Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors | Last reviewed December 03, 2018
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Q: What is Risperdal?
A: Risperdal is in a class of medications called atypical antipsychotics. Antipsychotic medicines are used to treat symptoms of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and autism.
Risperdal -- the brand name for the generic drug risperidrone -- was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1994. It is a "second-generation" drug made and sold by Johnson & Johnson that earned the company billions of dollars in sales before generic versions became available.
Q: Are there any serious health risks associated with Risperdal?
A: Risperdal and other antipsychotic medications can cause serious problems including Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome (NMS), a life-threatening nervous system problem; Tardive Dyskinesia (TD),a movement problem; high blood sugar and diabetes; and strokes in older patients treated for mental illness from dementia.
Other serious risks from Risperdal use may include low blood pressure (seen as dizziness and possible fainting), increased heartbeat, seizures, persistent erection, and thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (seen as fever and bruising).
Q: What are the most common side effects associated with Risperdal?
A: The most common side effects from Risperdal use include anxiety, uncontrolled movements, constipation, nausea, upset stomach, runny nose, rash, vision changes, saliva increase, abdominal pain, inability to control urination, and weight gain.
That said, likely the most widely-reported side effect of Risperdal has occurred in young men and boys. It is a condition called gynecomastia, or the enlargement of male breast tissue. The growth of male breasts can be painful, cause severe embarrassment, and lasting psycho-social harm.
Boys and young men who have developed gynecomastia may experience pain or nipple discharge. Lawsuits have alleged that Risperdal increases levels of prolactin, a hormone which stimulates breast development in women. Surgery may be required to correct the condition.
Q: Have there been any recent lawsuits filed over Risperdal?
A: There has been a flurry of Risperdal lawsuits, verdicts, and state fines in recent years. In 2012, an Arkansas jury determined that Johnson & Johnson downplayed and hid risks associated with Risperdal. The trial judge ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay more than $1.2 billion in fines for nearly 240,000 violations of the state's Medicaid fraud law and $11 million for more than 4,500 violations of the state’s deceptive practices laws.
Similar fines, lawsuits, and settlements have been occurred in federal courts around the country.
Q: What about the Risperdal settlement with the government?
A: On November 4, 2013, Johnson & Johnson agreed to resolve criminal and civil investigations into the marketing of Risperdal and other widely-prescribed medications by paying over $2.2 billion. This was one of the largest penalties ever levied against a company for healthcare fraud. According to the agreement, Johnson & Johnson pled guilty to misbranding Risperdal for unapproved uses, as well as for paying kickbacks to physicians and to Omnicare Inc., the largest pharmacy for nursing homes.
Q: What should I tell my healthcare professional before he or she prescribes Risperdal?
A: Before you start taking Risperdal, tell your healthcare professional if you have (or have had) heart problems, seizures, diabetes or increased blood sugar, liver disease, an obstruction of your intestines, Reye's syndrome, a brain tumor, are trying to become pregnant, are already pregnant, are breast-feeding, drink alcohol, or have a condition called phenylketonuri.
Q: Is the drug manufacturer liable for my injuries that resulted from taking Risperdal?
A: While most medications have certain anticipated side effects, a drug manufacturer has a duty to make its products as reasonably safe as possible. If it fails to do so, allows a drug to be marketing for other uses, or hides associated risks, a manufacturer can be held legally responsible for your injuries under "product liability" law.
Gynecomastia and other Risperdal side effects can seriously impact both your physical and mental health and saddle you with significant medical bills. By filing a product liability lawsuit against the makers of the drug, patients could potentially receive compenation for their medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Q: Lawyers are expensive. How can I find out whether my Risperdal claim has merit?
It can be hard knowing what to do when you've sustained an unexpected injury resulting from something that's meant to improve your health. But filing a legal claim or joining an existing class-action lawsuit is the best way to get reimbursed for your losses. To learn more about a potential Risperdal claim for gynecomastia, you may want to get in touch with a product liability attorney specializing in dangerous drug lawsuits.
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