The number of lawsuits filed against the long time corporate giant Johnson & Johnson continue to grow. Risperdal, an atypical anti-psychotic drug developed by Johnson & Johnson in an effort to combat the symptoms associated with the mental health disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and in some cases autism in children is currently under scrutiny.
The reported gynecomastia side effect of male breast development has put a magnifying glass on the illustrious corporation of Johnson & Johnson.
How did the issue with Risperdal come about?
Risperdal is and was commonly prescribed to patients with bipolar disorders, schizophrenia and other mental health conditions that cause a chemical imbalance in the brain. It works by attempting to correct that imbalance by altering the effects of the brain chemicals, Risperdal is reported to be the first drug permitted for children with autism and allegedly the most widely used.
However, rumor has surfaced that Johnson and Johnson failed to provide sufficient warnings on the risk and side effects of Risperdal use.
Risperdal allegedly increases a hormone called Prolactin that activates breast development in woman. This allegation came about as young adolescent boys who have been taking this medication have shown increased levels of prolactin and thus developed breasts. This anomaly is scientifically known as Gynecomastia.
Imagine, how breast development can make our youths vulnerable to psychological trauma. To rid this anomaly they would have to undergo surgery, liposuction and possibly even mastectomy.
Recent reports in the daily mail have stated that an Autistic man, of 20 years, has been awarded $2.5 million in damages after he grew 46DD breasts due to the side effect of the anti-psychotic drug. A significant and painful size for a grown woman, let alone a young boy.
Numbers and Gynecomastia Lawsuits
A mass number of 1600 lawsuits were filed in December of last year in Philadelphia, and every single one of them were associated with the cost and impact of Gynecomastia.
While some children and men had surgery to reduce the size of their breasts, others still have the breasts and have to the daily battle of bullying and the stigma of mental illness.
Johnson & Johnson have lost three cases thus far, and have paid a significant amount in damages. The amounts ranging from $500,000 to $2.5 million, vary based on expenses and social issues associated with the side effect of course. One lawsuit alone, setback Johnson & Johnson a ponderous $1.75 million. The growing number of lawsuits filed against the company are each alleged to involve similar numbers.
The Risperdal FDA Warning Debate
The controversy is that parents/guardians and physicians claim to have been uninformed of the this particular side effect.
Notwithstanding, Johnson & Johnson insists that the physicians who prescribed this medication were made aware of these side effects long before a lawsuit was ever filed. They claim that the FDA warned medical professionals of the problem.
Meanwhile, the lawyers of the plaintiffs declare that the FDA alerted Johnson & Johnson of the risk, but Johnson & Johnson supposedly didn’t forward the information.
As a matter of fact, David Kessler, former FDA commissioner, testified as a paid expert witness that the “FDA warned Johnson & Johnson, who in turn did nothing.”
Risperdal, Gynecomastia and the Lack of Warning Labels
Just like any other situation where a person or company is trying to prove that they operated in a transparent manner, however they have yet warn anyone of the potential for gynecomastia to develop. Simple labeling would suffice don’t you think?
It appears that Johnson & Johnson targeted children and young adults, knowing that they had not obtained the necessary approvals to ensure Risperdal was in fact safe to use on children. It leaves one wondering if the allegations of their negligence was driven by monetary interests? Did they fail to make the health of their consumers a priority by putting their patients health at risk?
Johnson & Johnson continue to stand by their claim that physicians were warned of the risks associated with the use of Risperdal.