Johnson & Johnson has yet to settle its Invega lawsuits, so it’s impossible to say for sure what sort of relief plaintiffs might receive.
But Invega is almost chemically identical to its predecessor, Risperdal. That means Risperdal settlements establish a precedent that can give us a rough idea of what to expect from Invega settlements. (J&J developed Invega to replace Risperdal because the patent protection on Risperdal expired in 2003.)
From the following Risperdal settlements, we know that young boys who develop female breast tissue (gynecomastia) from antipsychotic medications like Invega could be in line for millions of dollars.
As recently as November 2016, Johnson & Johnson was still settling Risperdal lawsuits for undisclosed amounts.
Banks et al v. Johnson & Johnson (2012)
Aron Banks was prescribed Risperdal off-label at age nine: the drug caused him to grow breasts so large, they had to be surgically removed. He was the first Risperdal plaintiff whose case went to trial. After just one day in court, Johnson & Johnson saw the writing on the wall and settled Mr. Banks’ case for an undisclosed amount.
There were five more cases to follow Mr. Banks’, which were considered bellwethers. J&J reached undisclosed settlements for all five.
77 Plaintiffs v. Johnson & Johnson (2013)
In January 2013, Johnson & Johnson reached undisclosed settlements with 77 more plaintiffs who had filed lawsuits over Risperdal side effects. Later that year, the plaintiffs filed a motion to enforce that settlement, claiming that J&J had not honored its terms and had no intention of doing so. (There have been no updates to this story for the past three and a half years.)
Pledger v. Johnson & Johnson (2015)
In 2002, Austin Pledger, an autistic boy from Alabama, grew breasts after taking Risperdal—which was prescribed to him off-label. (The FDA didn’t approve Risperdal for use by children until 2006.) Mr. Pledger’s peers ridiculed him for his breasts, which eventually grew to be size 46DD.
Mr. Pledger (now 22) filed a lawsuit against J&J to hold them accountable for their egregious concealment of Risperdal’s potential side effects. In February 2015, a Philadelphia jury sided with Mr. Pledger, awarding him $2.5 million in damages.
During the trial, former FDA chief David Kessler testified that J&J knew as early as 2001 that Risperdal could cause gynecomastia in as many as 5.5% of Risperdal users. But the company did not add a warning to the drug’s label until five years later, in 2006.
Murray v. Johnson & Johnson (2015)
Nicholas Murray (now 22) was prescribed Risperdal off-label from 2003 to 2008 for symptoms related to his autism. As with Mr. Pledger and countless others, the drug caused him to develop gynecomastia. Even after he stopped taking the drug, Mr. Murray’s breasts remained.
In November 2015, a Philadelphia jury ruled against J&J once again, this time in favor of Nicholas Murray. After just two hours of deliberations, they awarded Mr. Murray $1.75 million in damages.
Strange v. Johnson & Johnson (2015)
In December 2015, yet another jury ruled against J&J. This time the plaintiff was a Wisconsin man named Timothy Strange who was prescribed Risperdal as an adolescent (in 2006) to treat symptoms of Tourette syndrome. The jury awarded Mr. Strange $500,000 for J&J’s failure to warn him of the sizable risks involved in taking Risperdal.
Yount v. Johnson & Johnson (2016)
In July 2016, a Philadelphia jury awarded Andrew Yount a staggering $70 million, ruling not only that J&J had failed to warn Mr. Yount of the risks in taking Risperdal, but that the company had concealed or destroyed evidence related to the case.
Mr. Yount, of Tennessee, started taking Risperdal when he was just five years old. He too developed gynecomastia.
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