the elderly, and the disabled. The settlement with the government did not preclude individuals who have been injured by the drug from filing private personal injury lawsuits.

Risperdal has been associated with a number of serious side effects and health risks such as increased risk of stroke, increased risk of death among elderly dementia patients, diabetes, and other side effects.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Risperdal in 1993 for management of manifestations of psychiatric disorders such as hallucinations and delusions, the treatment of schizophrenia, and a year later for short-term treatment of acute mania. But Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (JPI), a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, sought to expand the market for the drug and began marketing the drug for treatment of agitation associated with dementia in the elderly.

The Justice Department alleged that Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary JPI were aware that Risperdal posed health risks for the elderly, including higher risk of stroke, but the companies downplayed the risks.

According to the FDA, JPI also marketed Risperdal for children with behavioral issues, despite health risks to children and adolescents. The drug was not approved for use in children for any purpose until 2006.

Janssen Pharmaceuticals had received repeated warnings from federal regulators regarding its misleading marketing messages to physicians. The company failed to disclose that studies suggested that teenagers who took they drug were at risk of gynecomastia.

When drug makers disregard the FDA’s requirements, they erode public trust and endanger the health of consumers who take their products, exposing them to potentially serious side effects.

People who are harmed by side effects of prescription drugs may have a legal right to seek compensation for their injuries. If you live in the Atlanta area and believe that you have been harmed by the side effects of a dangerous drug, discuss your concerns with a personal injury attorney at Millar & Mixon. We’ll evaluate your case and explain your legal options.