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Risperdal Case Load Shows No Sign of Slowing Down

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Philadelphia, PAWith Risperdal side effects lawsuits continuing to grow at a compelling rate within a mass tort in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, the file is poised to move forward with a meeting planned for March 9 with regard to the centralized litigation (In Re: Risperdal Litigation, Case No. 100300296).

As reported by senior staff writer Jane Mundy last month, Risperdal saw the second-most compelling caseload growth for 2016 behind Xarelto, with a 39 percent increase in cases for 2016. That translates to 550 additional cases. While pundits noted in the Legal Intelligencer (01/27/17) that Xarelto may be hitting its plateau, Risperdal litigation is expected to continue spiking upwards.

This observation appears to be supported by Risperdal’s manufacturer Janssen Pharmaceuticals. The subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson (J&J) reported in November of last year that there were no fewer than 15,400 product liability claims filed with regard to Risperdal side effects in various courts around the US. J&J also is reported to have acknowledged that such claims are continuing to rise.

Risperdal (risperidone), an antipsychotic indicated to treat Bipolar disorder (amongst other indications), was originally approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1993 to treat schizophrenia in adults – although that indication was widened to include children in 2007. Side effects of Risperdal can include Risperdal diabetes and related issues with Risperdal blood sugar, tardive dyskinesia (involuntary blinking, or movements of the tongue, mouth, face or limbs), and Risperdal stroke.

However, it remains Risperdal gynecomastia – the growing of male breasts – that has caught the majority of the attention. Various Risperdal gynecomastia lawsuits have alleged that adolescents and young males, with no history of weight issues or other factors exacerbated by an inactive lifestyle, are presenting with breast tissue following use of Risperdal for a period of time. In rare cases, the issue also includes secretion from the nipples.

Numerous plaintiffs have required surgery to have the male breast tissue removed, and have resorted to litigation in order to seek compensation for the emotional trauma that often accompanies the growth of male breast tissue. For them, Risperdal and growing male breasts is a life-altering problem.

Plaintiffs assert that risperidone can stimulate the pituitary gland to produce excessive amounts of prolactin, a hormone instrumental to female breast development and lactation. Abnormally high levels of prolactin have been linked to the development of female-like breasts, or gynecomastia, in men and boys.

Plaintiffs also hold that Janssen and J&J withheld data that associated Risperdal with gynecomastia, and accuse the manufacturer of failure to warn both the medical community and consumers, about the risk.

The most recent Risperdal bellwether trial ended with a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, a male teen who was prescribed Risperdal from age five and who is alleged to have experienced excessive growth of male breast tissue shortly after starting the drug. The jury award was valued at $70 million (Yount v. Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., Case No. 130402094, in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania.)

Janssen and J&J have signaled they will continue to try, and defend cases. There are no plans to remove Risperdal from the market, as the manufacturer continues to reference Risperdal as safe and effective, with benefits outweighing the risks for the particular constituency of patients for whom Risperdal was, and is intended.

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