Risperdal Medication Mass Tort Now Largest in the System

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Public Health Watchdog Breaking News
Public Health Watchdog Breaking News

The number of Risperdal lawsuits in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas has doubled since the beginning of this year, with over 3,600 new lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson (J&J), making the Risperdal mass-tort the largest in the system. A mass-tort is a civil action involving numerous plaintiffs against one or a few defendants in state or federal court.

The new cases filed since January 1, 2017, are a 185 percent increase in Risperdal complaints. Supervising judge of the Philadelphia Complex Litigation Center, Judge Arnold New, confirmed that the Risperdal mass-tort is the largest in the system. These cases are in addition to the 17,000 Risperdal lawsuits filed nationwide in federal and state courts. About 5,800 Risperdal lawsuits have been filed according to The Legal Intelligencer, and that number may triple by the end of 2017.

Unless a settlement or another resolution is negotiated by Risperdal attorneys, approximately ten Risperdal trials are planned for the Philadelphia Courts and the close of 2017 and into the first half of next year. Each of the 5,800 claims accuse J&J of aggressively promoting Risperdal for unapproved uses in children and minimizing gynecomastia, a potential side effect resulting from the use of the drug.

National law firm Parker Waichman LLP has extensive experience and success in representing clients in pharmaceutical litigation. Attorneys at the firm are available to answer questions for any individuals seeking legal information for a potential lawsuit.

What is Gynecomastia?

The Risperdal side effect of gynecomastia is due to the elevated levels of prolactin, a hormone associated with female breast development and lactation, or the production of milk. The increased level of prolactin has been linked to the use of Risperdal and to the growth of female-like breasts in men and boys. Although Risperdal-induced gynecomastia (sometimes referred to as “man-boobs”) is not life-threatening, the abnormal growth of breast tissue may cause serious psychological damage. The only effective treatment for gynecomastia is surgery to restore the masculine form to the chest.

Risperdal Background

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Risperdal (risperidone) in 1993 for use in treatment of certain mental and mood disorders. In 2006, the FDA approved Risperdal for treating irritability linked to autism in children and adolescents. One year later, the FDA approved Risperdal for use in children and adolescents with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

Some Risperdal side effects include dizziness, fatigue, anxiety, involuntary motion, nausea, and skin rashes. Other serious risperidone side effects began to emerge as early as 2006. The issues reported by patients and scientific studies included diabetes, heart problems, as well as gynecomastia. In 2003, a study published in Pharmacotherapy reported that treatment with antipsychotic drugs such as risperidone may increase the risk of high blood sugar and diabetes. The FDA required a warning placed on package inserts in 2004, alerting patients and doctors of these potential risks.

In 2014, scientists presented findings at the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry (AAGP) 2014 Annual Meeting showed that older men who used Risperdal were more likely to develop gynecomastia compared to non-users. Researchers found that use of this antipsychotic medication was associated with a 69 percent increased risk of gynecomastia compared to men who did not use Risperdal. J&J is accused of knowing about the risks, but failing to warn patients or their physicians.

J&J Settlements and Increasing Reports of Complications

In 2013, J&J was fined $2.2 billion to end civil and criminal investigations into kickbacks to pharmacists and the marketing of the pharmaceuticals Risperdal and Invega and the heart medication Natrecor for off-label uses.

From 1999 through 2005, J&J and its subsidiary Janssen, marketed Risperdal for unapproved uses that included controlling aggression and anxiety in elderly dementia patients and treating behavioral problems in children and in individuals with disabilities, reported Reuters.

In addition, a study revealed a rise in the risk of ischemic (restricted blood flow to the brain) stroke with the use of risperidone in patients over 64 years of age. Reports of at least 37 individuals who experienced a stroke, including 16 deaths connected with Risperdal, have been documented. A previous study in 2003 published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) reported that all antipsychotics are linked to an increased risk of stroke, with the risk higher in those using newer medications such as Risperdal.

Allegedly, J&J has continued illegal marketing, focusing on pre-pubescent boys with Risperdal lawsuits reaching a staggering $70 million (awarded to a plaintiff in July 2016 by a Philadelphia jury). Research and lawsuit settlements indicate Risperdal is frequently prescribed off-label for uses not approved by the FDA, for example, in the treatment of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

Legal Help for Risperdal Users

If you or someone you know has been negatively affected by side effects of Risperdal, you may be eligible for compensation. Parker Waichman LLP offers free, no-obligation case evaluation. We urge you to contact us at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529).