The number of Risperdal lawsuits continues to grow and over 600 are currently pending in a mass tort litigation underway in Pennsylvania’s Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. The lawsuits all claim Risperdal caused patients to suffer male breast growth – gynecomastia – and other serious side effects. The lawsuits also accuse Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Johnson & Johnson of improperly marketing the drug for unapproved uses. These include the treatment of children and elderly dementia patients
Originally approved as an anti-psychotic medication, J&J sought FDA approval to use the drug in treating dementia in older patients. Even after the FDA rejected the approval, the company still went so far as to create a dedicated sales force, ElderCare, to promote the drug and others to doctors who primarily treated older patients
It was revealed in a recent federal settlement that J&J knew Risperdal posed serious health risks for older adults, like an increased risk of strokes, but continued to play them down.
J&J also marketed the drug as a safe treatment for children with ADHD – in spite of the fact Risperdal wasn’t approved for use with children until 2006. It has been revealed that Johnson & Johnson’s own internal research had shown that children were susceptible to certain health risks from taking Risperdal. These included the possibility that boys could develop breasts through elevated production of the hormone prolactin.
In spite of knowing the dangers of Risperdal Johnson & Johnson continued to market the drug. They spent lavishly to influence doctors, and used extensive data mining to broaden their markets into areas where the drug wasn’t even approved.
The reckless disregard Johnson & Johnson has shown for the wellbeing of the patients they serve is appalling. Even after learning of the dangers, they recklessly marketed Risperdal knowing that it could cause gynecomastia. Corporate profit, not patient safety, guided their decision-making.