The lawsuit was filed by the parents of Andrew Yount, a boy who was born in 1998 and prescribed Risperdal in 2003 to treat ADHD and oppositional defiant disorder. One year later, he grew female breasts — a side effect known as gynecomastia.
It is the fifth lawsuit to reach trial and by far the largest jury award. The next-highest award is $2.5 million to an autistic boy from Alabama who grew size 46DD breasts on Risperdal.
Risperdal was only approved for adults with schizophrenia until 2006. In 2013, Janssen Pharmaceuticals paid $2.2 billion to end a Justice Department investigation into illegally marketing Risperdal “off-label” in kids, elderly adults, and disabled people from 1999-2005.
Janssen is now facing over 1,700 lawsuits in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. The company is accused of downplaying the risk of gynecomastia despite studies indicating that Risperdal boosted levels of prolactin, a hormone that stimulates breast growth and lactation.
Earlier this year, an investigation by NBC News highlighted Janssen’s mathematical sleight-of-hand to make it seem like only 0.8% of boys on Risperdal grew breasts, when the actual number was closer to 4.5%.
Janssen spokeswoman Kristina Chang said the verdict was “clearly excessive” and the company may appeal the decision.
According to the Legal Intelligencer, Yount’s doctors tried to switch him to another anti-psychotic medication but kept him on Risperdal because it was “the only thing that ever worked for him.”