Austin Pledger, 20, was awarded $2.5 million in damages after he grew size 46DD breasts because of an antipsychotic drug he was taking. The Philadelphia common pleas court said Pledger, who is autistic, “was not adequately warned” that a side effect of Risperdal would be breasts.
Pledger noticed some growth shortly after he started taking the medication in 2002 when he was eight years old.
Pledger’s mother, Benita, claims that her son struggled with self confidence and dealing with the gynecomastia. His lawyer, Thomas Kline told People, “The testimony of his mother before the jury is he would smash them on a table. And that when he gets out of the shower he covers himself in a towel before he looks at himself in a mirror.”
Risperdal has not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. However, according to Kline, the producer of the drug said that the chances of gynecomastia are low.
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While it had not been approved fully, the FDA did allow the use of the drug for schizophrenic children in 2006. They claim the side effects of male breasts were well known. However, Pledger’s mother claims that she did not know.
Pledger’s doctor, Jay Mathissen, also testified in court. He said he was also unaware that gynecomastia was a side effect.
Janssen Pharmaceuticals is a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. A spokesperson for the company said that they believe the “verdict should be overturned.”
Janssen Pharmaceuticals claims that the side effects are properly and clearly labeled and that the Pledger family knew the side effects.
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The company also said that Pledger’s, “quality of life was significantly improved during the time he was taking Risperdal.”
According to court documents, Pledger’s only option to remove the breasts is a mastectomy.
More than 1,200 cases concerning Risperdal have been filed in Philadelphia.