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Risperdal Side Effects Prompt a New Wave of Lawsuits

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

If you have been diagnosed with schizophrenia, autism, or bi-polar disorder, you may have heard of Risperdal. The drug, manufactured by Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals, has been prescribed as an anti-psychotic that can treat those conditions. But Janssen has been in trouble for years over how it has marketed Risperdal, and now it's in trouble for hiding the drug's side effects.

A 2012 study of autistic boys showed that breast enlargement and diminished sexual functioning are common side effects of the drug, and new lawsuits are claiming Janssen and Johnson & Johnson failed to warn doctors and patients about the risk.

The Risk With Risperdal

Risperidone is an antipsychotic that, for some autistic people, can reduce aggressive behavior. In 2006 and 2007, the FDA approved Risperidone, marketed as Risperdal, for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and irritability in autistic children.

While Risperdal has its benefits, its use has been associated with increased levels of prolactin, a hormone regulated in the brain that, among others things, controls milk production. And increased levels of prolactin can cause breast enlargement, also known as gynecomastia. That 2012 study showed that autistic boys aged 10 to 20 taking Risperdal were twice as likely to develop gynecomastia that those not on the drug. They were also 14 percent more likely to suffer some sexual dysfunction.

Risk and Liability

A new round of lawsuits claims Janssen knew about the elevated risk for gynecomastia as far back as 2003, and failed to warn patients. They also allege that other drug that have similar benefits in autistic patients don't have the same side effects, meaning the risk is particular to Risperdal.

A 20-year-old autistic Alabama man, who had been taking Risperdal since he was 8, was awarded $2.5 million after developing size 44D breasts. He was first prescribed the drug in 2002, long before it had been FDA-approved for autism treatment.

Starting in 2010, Janssen Pharmaceuticals and parent company Johnson & Johnson were hit with a slew of lawsuits for Medicaid fraud and off-label use in the way it marketed Risperdal, culminating in a $2.2 billion settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice in 2013.

If you've suffered serious side effects from using Risperdal, you should contact an experienced injury attorney about your claim.

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