Risperdal Walks the Legal Line

Risperdal Walks the Legal Line

Image Credit: David Andrew Copeland

With more than 15,000 Risperdal lawsuits out there, the legal team at pharmaceutical giant Johnson and Johnson (J&J) has been busy addressing the drug’s side effects this year. Chief among them is gynecomastia, a condition that afflicts young males with enlarged breast tissue due to an increase in estrogen levels.

Legal challenges have dogged the reputation of Risperdal for more than a decade, dating back to allegations of improper marketing conduct back in 2003. The cases really began to gather momentum over the past five years, however, as plaintiffs and the press began to focus on the development of male breasts.

Aside from the striking visuals the complaints conjured up for media outlets eager to push another eye-catching side-effect story, the involvement of J&J and one of the most prominent drugs in recent memory makes for a perfect pharmaceutical storm.

To date, Johnson and Johnson has been required to pay out $2 billion+ in fines and legal settlements. That includes payments to state and federal government bodies, in addition to complaints filed in civil and criminal courts.

At the national level, 2013 saw Risperdal at the center of one of the biggest fraud settlements in the modern era of American healthcare. 

Former Attorney General Eric Holder led the Department of Justice against J&J, which was charged with marketing the drug as suitable for treating dementia. While the FDA had given Risperdal the green light for use by patients suffering from schizophrenia, dementia was not among the list of approved conditions.  Holder considered the activity to be fraudulent to such an extent that it put the public at risk and seriously impacted their trust in an important drug.

The company settled that case for $2.2 billion, the third largest settlement in the history of US pharmaceutical cases.

The sheer volume of patients lining up to claim compensation for previously undisclosed side-effects of Risperdal ensure that the drug will continue to walk the legal line as we head into a New Year. For the men who have developed male

For the men who have developed male breasts, the suffering will inevitably continue. Knowing that they are raising awareness about gynecomastia will provide some solace, however, as should the fact that they could soon be compensated for this unforeseen and distressing condition.

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