The drug Risperdal was released in the 1990s as a treatment for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and other mental conditions. Many patients began taking the antipsychotic drug after manufacturer Johnson & Johnson touted Risperdal as a breakthrough medication.

Unfortunately,  unbeknownst to these patients and the public, Risperdal also carried devastating side effects. Thousands of men claim that they have developed gynecomastia as a result of taking the drug. Gynecomastia is a disorder that can cause the enlargement of male breasts. This condition is often not reversible.

Patients have accused Johnson & Johnson of failing to disclose these risks to the public.  There have been thousands of lawsuits filed against the company and its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals, many resulting in multi-million dollar settlements or verdicts for the plaintiffs in the case. The drugmaker has also been fined over $2 billion by the US government for its marketing of Risperdal.

If you or a loved one has developed gynecomastia as a result of taking Risperdal, you may be entitled to compensation. We recommend you contact a licensed attorney in your area who can evaluate your case and make sure you are treated fairly. Because many legal professionals will agree to represent clients who have suffered these side effects on a contingency basis, you should not hesitate to contact a lawyer even if you cannot afford to pay out of pocket.

What Is Risperdal?

The active ingredient in Risperdal is called risperidone.  The drug is an atypical antipsychotic, a class of drugs that are also known as second-generation antipsychotics (SGAs).  It was primarily prescribed for the treatment of bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and irritability stemming from autism. It is not fully understood why Risperdal works, but researchers believe that it affects neurotransmitters in the brain, particularly dopamine and serotonin.

History of Risperdal and Related Lawsuits

Clinical testing on Risperdal began in the late 1980s at Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.  In 1993, the company received FDA approval for its use in the treatment of adults with schizophrenia. In the years that followed, Janssen successfully campaigned for expanding the use of the drug for other treatments as well as its use in teenagers and children.

FDA Approval

In 2003, Risperdal received approval for use in adults with bipolar disorder. In 2006, Risperdal was approved for use treating irritability in children with autism between the ages of 5 and 16. Finally, in 2007, the FDA approved the drug for use in the treatment of schizophrenia in teenagers.

Researchers Begin Linking Risperdal to Gynecomastia

After Risperdal began being prescribed to more patients, there was also an increase in reported cases of gynecomastia, a disorder that causes the swelling of breast tissue in males.

It is believed that Risperdal caused many of these cases because the drug increases the levels of prolactin in users. High levels of prolactin can stimulate breast development in males, with rare instances even resulting in lactation.

In 2006, a study in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology was among the first to establish a connection between Risperdal and gynecomastia. The study also found that the doses of the drug that were commonly prescribed for the treatment of psychotic disorders in adolescents were enough to strongly increase prolactin levels. The authors concluded that these increased levels were responsible for “clinical consequences such as gynecomastia and/or galactorrhea.”

This research was bolstered in 2015 when a study published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology concluded that risperidone, the active ingredient in Risperdal, is associated with an increase in gynecomastia among males between the ages of 15 and 25. The study observed that patients taking Risperdal had four times the risk of developing the condition. Researchers estimate that 2.3% of male children and adolescents taking the drug will develop gynecomastia, some developing breasts up to a DD cup size.

If you have been personally affected by gynecomastia as a result of being prescribed Risperdal, we recommend you get in touch with a qualified lawyer in your area as soon as possible.

Gynecomastia Caused by Risperdal

Some mild cases of gynecomastia caused by the Risperdal may resolve themselves shortly after stopping treatment, but more severe cases can require medical intervention to limit the growth of the breast tissue. Some males who developed this condition after taking Risperdal had to undergo breast reduction surgery or liposuction. Many extreme cases even required a mastectomy in order to curb the disorder.

Cases of gynecomastia are not always physically harmful, but the emotional anguish experienced by boys who grow female-like breasts can be devastating to their mental health. Many patients also report a loss of quality of life as a result of this disorder. Research shows that even mild cases of gynecomastia can have a negative psychological effect on boys of all ages.

Patients Begin Filing Risperdal Lawsuits

One of the first lawsuits filed against the manufacturers of Risperdal was in 2008 in Pennsylvania on behalf of six boys who developed gynecomastia after being prescribed the medication. Two of the boys required mastectomies in order to treat the problem. Many similar lawsuits were filed in the following months.

Thousands of lawsuits have now been filed against Johnson & Johnson and other companies involved in making, promoting, and distributing Risperdal and other medications containing risperidone. There are various claims made in these lawsuits. Some allege that Johnson & Johnson engaged in illegal marketing practices, causing an increase in doctors prescribing Risperdal. Many also claim that the drugmaker was aware of the dangerous side effects, but failed to properly warn doctors and their patients.

$2.2 Billion Settlement

Patients feeling misled by Johnson & Johnson’s marketing of Risperdal won a major victory in November of 2013 when the company agreed to pay more than $2.2 billion in damages. This lawsuit, filed by the federal government,  did not cover all victims harmed by the drug, but it does provide a precedent showing that Johnson & Johnson failed to properly warn its consumers of the dangers of Risperdal, effectively putting their own profit over the safety of its customers.

Gynecomastia is not the only side effect the manufacturers allegedly attempted to cover up. According to the Justice Department, Risperdal was marketed to the elderly in spite of repeated warnings from the FDA. The DOJ claimed that Janssen Pharmaceuticals continued its promotion despite knowing that the drug presented dangerous risks to older patients, especially those suffering from dementia.

Every Risperdal lawsuit is different and is subject to the specific laws where the medication was prescribed and taken. This is one of the most important reasons why any patient who has suffered from this disease should contact a legal professional in their area. Most attorneys offer a free consultation with one of the members of their staff in order to assess the specifics of your case.

Verdicts & Settlements Awarded to Victims

There are thousands of cases related to Risperdal that are still pending, but many have already reached their conclusions. Here are a few examples of verdicts & settlements won by victims so far.

2012 – In one of the first tests of Johnson & Johnson’s culpability in promoting Risperdal, the drugmaker agrees to settle with the plaintiff, Aron Banks, outside of court after just one day of trial. The plaintiff developed gynecomastia after taking the medication beginning at the age of 8. The specific amount of the settlement remains undisclosed.

2015 – In a major bellwether trial, a jury awards a verdict of $2.5 million to Austin Pleger who developed gynecomastia after taking Risperdal beginning at age 8. Janssen Pharmaceuticals appealed the verdict but were denied a request for a new trial.

2016 – A jury awards the family of a teenager who developed large breasts after taking Risperdal over $70 million, the largest amount awarded to an individual as a result of Risperdal’s side effects.

What Should I Do If I Have Been Affected by Risperdal?

If you feel you have been affected by Risperdal, it’s important to act quickly to ensure you receive proper medical treatment and receive any compensation you may be entitled to—especially if you believe that you have developed gynecomastia as a result of taking the drug. It is important to work with professionals who can help you navigate the medical and legal challenges ahead.

How Do I Know If I Qualify to Be Part of a Risperdal Lawsuit?

If you are a male who has developed gynecomastia and you believe it is a result of taking the medication Risperdal, there is a chance that you qualify to file a lawsuit against the manufacturers of Risperdal. Many law firms will offer a free consultation with an expert to help you evaluate your case and determine if you are owed compensation.

How Does a Risperdal Lawsuit Work?

If your lawyer determines that your case is strong enough, they may agree to take the case on contingency, meaning that you do not have to pay them anything unless you are awarded damages through a verdict or a settlement. Depending on local laws and the specifics of your case, you and your lawyer will have different options regarding joining an existing lawsuit or filing one of your own.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Join a Risperdal Lawsuit?

If you are a victim of dangerous side effects as a result of having been prescribed Risperdal, we absolutely recommend that you retain a lawyer to represent you in this matter. This is because there are many details and variables to consider in every Risperdal lawsuit. Not having proper representation is extremely likely to result in being denied any compensation that you may be entitled to.

How Long Does It Take to Settle a Risperdal Lawsuit?

Especially given the long-term nature of Risperdal’s side effects, the litigation involving them can be quite long and drawn out. There are many Risperdal lawsuits that have been pending for years and even decades. As more precedent is made, it is possible that cases will be resolved faster in the future.

What Is the Statute of Limitations on a Risperdal Lawsuit?

Because the true extent of the side effects of Risperdal took several years to come to light, the statute of limitations is unclear. While some lower courts had previously ruled that the statute of limitations had passed for all patients, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania’s Eastern District ruled in November 2019 that the statute of limitations in Risperdal related lawsuits should be determined on a case-by-case basis.

How Much Can You Get From a Risperdal Lawsuit?

With settlements ranging from only a few thousand dollars to over $70 million, there is a huge range of possible award amounts from a legitimate Risperdal lawsuit. Lawsuit award amounts are generally determined by the severity of the damages sustained by the plaintiff and the degree of negligence of the defendant. Every case has several individual details that affect the overall value. Your attorney can help you determine the proper value of your individual lawsuit.

How Long Does It Take to Get Your Money After You Settle a Lawsuit?

Once your lawsuit is settled, it typically takes about six weeks to receive your payout. There are a number of factors that can affect this, and the timeline can vary from case to case. The settlement is generally paid directly to your attorney, who is tasked with making sure that the settlement money is distributed fairly and ethically. There are three steps that must be followed in order for you to receive your settlement check.

1. Paying the Victim’s Expenses

The first thing that must be done with any settlement money received is to pay any expenses incurred by the victim’s medical treatment or other bills. At this point, the victim is also entitled to be reimbursed for any of these expenses that were paid out of pocket.

2. Paying Legal Fees

If your attorney is working on a contingency basis and helps you recover an award from your Risperdal lawsuit, they will be entitled to receive payment based on a percentage of the total award. This percentage is agreed upon before the lawyer begins work.

3. Victim Compensation Payout

After all related bills are taken care of, the most important part of the process happens, a payment is sent to the victim. This payment is usually made by check and can be issued through the mail or picked up at your attorney’s office. If you have special payment requirements, it’s important to let your attorney know as soon as possible.

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