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Over the past several years, there has been an increase in lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson for various products including NuvaRing, vaginal mesh, and even a broad recall of children’s medicines.  Although each lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson has its own individual facts and considerations, what has become clear is that Johnson & Johnson has a number of dangerous products on the market leading to harmful side effects.  In 2010, the antipsychotic drugs Risperdal and Invega were added to this list.  These drugs, while marketed as antipsychotic medications, can cause serious side effects, including rapid weight gain and the growth of breasts in boys and young men.  Over the years, hundreds of lawsuits have been filed alleging the same side effects, some of which have gone to trial and been settled.

The lawsuits surrounding Risperdal allege inappropriate marketing as well as failure to warn issues.  While Johnson & Johnson alleges Risperdal helps countless people throughout the world who suffer from debilitating mental illnesses, it also has caused embarrassing side effects further contributing to the problems it claims to address.  In September of 2012, Johnson & Johnson settled one such lawsuit with a 21 year old who had taken Risperdal and grown breasts which had to be surgically removed.  The settlement was allegedly agreed to by Johnson & Johnson in order to avoid having the Judge in the trial order Chief Executive Officer Alex Gorsky to testify.   According to court filings, Gorsky was using the increases in Risperdal sales on his resume’.  The plaintiff sought to secure testimony regarding Gorsky’s role in getting psychiatrists to promote Risperdal for uses not approved by the FDA.

In addition to the lawsuits, Johnson & Johnson has also faced criminal charges from the federal government over allegations related to off-label marketing and payoffs to a nursing-home pharmacy company.  In November of 2013, Johnson & Johnson agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge and pay $2.2 billion to settle allegations that it illegally promoted the use of its antipsychotic drugs for unapproved uses, including the marketing of Risperdal to children and the elderly.  Although Risperdal and Invega were approved mainly for the treatment of schizophrenia, Johnson & Johnson expanded the promotion of the drugs for other medical problems to increase sales and driving the cost up for everyone in the health-care system, according to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

Still, the most troublesome side effect of Risperdal is the embarrassing and abnormal growth of breasts in males, most significantly troublesome in young boys and young men.  These types of claims are time sensitive and require a timely evaluation of the facts of your case.  If you or a loved one has experienced this side effect and have a history of taking Risperdal or Invega, contact an attorney knowledgeable in the handling of mass tort claims.

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