Male breast growth, known in the medical community as Gynecomastia, is a troubling side effect of the Johnson & Johnson prescription antipsychotic drug Risperdal (generic name risperidone). Although the drug was approved several years earlier for use in adults, it was not FDA approved for use in children until 2007. Since that approval, an alarming number of young males (some as young as four years old!) have begun to develop breast tissue. Some of these boys and young men have even begun lactating.
This Risperdal male breast growth can likely be attributed to the drug’s property of raising levels of the hormone prolactin in the body. As its name suggests, this hormone is responsible for breast growth and lactation; it secreted by the pituitary gland. Treatment with the antipsychotic Risperdal results in a very high level of prolactin in the body. Risperidone is the only atypical antipsychotic with this hyperprolactinaemia effect; the reason for this side effect is that the drug antagonizes the dopamine receptors that usually inhibit prolactin production. Regardless of the biological mechanisms by which Risperdal male breast growth occurs, this drug is causing young males receiving psychiatric treatment to grow breasts, some as large as a 38D.
Although the gynecomastia (male breast growth) resulting from Risperdal treatment does not usually present serious health problems, the emotional and psychological effects can be absolutely devastating. This medication, prescribed to help treat psychiatric and emotional disorders is simultaneously causing grave emotional damages. Sometimes gynecomastia goes away by itself, but other cases require surgery or additional medications for treatment. Risperdal male breast growth victims may need to undergo a single or double mastectomy, a surgery typically used in the treatment or prevention of breast cancer.
The link between J&J’s Risperdal and male breast growth has been covered by several large media outlets. Bloomberg reported about a young adult man whose Risperdal gynecomastia lawsuit was settled on the first day of trial proceedings. The amount of the settlement was not disclosed, but the man’s attorney reported that his client was satisfied with the outcome. This man was prescribed Risperdal as a child from the years of 2000-2004, years before it was FDA approved for the treatment of children.
In September 2012, Forbes magazine published an article titled “J&J Sees Male Breasts And Quickly Settles Risperdal Suit.” This article detailed the settlement of one Risperdal victim who had to have surgery for the removal of the breasts he grew after taking Risperdal as a child. Risperdal did not carry any warning regarding the male development of breasts; alarmingly this side effect has a much higher risk for children who take the drug. Forbes also detailed how J&J had to pay hundreds of millions of dollars regarding claims that the company actively promoted Risperdal for a number of unapproved uses.
If you or a loved one has experienced male breast growth as the result of taking Risperdal (risperidone), contact the product liability team at the Willis Law Firm. We are currently reviewing gynecomastia lawsuit cases nationwide, and can help you and your family get the settlement you deserve. There may be a statue of limitation that limits the time you have available to file your claim, so do not delay! Join the hundreds of people exercising their rights and holding Johnson & Johnson responsible for their defective and harmful product.
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