Men and boys treated with an antipsychotic medication called Risperdal may be at risk for gynecomastia, a condition which results in the development of female-like breasts. The potential for Risperdal to cause excessive male breast growth has prompted thousands of patients to file lawsuits that accuse Johnson & Johnson and its Janssen Pharmaceuticals unit of concealing evidence linking the drug to this disfiguring complication. A few cases have settled, and some juries have already ordered the companies to pay significant financial compensation to a handful of gynecomastia victims.
Risperdal-related gynecomastia is both embarrassing and painful. You may be eligible to file your own Risperdal lawsuit if you or a loved developed the condition while using the medication. However, you must act now to ensure your legal rights are protected. You can do so by calling Bernstein Liebhard LLP today at to obtain a free, no-obligation review of your case.
Gynecomastia is defined as the development of abnormally large breasts in boys and men. Unlike breast growth that may accompany weight gain, the excess breast tissue associated with gynecomastia is often permanent, and can only be removed via surgical intervention. The condition may also be accompanied by glandular changes, resulting in nipple discharge or even lactation. While gynecomastia usually affects both breasts, it has been known to impact only one.
Gynecomastia can affect male infants, but generally goes away within a few weeks of birth. Boys undergoing puberty may also experience some breast growth. However, the swollen breast tissue will generally go away without treatment within six months to two years.
Permanent gynecomastia is often a side effect of certain medications, including two atypical antipsychotics called Risperdal and Invega. Both of these drugs can cause the body to produce too much prolactin, a hormone associated with female breast development and lactation. In males, elevated levels of prolactin have also been tied to excessive breast growth.
Symptoms of gynecomastia include:
In 1999, the journal Psychopharmacology published a case report which detailed a patient who developed gynecomastia while taking 0.5mg of risperidone in conjunction with fluoxetine (an antidepressant sold under the brand name Paxil). This was one of the first reports to appear in the medical literature that tied the use of Risperdal to excessive male breast growth. Three years later, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry reported that 90% of those treated with risperidone, the active ingredient in Risperdal, presented with elevated prolactin levels.
In 2006, a paper that appeared in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology reported that the use of Risperdal in children was associated with elevated levels of prolactin. Additional research published by the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology in 2009 revealed that these high levels of prolactin could persist for up to two years.
Treating gynecomastia often involves surgical intervention, such as liposuction or mastectomy, to remove excess breast tissue. It’s not unusual for victims to incur thousands of dollars in medical bills, along with the severe emotional distress and physical pain that often accompanies the condition. Not surprisingly, many alleged victims of Risperdal gynecomastia have chosen to pursue lawsuits against the drug’s manufacturers.
Thousands of Risperdal lawsuits had been filed in U.S. courts on behalf of men and boys who allegedly developed gynecomastia due to their use of the medication. Many of those cases have been centralized in Pennsylvania’s Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, where five juries have already found that Johnson & Johnson and Janssen Pharmaceuticals were negligent in failing to warn patients and doctors about the potential for Risperdal to cause excessive male breast development. The largest judgment to date – $70 million – was rendered on July 1, 2016, in a case filed on behalf of a teenage boy who began taking Risperdal in 2003. The unanimous jury also found that the drug’s manufacturers “intentionally falsified, destroyed or concealed records containing material evidence.”
The Risperdal litigation is far from over. In fact, unless a global settlement is reached, courts in Pennsylvania and other states are likely to convene additional gynecomastia trials in 2016 and beyond.
The nationwide law firm of Bernstein Liebhard LLP offers free, no-obligation legal reviews to individuals interested in filing a Risperdal lawsuit for gynecomastia. To discuss your case with a member of our legal team, please call .