Health care giant, Johnson & Johnson, is facing another Risperdal lawsuit that included allegations that the antipsychotic caused a teenage boy to grow breasts, a condition known as gynecomastia. Risperdal (risperidone) is made by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., a unit of Johnson & Johnson.
The boy’s family says the 16-year-old teen grew breasts that began lactating after he had taken Risperdal for 18 months. Because the boy suffers from mood and behavioral disorders his physician prescribed him Risperdal, according to KRIS TV.
The boy’s attorney claims that Janssen Pharmaceuticals hid the drug’s adverse reaction; however, the drug maker disagrees and sent a written statement to 6 News writing, “we take our obligation to ensure safe and appropriate use of our medications very seriously. We believe this case does not have merit and are defending ourselves against it.”
The boy is now faced with deciding if he should undergo double mastectomy surgery to have the breasts removed, according to KRIS TV. A judge ordered the parties to enter mediation before the trial scheduled for next week.
A number of lawsuits have been filed alleging injuries related to Risperdal and, according to one attorney, Johnson & Johnson should allow individuals who allege that Risperdal caused them harm to release information provided by the drug maker during the discovery phase of their lawsuits, according to Philly.com. Instead, attorneys for the drug maker persuaded a Philadelphia judge to seal some data obtained from the drug maker. As of our last report, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not appear to be pushing the matter.
Meanwhile, Arkansas’ attorney general recently filed a brief that was backed by his peers in 35 states that sought to have the Arkansas Supreme Court uphold a $1.2 billion fine that had been levied against Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., over the way in which it marketed Risperdal. Also, Johnson & Johnson previously chose to settle a lawsuit involving claims that Risperdal caused a male plaintiff to grow breasts. That lawsuit, brought by then-21-year-old Aron Banks, was the first case to go to trial over Risperdal and involved Banks’ claims that the drug caused gynecomastia, said Bloomberg.com previously.
The lawsuit is just one of some 420 against Johnson & Johnson and its Janssen unit over allegations of personal injuries related to Risperdal, the company indicated in a January 2013 regulatory filing. About 130 of the cases involve allegations that Risperdal caused young males to develop breasts, Bloomberg.com previously indicated. In this case, Banks alleged he suffered psychological trauma from breast growth he experienced when taking Risperdal when he was a boy from 2000 to 2004. At that time, Risperdal was not approved for pediatric patients.
Risperdal is an expensive and dangerous option among other drugs in its class and prior studies on the drug’s effectiveness found that more patients are likely to suffer stroke while taking Risperdal and are 50 percent more likely to develop diabetes than patients taking another drug in the same class. The drug has also been linked to side effects including irregular heartbeat, weak muscles and muscle spasms, fever, weight gain and constipation, and headaches. Serious side effects of Risperdal include Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome (NMS) and Tardive Dyskinesia.