Beginning in 1993, Risperdal has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, and autism spectrum disorders. The drug has been very successful for its maker, Johnson & Johnson and its Janssen unit, earning several billion dollars of annual sales until it lost its patent protection in 2007. Since that date, the drug has still earned hundreds of millions of dollars per year in sales for the company. However, the drug has since been linked to dangerous side effects. Victims are now pursuing legal action against the company for allegedly knowing about the drug’s potential risks without warning consumers and for marketing the drug for uses that were not FDA approved.
How Risperdal Is Used to Treat Mental Illness
Risperdal works to treat various mental illnesses by targeting serotonin and dopamine production in the brain. This has the effect of decreasing psychotic and aggressive behavior as well as minimizing and decreasing the symptoms of schizophrenia. In addition to its FDA approved uses, the drug has also been widely used in an off-label fashion to treat such common conditions as:
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Sleep difficulties
When a drug is used off-label, this means that it is being used in a manner that has not been approved by the FDA. Doctors, however, are not prohibited from prescribing FDA-approved drugs for off-label uses. The drug is commonly used to treat children with ADHD. This is a condition that affects many children and causes excessive motor activity, inattention, and impulsive behavior. Millions of children are diagnosed with ADHD each year. Sadly, the potentially harmful side effects linked to Risperdal use can have a devastating impact on the adults and children who have used the drug.
Harmful Side Effects Linked to Risperdal Use
Despite its widespread use, the drug has been shown to cause harm in many people who have taken it at the direction of their prescribing physician. Risperdal use has been specifically linked to the following adverse side effects:
- Abnormal breast development in boys. This is known as gynecomastia, and is the enlargement of breast tissue in males. Adolescents are especially susceptible to developing the condition
- Movement disorders
- Heart problems
In addition, the drug can also cause other harmful side effects that are associated with all atypical antipsychotic drugs, including the following:
- Prolonged penile erection
- Abdominal pain
To date, hundreds of individual lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson by people who took the drug and experienced some or all of these harmful side effects.
Allegations Against the Maker of Risperdal
Many cases are currently pending against Johnson & Johnson with regard to Risperdal use and its associated harmful side effects. Several cases have also reached a settlement. In addition, the company is facing billions of dollars in penalties from federal and state agencies. Among the allegations made against the manufacturer are the following:
- The drug was illegally marketed prior to obtaining FDA approval for certain uses.
- Salespeople were allegedly trained to promote Risperdal use to pediatricians as early as 2003, prior to obtaining approval for use of the drug by children.
- Doctors were allegedly paid to speak favorably of the drug. They were also reportedly given other incentives, such as golf outings, to prescribe the drug to children and adolescents.
- The company allegedly concealed the dangerous side effects of Risperdal.
- The company allegedly misrepresented the benefits and risks of using the drug for children.
While many cases have reached a settlement, countless more are anticipated to be filed by victims and their families. The effects of Risperdal can lead to long lasting and severe physical and emotional suffering. As a result, it is crucial for victims to protect their legal rights by pursuing a legal claim against the company. We are here to help. We encourage you to contact us today to begin the process at 855-947-0707.