SOUTHFIELD, Mich. — In yet another blow to Johnson & Johnson, the consumer healthcare giant was ordered earlier this month to pay a record-setting jury verdict to the family of a boy who developed breasts after taking the antipsychotic drug Risperdal.
A Philadelphia jury awarded Andrew Yount $70 million in damages for physical disfigurement and emotional distress related to breast growth in connection with taking Risperdal, beginning at age 5.
The verdict, announced July 1, was the largest Risperdal-related jury award against J&J, dwarfing the $2.5 million awarded last year to an Alabama man, who sued the company after he reportedly grew size 46 DD breasts.
It marked the fifth lawsuit to reach trial, and could signal a trend of unprecedented verdicts yet to come against Johnson & Johnson for intentionally falsifying, concealing or destroying material evidence.
In all five Risperdal-related cases, juries found the drug caused the condition, known as gynecomastia, and that Janssen Pharmaceutical, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, failed to warn patients and doctors about the risks.
“We’re proud that a family from a little town in Tennessee was able to stand up against one of the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies and hold them accountable for the harm they have caused,” Andrew’s father, Terry Yount, said in a statement.
The unprecedented verdict comes on the heels of news that Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos — filmmaker’s of last year’s popular crime documentary “Making A Murderer” — have chosen J&J as the subject of their next project.
According to multiple reports, the made-for-TV project will highlight the controversy surrounding Johnson & Johnson, who pushed Risperdal on elderly patients and children. The healthcare titan agreed to pay more than $2 billion in penalties and settlements, but made a reported $30 billion in sales of the drug worldwide.
Since approving Risperdal for adolescent use, hundreds of cases of gynecomastia have been reported, according to DrugLawSuitSource.com. In clinical trials of 1,885 children taking the controversial drug, 43 boys developed enlarged breasts, and — in some cases — breast development reached the size of D cups.
“We are glad that Andrew’s suffering now stands for something,” Yount said. “We hope this verdict gives hope to the thousands of other boys who were disfigured by Risperdal that they will get justice, too.”
There are reportedly 1,500-plus Risperdal cases still awaiting trials in Philadelphia, and tens of thousands of cases have yet to be filed.