$500,000 verdict reached in Risperdal case

A young man who developed enlarged breasts as a side effect of taking the antipsychotic Risperdal has been awarded $500,000 by a jury.

Plaintiff Timonthy Stange says Janssen Pharmaceuticals failed to properly warn him and other consumers about side effects associated with the antipsychotic Risperdal. After taking the medication for three years to manage his Tourette syndrome, Stange developed gynecomastia.

His case, which was resolved Friday, is the fourth involving Risperdal to go to a verdict, and the first to be reached for an amount lower than $1 million. The damages were “modest,” Stange's attorney said, because they were primarily related to humiliation the condition caused him as a teenager. Stange was 11 when he began taking the drug, and developed gynecomastia one year later.

Stange's attorneys argued that Janssen Pharmaceuticals, which is owned by Johnson & Johnson, marketed the drug for off-label use in children despite a lack of FDA approval. Risperdal, which was designed to treat schizophrenia, has also been used off-label for long-term care residents with dementia.

Janssen has also faced claims that it hid information on Risperdal's potential to raise levels of the hormone prolactin, which causes breast growth. Research indicated the possible link between gynecomastia and Risperdal last year.

Johnson & Johnson reached a $2.2 billion settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice in 2013 over the push for off-label use of the drug in nursing homes.