Who Can Make A Risperdal Claim?
A person would have a claim even without a diagnosis of gynecomastia if they took the brand name drug as a minor whereas they had not been indicated for it, meaning it was prescribed in an off-label manner, maybe for ADHD or something along those lines, They would also have been prescribed the medication for long term ingestion for bipolar or manic depression and then developed abnormal breast tissue.
A lot of people can tell just by looking at someone if a young man has grown abnormally large breasts. Someone who fit in this criteria would probably have a case. Cases that might be more difficult are cases which involve an adult who ingested the drug for an indicated purpose, meaning an adult with schizophrenia.
It could be argued that the risk of an adult male developing abnormal breast tissue, who could actually decide after considering the risks versus the benefits, can make the argument more difficult.
The Response From Johnson & Johnson Or Janssen To These Accusations
We know Johnson & Johnson settled some cases confidentially, although they have also tried a number of cases. There was a verdict from a young man from Alabama recently, and there have been a couple of good verdicts against the company in the past. I am sure there will be more to come.
The company is defending the drug and they are defending the drug’s warnings and doing, as a lot of these companies do, basically saying there was another cause for the gynecomastia that was not linked to Risperdal such as puberty. Sometimes they have even claimed that the child was just overweight.
How To Prove The Complications Were Caused By Risperdal
Obviously, we would want to start with the prescription records and confirm the brand name use of a drug. Then if the patient believed they had developed abnormally large breast tissue or they were lactating, then they should certainly see a physician.
They could start with their primary healthcare physician and then probably get a referral to a specialist who could perform blood testing, a mammogram, a CT, an MR and use many other different methods to diagnose the condition. All this can be a very traumatic experience for young boys.
Generic Versions Of Risperdal With Similar Side Effects Are Not Eligible For A Law Suit
As of right now the person would not have a case in the State of Alabama, because our product liability statute has been amended to bar such claims.
In a landmark decision a couple of years ago involving a girl called Bartlett, the Supreme Court basically said that because generic drug manufacturers have the duty of sameness, meaning their generic drug would have to be bioequivalent to the brand name, and their warnings would have to be identical to the brand name, they would not be able to control how the generic drug was designed or the warnings were drafted. They would have to be identical to the brand name manufacturer.
In this situation the generic drug manufacturer could not be held liable for a defectively designed drug or failure to warn.
Alabama had some interesting law that a person could hold the brand name manufacturer liable despite the fact they took the generic drug because ultimately the brand name would be responsible for the warnings and the design of the drug and then the generic drug manufacturer would just copy them.
Our product liability statute was amended this past legislative session and it just went into effect in early November. It now states that a person could only sue the manufacturer of the drug or device they purchased.
Right now generic manufacturers have more or less carte blanche immunity against lawsuits unless they did not really adhere to the warnings or their design differed substantially, which is something they do not do.
The problem is that when most people go to their doctors, they are prescribed a brand name drug, but when the person got to the pharmacy, their healthcare insurance provider might only fill generic which would not leave the person much choice. The person might literally be losing their rights to hold the company responsible for a bad drug in between the time the drug was prescribed and when the prescription was filled.
The Legislation Might Soon Change To Accommodate Generic Medications
I do think the legislation will change to accommodate generic medications. People are getting fed up with the current legislation and I think the FDA had already starting to look at this as early as last year.
Actually, we heard some rumors around last winter that the FDA was going to make some wholesale federal regulation changes as it relates to generics and their ability to be held responsible for bad drugs. It is time the rules changed because it is really bad news for ordinary people who do not know this and who really cannot do anything about it.
Types Of Damages Available To The Risperdal Plaintiff
A Risperdal plaintiff could claim financial damages, because that is really all the civil justice system could afford us, although the money damages would basically be twofold; compensatory damages and punitive damages.
Compensatory damages would include the costs of treatment such as surgical treatment, or there might even be some lifelong treatment that might be associated with the treatment for gynecomastia. There would then be the noneconomic or hard damages or specials like pain and suffering and things of that nature.
As far as the punitive damages are concerned, we would need to be able to show that Janssen Pharmaceuticals acted recklessly with this drug. We would want to show that they knew or should have known that the warnings were insufficient to put people on notice of gynecomastia, and that their off-label promotion was causing prescriptions to be written for people who were not actually indicated for the drug.
We would essentially need to be able to convince a jury that the drug company needed to be punished and prevented, meaning a message should be sent that they should not act this way in the future, because this is bad conduct.
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