Friday, January 8, 2010

Lawsuits filed over drug side effects

A Philadelphia law firm today said it filed 10 lawsuits on behalf of boys and young men who developed serious side effects - including the growth of breasts - while taking the antipsychotic medications Risperdal and Invega.

The suits were filed in Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. Lawyer Stephen Sheller said he expected to file an additional 20 to 30 similar cases in Philadelphia in the next two months. His firm also has 10 cases involving boys who took Risperdal and another medication pending in New Jersey.

The drugs in the Philadelphia cases are made by Janssen, a division of Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., which is part of Johnson & Johnson. All of the companies, which are named in the suits, are based in New Jersey, but Ortho-McNeil-Janssen is incorporated in Pennsylvania, Sheller said.

Only one of the plaintiffs, a young man who took Risperdal in his teens, is from Philadelphia. He could not be reached for comment. The suit says he experienced rapid weight gain and developed breasts that will require surgical removal. The side effects caused him to suffer "mental anguish" and "embarrassment," the suit said.

Sheller said some of his already-troubled clients grew significant bosoms, a fact their doctors may not have taken seriously enough because of the weight gain. "I would say 38D, some of them," Sheller said. "No boy wants to have a B cup, certainly not a D."

Janssen declined to comment. "We have not received details of the cases and are therefore unable to comment at this time," spokeswoman Kara Russell said.

The suits also named Excerpta Medica Inc., of Bridgewater, N.J., and its parent, Elsevier Science Publishing Co. Inc., of New York. Sheller said the companies were involved in publishing ghostwritten studies they should have known were misleading or exaggerated. An Elsevier spokesman said the company had not had time to evaluate the suits.


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