US drug giant Johnson & Johnson has reportedly settled the first of a stream of looming lawsuits claiming that its antipsychotic Risperdal caused the growth of breast tissue in males.
The suit, which was due to have its first day in a Philadelphia court yesterday, is the first of about 130 cases that allege the use of Risperdal led to the occurrence of gynecomastia - the abnormal development of large mammary glands in males, and that there were no warnings over this potential side effect on the product's label.
The plaintiff, 21-year-old Aaron Banks, alleged that he suffered psychological trauma after growing breasts while taking the drug over a four-year period when he was nine years old, at which time it was not approved for use in children in the US.
The size of the 'breasts' was allegedly to such an extent that Banks needed surgery to remove fatty tissue via suctioning, according to The Philadelphia Inquirer.
The publication claims that the financial settlement, the terms of which remain under wraps, came just as the judge was deciding whether J&J chief executive Alex Gorsky should be called to the stand to testify in the case.
Commenting on the suit, Bob Hilliard, one of Banks’s lawyers, told Bloomberg: “The billions J&J made had a terrible human cost. This drug caused female breasts to grow on little boys around the country. Their childhoods were stolen, but billions were made".
All eyes will now be on the second case in Philadelphia, which is reportedly set to kick off on September 20.
J&J is certainly taking a bit of a battering over one-time blockbuster Risperdal.
Last month, the firm's Janssen unit agreed to pay out $181 million to settle claims in 36 US states regarding illegal marketing practices for the drug, though it was stressed that the move was in no way an admission of wrongdoing, and various other cases are ongoing.