Johnson & Johnson awarded $2.5 million to a 20-year-old autistic man from Alabama. The man reportedly grew 46DD breasts as a young teenager since the drug company failed to warn users of potential side effects from the antipsychotic drug Risperdal.
The man was awarded this week with the $2.5 million after a jury concluded that he “was not adequately warned” about the risks involved with taking the drug. The Alabama man, named Austin Pledger, was prescribed the antipsychotic drug, which is used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and irritability in people with autism. Austin steadily grew the breasts over time, and now has a 46DD breast size.
Pledger’s lawyer, Thomas Kline, said that his mother, Benita Pledger, testified in court about the breasts and the impact it made on her son’s life. It also affected him with his self confidence, according to a report on the Daily Mail. Though he has been growing breasts after taking Ripserdal in 2002 when he was eight years old, Pledger has not decided to have a mastectomy.
Since he took the drug for four years, he can remove the female-like breasts through a mastectomy, the court said. Risperdal was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1994 for the treatment of schizophrenia. It was also approved on the same day for the treatment of bipolar disorder in teens and children. In 2006, the FDA also approved the drug for the treatment of irritability in children and adolescents with autism.
This information conflicts with the Daily Mail report that says that the medication was never approved by the FDA. Risperdal has a label that warns about the risk of gynecomastia, a condition that causes men to grow female breasts. The label said that the affects were low. However, when the FDA approved of the use of the drug in 2006, they warned that Risperdal had high levels of prolactin, which is a hormone that promotes breast growth, according to Philly.com.
A spokesperson for drug manufacturer, Janssen, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, told People that the company is “disappointed” with the court’s decision. They’re considering several alternatives, including appeals.
“We firmly believe this verdict should be overturned. Risperdal has improved the lives of countless children and adults throughout the world.”
The drug company says that Risperdal includes the label detailing the possible side effects, and that Pledger’s physician should have been aware of them as well.
Pledger’s mother was not aware of the risks involved with the drug. Kline says, “She had no idea that it was associated with the growing of female breasts. Austin is among the most vulnerable and precious in our world.”
A commercial warning users about the effects of Risperdal has already aired on television. Kline said that Pledger’s case is one of the more than 1,200 filed over the drug in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Male patients who have taken Risperdal and have grown female-like breasts are urged to contact a medical attorney.
[Images: Housed/Wikimedia Commons]