Troy man who claims drugs produced female breasts wins lawsuit

October 04, 2017 11:45 PM

ALBANY -- 24-year-old Shaquil Byrd of Troy still gets self-conscious from time to time.

“You know thinking people are judging me,” Byrd said. “So it's still something I feel bad about.”

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As a 9-year-old boy, Byrd was diagnosed with psychosis and prescribed the drug, Risperdal. 

It treats different mood disorders.

Within months, he began growing female breasts, which is a rare condition. 

“Gynecomastia is a permanent condition and it involves the development of female breast tissue,” said Byrd’s attorney Luke Malamood. 

Byrd said his classmates teased him relentlessly. 

“It can really like mess up how you view yourself and how you view the world,” Byrd said. 

Byrd had his breasts removed three years ago.

Several months later, his family convinced him to sue the drug's manufacturers, Johnson and Johnson and Janssen Pharmaceuticals.

Malamood accused the drug makers of hiding Risperdal's side effects from doctors.

“Prescribing doctors with the best intentions aren't able to fully do their job and really consider the risks and benefits of a drug if they don't know accurately what the risks are,” Malamood said. 

Last week a federal jury in Syracuse ruled in Byrd's favor, awarding him one million dollars. 

Byrd's attorneys argued some of the company's own studies show at least 1 out of 20 children -- or 4.8 percent of adolescents who take Risperdal can develop gynecomastia. 

In a statement a spokesperson for Janssen said, “Contrary to the impression the plaintiffs’ attorneys have attempted to create over the course of this litigation, RISPERDAL® (risperidone) is an important FDA-approved medicine that, when used as part of a comprehensive treatment plan, continues to help millions of patients with mental illnesses and neurodevelopmental conditions.”

Byrd seeks therapy for depression and he is planning start college soon. 

He said testifying during the trial gave him closure and helped him develop self-love. 

“I feel like I have a new beginning like I can be who I am with caring about whose going to judge me,” Byrd said. 

There are thousands of similar lawsuits involving Risperdal nationwide. 

Many have been settled. 

Many others are still being litigated. 

Byrd’s case is the first outside of Philadelphia in which a decision has been reached in favor of the plaintiff.


Nia Hamm

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