Articles Posted in Gynecomastia

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Causation is usually simple: this happened because of that. The wheel fell off my bicycle, causing me to fall and break my arm. Legal causation is not so simple, and it can be very difficult to prove in a civil case. Legal causation or “proximate cause” involves an event (or thing) which is sufficiently related to an injury such that the cause of the event or thing is held legally liable for injuries sustained. It may not sound all that complicated, but millions of attorney hours are spent each year fighting over proximate cause. In fact, it’s one of the main reasons we have courthouses.

Young man Risperdal gynecomastia

Of all the bad drug results you read about, you would think proving legal causation in a Risperdal case would be straightforward: a boy with autism or psychological issues is prescribed Risperdal; after a period of months or years on the drug, he begins to grow female breasts, a condition known as gynecomastia. Boys should not grow female breasts. It is extremely rare for an adolescent boy not taking Risperdal to grow female breasts. And studies have shown that Risperdal can cause gynecomastia. Ergo (sorry, I’ve been wanting to get that word in a post), if a boy is taking Risperdal, and fifteen months later grows female breasts, it should follow that the Risperdal caused the gynecomastia. And that the manufacturers of the drug should pay for the physical injury, the emotional trauma, and any other suffering.

But it doesn’t always work that way. Two recent court cases involving boys injured after taking Risperdal yielded two very different results, and the takeaway is the importance of medical experts who can testify to the connection of the injury (gynecomastia) to the cause (taking Risperdal).

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Boy taking Risperdal

I have written on this site about the horrific side effects that some young men have suffered as a result of taking the antipsychotic drug Risperdal.  Check out my recent post on the subject for further information.

Risperdal was developed by Janssen Pharmaceuticals (a company owned by Johnson & Johnson) to treat symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.  Unfortunately, Risperdal has caused terrible side effects, including gynecomastia, which is the growth of female breasts on boys and young men.  As you can imagine, once this condition developed, and then developed again and again in many young men, it became clear that something was very wrong.

The lawsuits followed, over 5,000 so far, and more are being filed each week.

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This is the story of the lawsuit involving Austin Pledger, an autistic boy who grew large female breasts as a result of taking Johnson & Johnson’s antipsychotic drug Risperdal.

In most product liability cases, injured persons bring claims based on one of three legal theories: (1) a defect in manufacturing the product, (2) a defect in the design of the product, or (3) failure to warn the consumer of the potential for injury. It was for this last legal claim, the “failure to warn,” which attorneys for Austin Pledger and his family brought a legal action against Johnson & Johnson and Janssen Pharmaceuticals.

Austin Pledger and Risperdal

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Unless you do not own a television, you have likely seen the endless parade of commercials for drugs in this country. Apparently there is a medication that can fix any problem you have–hair loss, high cholesterol, even of course the dreaded erectile dysfunction. Drugs make corporations billions of dollars each year. If they didn’t you wouldn’t have to explain to your eight-year old why that couple on TV is lounging in two claw foot bath tubs on a mountaintop.

A major problem with a pharmaceutical industry that generates billions of dollars a year is that many corporations will do just about anything to get into that market and get a share of those drug profits. As a result, too often companies will rush a drug onto the market before it is fully tested, then market the drug aggressively, even for “off-label” uses, simply to increase profit margins. Even an established corporation like Johnson & Johnson is not immune. As reported by Stephen Brill, 91% of Johnson & Johnson profits derive from the sale of expensive medical devices like artificial hips and knees and pharmaceutical drug sales.

Risperdal is a prime example of a drug that generated billions of dollars in sales but also left thousands of people permanently disfigured or otherwise injured.