Rise in Antipsychotic Drug Prescriptions May Contribute to Risperdal Lawsuit Filings

Published on December 17, 2013 by Laurie Villanueva

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More and more children are being given powerful antipsychotic drugs, like those named in Risperdal lawsuit filings, to curb behavioral problems and for other uses not approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA); not necessarily to treat conditions for which they were intended.

According to a Consumer Reports article from December, the uptick in prescriptions of Risperdal and other medications is not symptomatic of an epidemic of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, the treatment for which is approved by the federal agency. Poor and minority children as young as 2 years old have been treated with the medication marketed by Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary, Janssen Pharmaceuticals.

Risperdal Gynecomastia Lawsuits Allege Breast Growth in Men, Young Boys

Recently, certain health organizations have stepped in to try and amend the situation. The American Psychiatric Association has announced that the medications should not be prescribed outside their realm of FDA approved uses, which include the treatment of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.  One might wonder if the prescription of Risperdal in children has contributed to the growing number of claims filed in U.S. courts. In a consolidated proceeding established in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, court documents show that 275 claims have been filed on behalf of men and young boys who allegedly developed Risperdal gynecomastia, a condition categorized by male breast growth, and other complications.  These lawsuits similarly allege that the medication was improperly promoted for off-label use.

In a recent $2.2 billion settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice, Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay civil and criminal penalties for its marketing of Risperdal and certain other medications to children and elderly patients with dementia. The agreement was reached on November 4th and represents one of history’s largest healthcare settlements.

Medical professionals have already gone on the record to voice concerns about the over-prescription of Risperdal and other medications. “What’s not known about the long-term effects is very troubling,” said an assistant professor at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston. “The younger you go, the more you can affect the developing brain.”

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