The popular antipsychotic Risperdal has been named in thousands of lawsuits throughout the country for a troubling side effect in young men. The drug, commonly prescribed to treat bipolar disorder, carries the risk of abnormal breast growth. Risperdal lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm explain these lawsuits and who may be eligible for compensation.
One of the most recent cases is being argued in Philadelphia court against Risperdal’s manufacturer, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, which is a unit of Johnson & Johnson. The victim in this case is a 20-year-old man with autism from Alabama, who took Risperdal to help the irritability caused by his autism. He began taking the drug as an eight-year-old boy, despite it only being approved for adults.
He and his family accuse Janssen of purposefully obscuring evidence that Risperdal caused certain hormones to spike – specifically, the growth hormone prolactin, which is responsible for the development of female breast tissue. They claim that Janssen failed to adequately warn both patients and physicians about the risks of abnormal breast growth (a condition medically referred to as gynecomastia).
At the time the eight-year-old boy was prescribed Risperdal, in 2002, it was approved only to treat adult psychotic conditions. In 2006, the FDA approved the drug to treat irritability in autistic children and adolescents. The company attempted to have Risperdal approved for children several times before this, but was rejected by the FDA over safety concerns.
To address this issue, the former FDA commissioner David Kessler is expected to take the stand in this case. Kessler is expected to testify about Janssen’s efforts to hide the risks of Risperdal from the public.
There are more than 1,250 Risperdal lawsuits pending in courts throughout the country, most of which related to abnormal breast growth in young men. Six of these cases have been selected as bellwether trials in 2012, however, Janssen agreed to settle these cases before they went before juries. Janssen agreed to settle another 80 cases in early 2013.
In November 2013, Janssen agreed to a $2.2 billion settlement with the federal government over false claims over Risperdal. The company pled guilty to illegally promoting Risperdal for off-label use in the elderly, such as those with dementia or Alzheimer’s in nursing homes. The illegal marketing took place over a decade, between 1993 and 2004, and led to regulation concerns in 36 states.
Janssen is accused not only of illegally marketing Risperdal, but also of paying doctors to speak favorably of the drug. The company paid for gold outings and other flashy incentives to get doctors to prescribe the drug to patients just like the eight-year-old in Alabama. Many of those boys taking Risperdal grew breasts and had to undergo mastectomies.
Janssen claims that Risperdal’s labels always included the risk of gynecomastia in adults, and notified physicians that it was not proven safe and effective for use in children. The company believes the doctor who prescribed Risperdal should be held at fault. The trial is expected to ask about three weeks.
Another drug similar to Risperdal, Invega, is also at the center of gynecomastia lawsuits. Invega is an antipsychotic drug also made by Janssen Pharmaceuticals. If you or someone close to you was prescribed Ripserdal or Invega and developed abnormal breasts, contact our firm immediately.
Our team of Risperdal lawyers is currently representing victims suffering from gynecomastia and their families. We provide free legal consultations to concerned victims nationwide, and we never charge any attorneys’ fees unless we are successful in your case.