California Nursing Homes Accused of Overmedicating Patients with Risperdal, other Drugs

Published on September 8, 2014 by Laurie Villanueva

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Two California nursing homes have been slapped with a federally-filed Risperdal lawsuit that accuses them of over-medicating patients with this and other antipsychotic drugs, according to court records in the state.

The lawsuit was filed on August 29th in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California and details multiple situations in which individuals were inappropriately given medications used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other conditions. For instance, an 86-year-old man referred to in the claim was referred to as Patient 1 was able to speak clearly and walk on his own upon entering Country Villa Watsonville West. Within days of taking Haldol and Risperdal, a medication that includes the active ingredient, risperidone, the man stopped eating and developed bedsores and infections. The federal lawsuit was filed by the U.S. attorney for Northern California, who says the two nursing homes “grossly inadequate, materially substandard and/or worthless services.”

A staff attorney who represented Patient 1’s family in a private lawsuit that was originally settled out of court said his health “declined precipitously, to the point where he was read his last rites in the hospital.” Although he eventually recovered, “all this had been done without his family’s knowledge, without his informed consent, without real good clinical indications for the use of the drug.”

Thousands of Risperdal Lawsuits Allege Gynecomastia, other Side Effects

According to a recent report from WMRA.org, a publication that details NPR News reports, about a fifth of nursing home patients throughout the U.S. are prescribed Risperdal and other drugs, despite black box warnings that their use could increase the likelihood of death in dementia patients.

A number of patient advocacy group have weighed in on the subject, according to claims. “Under the False Claims Act, the government can ask for triple damages,” said an attorney for the AARP Foundation.

Risperdal and other drugs may not just pose harm in dementia patients, though. According to more than 600 lawsuits now filed in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, the drug may increase the risk for Risperdal gynecomastia, a side effect categorized by male breast development.

Risperdal claims blame Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, for side effects allegedly caused by the medication, which is approved to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, among other conditions.

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