In a drawn-out and highly publicized settlement, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals recently agreed to pay the government $2.2 billion for illegally marketing its anti-psychotic drug Risperdal. At the same time, a less-publicized but equally important lawsuit is being waged over Risperdal, and will be unaffected by the billion dollar settlement. Risperdal attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm remind the public that there are still dozens of cases pending against Janssen, filed by men who claim the drug caused them to grow breasts.
The healthcare giant started settling these cases in 2012, several just before they were scheduled to begin trial. The first plaintiff, Aaron Banks, was diagnosed with gynecomastia (abnormal breast tissue growth in men) after taking Risperdal for five years, beginning when he was only nine. Now 21, Banks claims he suffered severe psychological trauma from the defective design of the drug, which he also notes was not approved for use in children while he was taking it. He later underwent surgery to have the breasts removed.
Unfortunately, there are hundreds of male children experiencing the same issues with Risperdal, which was originally approved by the FDA only for treatment of schizophrenia in adults. Only later was it approved to treat bipolar disorder in adults and, finally, in 2006, irritability in autistic children. It was never approved to treat ADD, or any symptoms of dementia in the elderly, though J&J touted it for these conditions as well (which was the subject of the $2 billion suit).
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In November 2008 it was revealed that Risperdal stimulates the production of prolactin, the hormone involved in lactation and breast development, and to which children are particularly vulnerable. According to a study by Duke University, of all antipsychotic drugs, Risperdal had by far the strongest association to male breast growth in children and adolescents.
Despite these studies, J&J failed to update its labels to include this significant and debilitating risk, which is why the company is now facing over 100 lawsuits in the Pennsylvania Common Pleas Court. The original Risperdal labels also failed to note that patients should be tested for any increase in prolactin levels, which would increase the risk of adverse events.
Had Aaron Banks’ case been brought to trial, the CEO of J&J, Alex Gorsky, would have been called to the stand and asked to testify about Risperdal’s marketing tactics, which we now know were somewhat less than honorable. Gorsky was vice president of marketing at the time J&J was heavily advertising the drug, and was responsible for selling the antipsychotic, apparently under any means necessary.
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There is now a citizen’s petition circulating that asks the FDA to revoke its approval of Risperdal and its generic versions until adequate studies and trials are conducted on its safety. As of October 2012, five of the breast tissue lawsuits had settled, with hundreds more on the docket. None of the five settlements were made public, however, plaintiffs affirmed they were pleased with the results.
There are hundreds of other plaintiffs filing injury claims from Risperdal, alleging the medication cause various ailments such as heart disease and pneumonia, particularly in elderly patients with dementia. Risperdal is also linked to Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome, which can be fatal. It may also cause Tardive Dyskinesia, or birth defects in children born to mothers who took Risperdal while pregnant.
If you took Risperdal for uses not intended on its labels, or developed a serious ailment from the drug, contact our firm today to have any of your questions answered. Our team of Risperdal attorneys is currently reviewing and accepting cases of Risperdal injury nationwide, and our consultations are always free.