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Risperdal’s Health Risks: Fighting Back Against Misleading Medical Marketing

Risperdal is a FDA-approved medication used to treat disorders such as schizophrenia, autism and bipolar disorder. The drug is also commonly used for non-approved treatments of disorders ranging from dementia to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Recent alarming evidence of adverse side effects—including government warnings—has led to lawsuits filed against the drug’s manufacturer, Johnson & Johnson. Allegations have included failure to design and accurately test for safety, negligent contamination, promotion of the drug’s use in off-label treatments, concealment of research findings indicating serious side effects, and participation in generally misleading marketing efforts.

Studies have found that patients who take Risperdal run the risk of developing severe side effects and complications. Among others, complaints have been filed alleging that the drug contributed to the development of…

  • Gynecomastia, or the growth of breast tissue in young men
  • Movement disorders
  • Heart problems
  • Pituitary tumors and lactation
  • Diabetes

Many patients claim that these risks and others were not made clear by the manufacturer. Moreover, many hold that the company knowingly belittled or concealed many of these adverse side effects. One instance of the company’s misleading marketing techniques includes a ghostwriting campaign that promoted the drug for FDA-approved and off-label uses. The campaign was used to provide the appearance that third parties other than the manufacturer were endorsing the drug, despite the dangers associated with its use.

Risperdal and Children

Risperdal can be particularly dangerous for children, with symptoms including strokes, breast development in young boys, and lactation in young girls. Due to a lack of evidence supporting the safety of the drug for children, as well as the known adverse side effects, the FDA initially rejected Johnson & Johnson’s request to approve the use of Risperdal in pediatric medicine. Several lawsuits have been brought alleging that the company targeted pediatric patients in its marketing efforts at that time—despite the fact that it was not approved.

Currently, the FDA approves the drug for short-term use in treating children with certain disorders such as autism. Since Risperdal’s approval by the FDA, many patients and their parents have held that the company downplayed the risks of developing severe symptoms such as the development of breast tissue. This issue was recently litigated in 2014 in a case involving 77 plaintiffs.

Risperdal and the Elderly

Children aren’t the only patients to suffer due to misleading marketing efforts. In 2005, the USDA discovered a connection between Risperdal in elderly patients with dementia and an increased risk of death. The USDA has since issued a black-label warning noting that the drug is not approved for treatment in these patients. Older adults with dementia are also particularly susceptible to other adverse side effects, such as:

  • Strokes
  • Tremors
  • Neuroleptic malignant syndrome
  • Diabetes
  • Hyperglycemia
  • Weight gain
  • Dysphagia

While these symptoms are particularly common for elderly patients, they can affect anyone who is taking—or has taken—the medication. Patients who experience any of the symptoms listed above (or certain others) after taking Risperdal are advised to cease taking the medication immediately and promptly seek medical attention.

When Drug Companies Go Too Far

Because of the dangers associated with Risperdal, Johnson & Johnson has continually been involved in lawsuits alleging negligence and misleading marketing efforts. To date, the pharmaceutical giant has faced several multi-billion dollar settlements. Despite the backlash and the proven risks, the company’s earnings are high and patients are still unknowingly placed at risk for developing serious and life-altering complications.

Fighting Back

The crimes of large corporations can—and will continue to—cause patients to suffer until the consequences outweigh the financial gains. To hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for negligence, personal injury victims must speak up. If you have been prescribed Risperdal and have experienced adverse side effects, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, as well as pain and suffering damages, time spent away from work, and permanent disability. Those who have lost loved ones due to the use of Risperdal may also pursue a wrongful death claim.

The firm works with clients throughout the entire litigation process. To get started on your claim, gather your medical records and other related documentation and contact Wayne Wright LLP today.