Having a psychologically challenged child is heartbreaking. Imagine when that same child suffers unnecessarily from the adverse effects of a defective medication, such as Risperdal. Now imagine if it was a psychologically disturbed male child that developed enlarged breasts, requiring a radical double mastectomy to correct the problem. A drug used to treat psychological disorders in children, known as Risperdal, has been the apparent cause of this, and several other adverse effects.
Risperdal, produced by the pharmaceutical giant Johnson and Johnson, was initially approved by the FDA for adult use only, for the treatment of schizophrenia. However, in 2006 through 2007 the FDA approved it for treating children and adolescents. These approved treatments were intended for autistic irritability for ages 5-16, bipolar disorder for ages 5 -16 and schizophrenia for ages 13-17.
In addition physicians have also, without FDA approval, prescribed Risperdal for off label treatment of the following:
- Tourette Syndrome
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD
- Behavioral Problems
- Anxiety and Depression
Several unique and adverse effects have become associated with the use of Risperdal. One of these actually mimics Tourette Syndrome, a condition for which it is prescribed to treat. Rapid weight gain, diabetes, stroke and osteoporosis (lowered bone density) are other negative side effects that have been linked to the use of the drug.
A more well-known detrimental effect is the formation of benign pituitary tumors which cause increased levels of prolactin, a hormone used to produce post-partum female milk production. The developed conditions associated with excessive levels of prolactin are galactorreah and gynecomastia, or milk production and male breast development, along with drastically lowered testosterone levels leading to impotency. Stopping the use of the drug after early detection of high prolactin levels can reverse the effects. But for male breast development the only solution is radical mastectomy which can be emotionally horrific to a child or adolescent who already has existing psychological issues. The embarrassment and humiliation associated with gynecomastia, followed by the trauma of mastectomy, is a devastating experience for the entire family, especially the child. To know that it could have been prevented is infuriating.
Settlements at Federal and State Levels
A combined federal and state settlement of up to $2.2 billion was agreed upon by Johnson and Johnson after a ten year investigation into the illegal promotion of the drug. This included an omission of any wrong doing on the part of Johnson and Johnson. It was the largest settlement of its kind in US history and was divided between the federal government and many different states. The settlement brought to the forefront marketing practices that were disputatious. Aggressive tactics devised to prompt physicians to prescribe Risperdal for early dementia in the elderly and disabilities in children were alleged. In addition, separate large settlements were reached in South Carolina for $237 million, Texas for $158 million and Montana for $5.9 million.
One case involving a 21 year old plaintiff was settled on the first day of trial in Philadelphia court for an undisclosed amount. This case was followed by five more, all of which were settled under confidentiality agreements. As recently as February 2015, Austin Pledger was awarded $2.5 million by a judge in a Risperdal trial. He had developed large breasts as a teen after beginning treatment with the drug at age eight. The judge in that case found that Johnson and Johnson had failed to warn about the possibility of male breast development. In a similar case in 2015, a jury found that the drug did not cause breast development and no damages were awarded. However the jury in that same case did find that the drug was marketed illegally.
The Need for a Dangerous Drug Law Firm
If your child, or young adult, experienced any adverse effects from the use of Risperdal, including gynecomastia (breast enlargement) it is important that you contact a law firm with the experience, skill and resources to face off against the pharmaceutical goliath, Johnson and Johnson. Although history has shown that the tendency is for Johnson and Johnson to settle these cases to avoid the admission of wrongdoing, no two outcomes are the same. The dangerous drug attorneys at Dolman Law Group offer free evaluation of your Risperdal case. Contact a dangerous drug lawyer today at Dolman Law Group. There is no cost unless we win. Do not hesitate as statutes of limitation may apply. Call (727) 853-6275 today for a free evaluation of your case.
Dolman Law Group
5435 Main Street
New Port Richey, FL 34652