Johnson & Johnson’s anti-psychotic drug Risperdal (generic: risperidone) has earned the company billions of billions of dollars—but at what cost to patients and their families? Recently, it’s become clear that there may be a link between Risperdal and health complications, including a highly visible and embarrassing condition called gynecomastia. Here’s the truth about this drug and how it may be affecting you or someone you love, and how to seek compensation if drug-induced gynecomastia has hurt your family.
What Is Gynecomastia?
Gynecomastia is a disorder of the endocrine (hormone) system in the body. The chief symptom of gynecomastia is swelling and growth of true breast tissue (not fat) on the chest of the sufferer. Typically, gynecomastia happens on both sides on the chest, giving the appearance of breasts, though in rare cases it may be unilateral.
Those suffering from gynecomastia do not usually experience physical pain, but the chest area may be tender or sensitive to the touch. However, the impact of gynecomastia on the emotional health of young boys and teens can be devastating, leading to secondary problems such as:
- Social withdrawal and isolation
- Low self-esteem and body image issues
Though the condition may happen temporarily as a function of puberty in young boys as the body’s hormones change, the most concerning occurrences of gynecomastia are linked with the use of certain drugs that cause the body to produce an excess quantity of prolactin, a hormone with many roles in the reproductive system—including the production of milk in women. Excess prolactin in males is also known to lower testosterone levels in both men and women.
More and more evidence has been uncovered that ties the use of Risperdal to gynecomastia, especially in young boys, including one 2015 study showing that the risk of gynecomastia increases by five times in children and adolescents taking the drug.
What Is Risperdal Used For?
Risperdal is a potent and very popular drug used to treat certain severe mental health conditions, including schizophrenia. Some of the signs of schizophrenia in young children or adolescents can include:
- Developmental delays in language, crawling, or walking skills.
- Excessive rocking or other abnormal repetitive body movements.
- Social withdrawal.
- Trouble sleeping.
- Strange or unusual shifts in behavior.
- Visual or auditory hallucinations.
- Delusions or beliefs that are not based in reality.
Risperdal is also sometimes used to treat bipolar disorder or manic depression, as well as autism-related irritability in children.
More About Risperdal and Lawsuits
Created by Johnson & Johnson and marketed by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a wholly-owned J&J subsidiary, Risperdal was initially approved for schizophrenia in adults by the Food and Drug Administration in 1993. The company almost immediately began promoting off-label use in children and the elderly, despite the potential risks to these vulnerable populations. In fact, in 2013, Johnson & Johnson settled a lawsuit (without admitting guilt) over improper marketing and kickback schemes designed to increase Risperdal prescriptions to minors and people with developmental disabilities, costing the company $1.72 billion dollars and settling lawsuits in 45 states. The company also pled guilty to a criminal misdemeanor related to improper marketing to the elderly, bringing the total cost up to $2.2 billion.
Thousands more lawsuits over Risperdal still remain unresolved, as more young men and their families file suit against the company for gynecomastia-related issues, seeking compensation for medical treatments, including the cost of breast-reduction surgery. Families may also seek damages for pain and suffering, the emotional distress of male breast growth, or other related issues.
Get Legal Help Today
Have you or your loved one been affected by gynecomastia or other severe side effects after using Risperdal? Wayne Wright LLP is here to stand up for the rights of those who have suffered at the hands of greedy drug companies. Let us bring our years of legal experience helping victims of dangerous drugs and defective medical devices to your table, so that you can seek the money you’re owed. To arrange a free consultation with a legal professional about your situation, call us by phone, send an email using our contact form, or click the live chat box on this page right now.