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Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) Hid Risks Risperdal Makes Boys' Breasts Grow: Lawyer



9/25/2012 7:53:20 AM

Philadelphia, PA (PRWEB) September 24, 2012 -- A boy prescribed the Johnson & Johnson (J&J) antipsychotic drug Risperdal from ages nine to thirteen grew breasts that required liposuction surgery. Aron Banks, now 21 years old, filed a lawsuit that went to trial earlier this month as the first of hundreds to be heard alleging that Risperdal caused a condition called gynecomastia.(1)

After selecting a jury in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas courtroom presided over by Judge George W. Overton, a preliminary motion by the drug company to suppress a subpoena requiring testimony by newly-appointed J&J CEO Alex Gorsky may have prompted settlement negotiations by the company. A short time later, the confidential settlement had been reached.

“The case resolved and the client is satisfied,” said one of Banks’ attorneys from Sheller, P.C. Stephen A. Sheller in an interview with Bloomberg Business Week.(2)

Sheller’s firm represents over 100 boys and young men with gynecomastia and other injuries suing J&J, with additional trials scheduled this fall.(3)

According to a Philadelphia Inquirer reporter (4) a recent deposition of CEO Gorsky by Brian J. McCormick, Jr., another of the boy’s attorneys from Sheller, sheds light on the company’s strategy to increase sales of the antipsychotic drug for children.

The Sheller, P.C. law firm has produced a video to explain the facts of their Risperdal cases.

In the second trial starting today, September 24, 2012 Sheller attorneys filed the lawsuit on behalf of the parents of a 17 year old boy who started the drug at age 5 and by 12 had begun to develop breasts.(5) The court ruled Gorsky didn’t have to appear at this trial but plaintiff’s attorneys plan to show video excerpts of an extensive, seven hour deposition of the J&J CEO.(6) University of Michigan professor Erik Gordon said in an interview with Bloomberg “sooner or later, Mr. Gorsky is going to be compelled to take the witness stand in front of jurors and be cross-examined . . . unless he orders J&J to settle these cases to avoid that risk.”(6)

Risperdal had been a profit center for the drug company with global sales peaking at $4.5 billion as its top seller in 2007 according to Bloomberg reports.(2) Revenues declined after the company lost patent protection but were still $3.4 billion in 2008 down to $427 million in 2010.

In the past several years, J&J has had a number of legal challenges involving Risperdal. The New York Times reported last month that J&J agreed to pay $181 million to resolve claims by 36 states and the District of Columbia for promoting the drug and the similar formulation Invega for unapproved uses.(7) Previously, juries in Arkansas ($1.2 billion), Louisiana ($258 million) and South Carolina ($327 million) decided that J&J illegally marketed Risperdal.(8,9,10)

Sheller attorney McCormick told LexisNexis Law360, “I believe the possibility of more evidence of off-label marketing and improper conduct by Johnson & Johnson had something to do with the (Banks) settlement.”(11)

A spokesperson for the pharmaceutical company told the Philadelphia Inquirer that Risperdal, manufactured by J&J subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals, “has and continues to improve the lives of countless people throughout the world who suffer from debilitating mental illness.”(12)

About Sheller. P.C.

Sheller, P.C. represents plaintiffs injured by drugs and whistleblowers reporting pharmaceutical industry wrongdoing. The firm's defective drug and medical device attorneys are currently litigating cases involving J&J’s DePuy metal on metal hip implant injuries (13), J&J’s antibiotic Levaquin and ruptured tendons (14), and a Bristol Myers Squibb investigational hepatitis C drug that resulted in the death of one and hospitalization of seven other research subjects.(15) Other matters detailed on Sheller.com are under investigation.

In practice since 1977, Sheller, P.C. has challenged some of the largest corporations in the country including tobacco, auto, and drug and medical device manufacturers. As counsel in three of the largest whistleblower settlements in U.S. history totaling over $4.2 billion (16,17,18), the Sheller whistleblower leadership team continues to represent whistleblowers in other cases across the country.

(1) Banks v. Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, January Term 2010, No. 00618

(2) Bloomberg “J&J Settles Risperdal Lawsuit on Opening Day of Trial” September 10, 2012

(3) Forbes “J&J Sees Male Breasts and Quickly Settles Risperdal Suit” September 11, 2012

(4) Philadelphia Inquirer “Philly Pharma” blog “J&J Alex Gorsky talks Risperdal, via deposition, with lawyers nearby” September 17, 2012

(5) AB, a minor v. Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, January Term 2010, No. 00649

(6) Bloomberg “J&J CEO Should Be Forced to Testify, Teen’s Lawyers Say” September 18, 2012

(7) New York Times “Johnson and Johnson Unit Settles State Cases Over Risperdal” August 31, 2012

(8) State of Arkansas v. Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., CV07-15345, Pulaski County Circuit Court (Little Rock) Arkansas

(9) Caldwell ex rel. State of Louisiana v. Janssen Pharmaceutical, 04-C-3967, 27th Judicial Court, St. Landry Parish, Louisiana (Opelousas)

(10) State of South Carolina v. Janssen Pharmaceuticals, 2007-CP-4201438, Circuit Court for Spartanburg County, South Carolina (Spartanburg)

(11) Law360/LexisNexis “J&J Settles Pa. Risperdal Lawsuit on Opening Day of Trial” September 10, 2012

(12) Philadelphia Inquirer “Johnson and Johnson settles Risperdal side effect lawsuit” September 11, 2012

(13) Fay Dorney-Madigtz and plaintiffs v. DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc., Depuy, Inc., Johnson & Johnson Services, Inc., and Johnson and Johnson, Inc., U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, 5:11-cv-00124-RBS

(14) The Legal Intelligencer “First Levaquin Test Case Results in Seven-Figure Award” December 13, 2010

(15) Janet Schaefer Vella et al v. Bristol-Myers Squibb, Inhibitex, Inc., and Alamo Medical Research, Cause No. 2012-CCV-61640-4, Nueces County, TX

(16) United States, ex. rel. James Wetta, et al. v. AstraZeneca Corp., No. 04-0379 (E.D. Pa.)

(17) United States, ex. rel. Ronald Rainero, et al. v. Pfizer, Inc., No. 07-11728 (D. Mass.)

(18) United States, ex. rel. Robert Rudolph, et al. v. Eli Lilly and Company, No. 03-943 (E.D. Pa.)


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