Risperdal is a drug that was first marketed and sold in the early 1990s by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. Since that time, J&J has been under fire for alleged illegal marketing practices, including claims of promoting the drug for off-label use. More recently, lawsuits have been piling up against the makers of Risperdal for allegations that it failed to warn consumers that the drug can cause gynecomastia, a condition in which young male users overdevelop breast tissue.
Here’s what you need to know about this potentially dangerous drug and the lawsuits that Johnson & Johnson faces.
What Is Risperdal?
Risperdal (generic name: risperidone) belongs in a class of atypical or second-generation antipsychotic drugs. It is typically prescribed to treat certain severe psychiatric conditions. Risperdal may be taken orally as a pill or a liquid, though injectable forms are available, as well. Some of the conditions that risperidone is used for may include the following:
- Bipolar disorder
- Autism-related behavioral issues and irritability in children aged five to 16 years old
One serious potential side effect of Risperdal is that it can cause an increase of a hormone called prolactin in the body. Since one of prolactin’s major roles in the female body is the creation of breast milk, it can lead to undesired lactation and other reproductive side effects. In the male body, increased prolactin can cause sexual dysfunction, an inability to create sperm, and breast enlargement.
Risperdal was first approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1993 to help treat schizophrenia in adults, and quickly gained additional approval for bipolar-related issues. Sales took off quickly; by 1996, over one million prescriptions had been written, and within a decade, it was making over $2 billion a year for its manufacturers. During this time, J&J repeatedly tried to have Risperdal approved for use in children and the elderly; the FDA denied these requests repeatedly, and warned the company about promoting Risperdal’s use by young people. Yet by the year 2000, over a fifth of Risperdal prescriptions were for children or adolescents, according to the New York Times.
In 2006, Johnson & Johnson finally received approval to market Risperdal for use by children.
Risperdal Lawsuit Timeline
In 2013, Johnson & Johnson agreed to a $2.2 billion settlement for accusations of false marketing, as well as paying kickbacks to physicians and to nursing homes to promote unapproved uses of Risperdal.
But the company’s legal problems with this drug were just beginning. One of the earliest Risperdal consumer lawsuits was filed against Johnson & Johnson in February of 2015, when a young man sued the company for failure to warn users of the drug about the risk of gynecomastia. The young man reportedly developed a breast size of 46 DD after taking the drug since he was a child, and the jury agreed, awarding him and his family $2.5 million dollars.
Johnson & Johnson lost another 2015 lawsuit in a South Carolina court when a jury found that the company was liable for misleading physicians about the risks of the drug, initially returning a verdict of $327 million. The judge later reduced the amount to $136 million.
Johnson & Johnson settled multiple cases in Philadelphia courts from 2012 onward. In November 2015, another Risperdal case went to jury, and the victim was awarded $1.75 million.
Shortly after these cases, a young man from Wisconsin who had been taking Risperdal filed a suit against Johnson & Johnson for gynecomastia; the jury agreed with this young man and granted a $500,000 award.
Last year, a $70 million award was granted to a Tennessee teenager who had developed gynecomastia, finding once more that the company never warned consumers about the risk.
To date, there are still thousands of Risperdal cases in which a settlement or a verdict has not been reached, and more continue to be filed as young men and their families seek financial relief from the medical bills, pain, and emotional distress caused by gynecomastia.
Get Help With Your Risperdal Case
Have you or your child suffered from male breast growth or other side effects after taking Risperdal? If so, you may be eligible to receive compensation from the manufacturer.
To speak to an attorney who will stand up for your rights against the greed of big pharmaceutical companies, reach out to Wayne Wright LLP today. We have years of experience helping victims of dangerous drugs get the compensation that they deserve. For a free, no-obligation consultation about your legal situation, call, email, or use the live chat box to contact us today.