Over the past year, three separate cases have been tried in Pennsylvania state court regarding claims that a Johnson & Johnson unit failed to provide adequate warnings about the risks associated with the antipsychotic drug, Risperdal. Now, Jason Itkin is representing his client, N.M., in the fourth. Yesterday, Attorney Itkin opened his case in Philadelphia County’s Court of Common Pleas.
N.M. suffers from a condition known as gynecomastia, which has caused the adolescent boy to develop breasts. Itkin aims to prove that his client’s condition is a direct result of taking Risperdal for five years to treat symptoms associated with Asperger’s syndrome. When N.M. began taking Risperdal in 2003, the drug had only been approved for treating schizophrenia in adults.
“What you have in this case at the end of the day is N.M., a sweet kid, with gynecomastia,” explains Itkin. “You’ve got a mother who was never told that the medicine she gave her son would cause him to grow breasts.” Although the warning label indicated that gynecomastia was a rare side effect occurring in less than one in every 1,000 patients, scientific evidence showed otherwise.
Itkin explained that, at the time, scientists working for Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. knew that Risperdal was associated with spikes in a hormone known as prolactin—which could ultimately result in the development of gynecomastia. These studies showed a statistically significant number of adolescent males developing this condition while taking Risperdal, but still, the FDA was left in the dark.
Attorney Itkin further explained that “drug companies must truthfully and accurately inform about the side effects of their medicines, and in this case, Janssen Pharmaceuticals did not warn [the client’s mother] that their drug Risperdal could cause N.M. to grow female breasts.” It is for this reason that he is seeking to hold the company accountable in the fourth Risperdal-related case to go to trial this year.
Currently, there are about 1,500 Risperdal cases pending as part of a mass tort docket in Philadelphia County. If you too have been injured by this drug, please contact Arnold & Itkin today.