Johnson & Johnson is a large drug maker and the parent company of Janssen Pharmaceuticals, the company that manufactured, marketed and sold the anti-psychotic drug Risperdal.
Risperdal was approved in the early 1990s for use in adults with severe mental health issues, such as schizophrenia. Despite the fact that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did not approve the use of Risperdal in children, Johnson & Johnson aggressively marketed the drug towards pediatricians and pediatric surgeons.
In 2006, the FDA finally approved the drug for use in autistic children. By this time, thousands of childhood prescriptions had been handed out in the years preceding the updated prescription requirements.
In addition to the injuries suffered by adults who developed diabetes and heart disease, Risperdal also caused abnormal breast growth in adolescent boys.
In light of these dangers, lawyers all over the country are filing dangerous drug lawsuits.
Risperdal Side Effects
There are many dangerous side effects to Risperdal. The side effects of the drug depend substantially on who is being prescribed the medication.
In adults, the drug may cause diseases that include:
- Heart disease
- Bone Loss
- Severe Migraines
One of the more serious side effects of the drug in adults is the onset of Type II diabetes. Symptoms of Type II diabetes include:
- Increased dehydration
- Frequent urination
- Problems with vision
Risperdal contributed to diabetes because the drug has been associated with causing significant weight gain in adults. In addition to causing weight gain, the drug also causes the blood sugar levels of patients to rise.
The dangerous combination of weight gain and increased blood sugar also causes severe heart disease in many patients. Some adult patients, and particularly those that are elderly, have experienced cardiac arrhythmias, stroke and heart attack.
Patients who suffer from neurological disorders such as Dementia or Alzheimers were particularly at risk for the development of severe heart disease.
Gynecomastia: Risperdal Causes Breast Growth in Boys
Being an adolescent boy is very difficult in terms of puberty, development and peer pressure. Imagine then, that you are an adolescent boy who is now also saddled with abnormal breast tissue growth. Imagine the pain and embarrassment of having to go to school with breasts.
Gynecomastia, or abnormal breast growth in boys, is associated with Risperdal because the drug has been shown to:
- Enlarge breasts
- Cause nipple discharge
- Elevate the breast producing hormone prolactin
Risperdal has been shown to cause excessive breast growth in adolescent boys by increasing the level of prolactin in their bodies. Unfortunately, in stopping usage of the drug is often times not sufficient to reverse the drugs effects.
Risperdal Injury Lawsuits
One of the most serious consequences of prescribing Risperdal to adolescent children is the development of breasts in boys or gynecomastia.
In a recent case over the devastating side effects of this case, a Philadelphia jury awarded Austin Pledger and his family $2.5 million after he developed 46DD breasts as an adolescent boy.
The boy was prescribed Risperdal for over 5 years beginning at the age of 8 in 2002. Even after treatment was stopped, the boys breasts did not disappear. In fact, surgeons were forced to perform a double mastectomy to remove them.
The jury found that Johnson & Johnson officials failed to label the drug appropriately to warn parents and doctors about the risks. Additionally, witnesses at trial testified that the company intentionally targeted pediatric doctors in order to encourage childhood Risperdal prescriptions.
Lawyers for the Pledger family stated that the dangers of the drug were intentionally withheld from the FDA. What is unique about the Pledger family victory, is that its the first of its kind in the Risperdal lawsuit to go all the way through a trial to a jury verdict.
Drug sales representatives from Janssen visited Pledger's doctor more than 20 times. The doctor testified that he did not know about the risks. He stated at trial that had he been informed about the risks, he would have informed the family.
Until recently, Johnson and Johnson has quietly settled several Risperdal injury cases. But there are thousands of Risperdal lawsuits that have been filed all over the country that are awaiting trial. This verdict could very well impact how families across the country are compensated in their Risperdal personal injury lawsuits.
Risperdal Criminal Lawsuits
Johnson & Johnson has lost more than just a civil lawsuit in relation to injuries caused Risperdal. In 2013, the company pled guilty to a criminal fraud charge in a case brought by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and several states.
The company paid $2.2 billion in fees and fines for marketing its drugs, including Risperdal, to patients that were not approved by the FDA. The company pled guilty under the federal False Claims Act and settled both civil and criminal fines associated with their guilty plea.
Pharmaceutical companies are legally barred from marketing drugs for off-label use. While doctors can decide to prescribe a drug for a use other than what the FDA has approved, the drug companies are barred from promoting off-label uses.
The DOJ and federal investigators discovered that the company failed to adequately warn the FDA about the dangers of Risperdal, including the development of diabetes. Additionally, the company even went so far as to offer doctors kickbacks and other financial incentives to prescribe the drug to children.
Additional state level fraud criminal cases are also still pending.
Tennessee Risperdal Law Firm
At Greg Coleman Law, we have decades of experience going toe-to-toe with large companies. We have recovered tens of millions of dollars on behalf of clients.
We have worked on nationwide class action lawsuits against some of the largest companies in the U.S. We have the resources and the skills to represent your family against a large pharmaceutical company like Johnson & Johnson.
If you suspect that someone you love has been injured by a Risperdal prescription, do not hesitate to consult with an attorney.
During a free consultation, our experienced class action lawyers will review the facts of your case and decide on the best course of action.