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Risperdal: A Troublesome Antipsychotic Drug

Risperdal is the brand name for risperidone, a pharmaceutical drug that is made and sold by the Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, Ortho-McNeil-Janssen. The drug was first approved by the FDA in 1993 and is classified as an atypical antipsychotic that changes the effect of brain chemistry. It is designed to treat schizophrenia in adults and teenagers, and is employed to treat Bipolar I Disorder and autistic disorder in children. Doctors are known to prescribe Risperdal “off-label” (it was never approved, or tested by the FDA for this purpose) to treat behavioral disorders in elderly patients including dementia, and ADD in children.

Medical research has linked Risperdal to many negative side effects, including adolescent male breast enlargement, also known as gynecomastia. A study published in 2006 in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology states that the drug can “strongly increase prolactin levels, with clinical consequences such as gynecomastia.” To further complicate matters, Risperdal side effects include the risk of movement disorders (involuntary muscle movement), the potential for causing Type 2 diabetes, high blood sugar, and the elevated propensity for sudden cardiac death. Finally, the social and emotional effects of developing breasts as a male can lead to adverse mental health conditions.

Some Context…

The New York Times reported in November 2013 that Johnson & Johnson settled criminal and civil accusations claiming the company improperly marketed Risperdal to older adults, children, and people with developmental disabilities. The settlement amounted to over $2.2 billion and ranks as the third-largest pharmaceutical settlement in United States history.

Federal officials claimed that Johnson & Johnson knew that children faced health risks from the use of Risperdal — most importantly, the risk of breast development caused by elevated production of the hormone prolactin. Between 2000 and 2004, doctors prescribed Risperdal to boys who thereafter developed gynecomastia, despite there being no approval for using the drug to treat children.

Risperdal Lawsuit News

In 2012, a lawsuit brought by Aaron Banks settled as the Pennsylvania state court trial was about to begin. Banks alleged that he suffered mental trauma after taking Risperdal for five years – a period of time in which the drug was not even approved for use in children. His breasts were later surgically removed. As for the settlement, the terms are confidential.

More recently, Johnson & Johnson received an adverse verdict from a Philadelphia jury who found that the pharmaceutical company must pay $2.5 million in damages for failure to warn that Risperdal could cause gynecomastia. The family brought the product liability lawsuit when their autistic son took the drug in 2002 when he was eight years old, leading to him developing size 46DD breasts. Sales representatives marketing Risperdal approached the plaintiff’s pediatric neurologist at least 20 times.

South Carolina’s Supreme Court upheld a jury’s conclusions that Janssen, Johnson & Johnson’s subsidiary, had improperly marketed its antipsychotic drug Risperdal and concealed its risks. The penalty ordered amounted to $136 million, a sizeable reduction from an earlier trial court order requiring the company to pay $327 million.

Let Our Attorneys Help You Today

The world of pharmaceutical drugs is complex and challenging to navigate. Unfortunately, it is difficult to know of the potential side effects a drug may have, despite the best intentions of health care professionals. If you or a loved one has suffered adverse effects from Risperdal, or other pharmaceutical drugs, it is important that you contact an experienced personal injury Attorney immediately to review your case and discuss your options. The Fort Lauderdale attorneys at Boone & Davis are prepared to help you today.

Boone & Davis, Attorneys at Law is located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and serves clients in and around Hollywood, Fort Lauderdale, Dania, Pompano Beach, Deerfield Beach and Broward County.

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