The drug Risperdal and its makers, Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) under its subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals, has been under legal fire for the harm that has been caused over the last two decades to patients. The antipsychotic drug is used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and autism, many times in young patients. One of the many harmful side effects has been the development of breasts in young males, which has lead to over a 130 filed lawsuits. The first lawsuit to go to trial for this particular injury was filed by Aron Banks in Philadelphia, with Johnson & Johnson deciding to settle the case on the first day of the trial.
In 1993, the FDA approved Risperdal to be used for the treatment of schizophrenia. Over the years, it was also approved to treat other illnesses, including bipolar disorder and autism. However, there has been continuing issues with the way the drug has been marketed by JNJ, often omitting known risks and selling it for use for non-approved illnesses. In June 2011, a Louisiana court order JNJ to pay $327 million in penalties for deceptive marketing. In April 2012, an Arkansas judge issued an order for JNJ to pay $1.2 in fines for its marketing of the drug. In 2013, a record-breaking $2.2 billion in penalties was issued for health fraud against the company. The FDA had reprimanded the drug company for its marketing methods all the way back in 2003 and in 2004.
Breast Development In Boys
Risperdal has many possible harmful side effects, including stroke, Tardive Dyskinesia, diabetes and gynecomastia, breast development in young males. This is caused by the increased production of prolactin, which is a hormone related to breast and milk development. Young males who were treated with Risperdal, like Aron Banks, had the propensity to grow breast tissue. Not only is this physically altering, it has caused emotional trauma for these victims as well.
Aron Banks Lawsuit
The Banks lawsuit was just the first of many that will be heard in courts across the country. Aron Banks, who was 21-years old when his lawsuit went to trial in September 2012, took Risperdal starting when he was nine-years old and took the drug for four years. At the time, the drug was not approved for use in children. Banks developed breasts and later had them surgically removed. There is speculation that JNJ settled quickly to try and keep their former VP of marketing Alex Gorsky from taking the stand. The details of the amount of the settlement were kept confidential.
The Banks lawsuit was just the tip of the iceberg that JNJ will need to address over the next few years due to the way they marketed and sold the drug Risperdal. Already there have been literally billions of dollars awarded by courts across the country against the drug giant. Claims of serious health issues from strokes, diabetes and even death have been connected to this dangerous drug that was so profitable for Johnson & Johnson.