The Supreme Court has spoken: A jury’s $70 million award to a man who developed gynecomastia while taking Risperdal as a child will stand. Johnson & Johnson took the case to the highest court in the land after losing the initial case and an appeal.
The case was brought by Adam Yount. Yount was put on Risperdal at age four and began developing breast tissue by age five. According to Johnson & Johnson, his doctor took him off the medication once symptoms developed but he was put back on it at his mother’s request. The prescription was an off-label use of the drug since Risperdal hadn’t been approved by the FDA for use in children at the time. The result was that the labeling made no mention of the risk of gynecomastia in children.
Further complicating the matter is the fact that, according to the initial case filed in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas in 2016, Johnson & Johnson “intentionally falsified, destroyed or concealed evidence” relating to the risks of gynecomastia when taking Risperdal. The jury awarded Yount $70 million as a result, which was upheld on appeal to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania.
Yount’s case is far from the only one seeking compensation from Johnson & Johnson over the psychological turmoil that comes from developing breasts as school-aged males. Some 10,000 additional lawsuits are still pending, and juries have not been kind to the pharmaceutical giant. One case resulted in an initial $8 billion jury verdict. And, while the amount was later taken down to just $6.8 million, the multi-billion-dollar verdict sent J&J’s stock price down nearly two and a half percentage points when it was first read.
With another Risperdal case now ending in the plaintiff’s favor – even on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court – Johnson & Johnson might have a long road ahead of it in the matter.