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Risperdal: How a Behavioral Drug Causes Hormonal Anomalies

Risperdal®, or risperidone, is an antipsychotic drug developed in the 90s. It was initially formulated to treat adults with schizophrenia but was soon found to be an effective treatment for bipolar disorders and autism.

Now, Risperdal is widely used to treat children with behavioral issues. While the drug often solves unsettling patterns like aggression, irritability, and self-harm, it can also cause unsettling side effects, particularly in young men.

For patients and parents alike, these adverse events were totally unexpected and caused lifelong consequences.

Bigger Boobs than the Girls in School

After taking Risperdal as a child, one teenager was unable to look in the mirror. According to the patient: “I had bigger boobs than the girls in [high] school. I thought, ‘Am I going to have to get a training bra?’

In coverage by CNN, a man who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder as a young boy explains his experience with Risperdal:

They put me on this Risperdal. The doctors said, ‘well, Risperdal was helping some.’ To me, it didn’t really help, because a year and a half later, I had gynecomastia.”

Gynecomastia is a condition in which breast tissue swells and causes breasts in males.

For a 13-year-old boy, growing breasts unexpectedly is a traumatic experience. The psychological effects of being deformed, ostracized, and bullied can be more severe than any initial disorder.

In this case, the patient stopped going outside to play with his friends and was plagued by bullies at school. “If I knew what the side effects would be of the medication,” he says, “I never would have taken it.”

That’s exactly why this young man, and over 13,000 others, are pursuing lawsuits as adults.

How Does Risperdal Cause Breasts?

After years of research by doctors and experts across the country, we now understand how Risperdal causes gynecomastia. Evidently, Risperdal blocks an essential neurotransmitter from reaching the pituitary gland, thus creating a hormonal imbalance. Specifically, Risperdal causes an increase of prolactin, a hormone present in pregnant and/or nursing women.

For both boys and girls, an atypical amount of prolactin can cause excessive breast tissue growth and galactorrhea, or milky nipple discharge.

Can Gynecomastia Be Cured?

No. Gynecomastia cannot be cured or undone. If a young patient exhibits minor breast growth and stops taking Risperdal immediately, they be able to continue their lives, but if breast growth is noticeable or severe, they will have to undergo cosmetic or reconstructive surgery in order to reclaim their bodies.

In addition to requiring expensive medical treatments, many victims of Risperdal are psychologically scarred for life.

Fortunately, courts around the country are holding the manufacturer of Risperdal responsible for patients’ physical and emotional injuries.

Notable Cases Against Johnson & Johnson and Janssen Pharmaceuticals

Risperdal is manufactured by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a branch of Johnson & Johnson. So far, lawsuits against J&J have awarded billions of dollars to injured plaintiffs.

Most recently, a Philadelphia jury required the company to pay $8 billion to a 26-year-old who developed breasts. According to the lawsuit, he started taking Risperdal at age 9.

Across the country, plaintiffs have been awarded anywhere from $158 million to $1.2 billion in damages.

Federal agencies like the U.S. Department of Justice have also hit J&J with more than $2 billion in fines and penalties.

See our Risperdal Lawsuits page for more.

Get the Justice You Deserve

If you grew breasts after taking Risperdal, no amount of money will undo the trauma you experienced. Nevertheless, getting involved in a class action lawsuit may help you find closure and pay off any medical bills associated with your case.

To get started, request a free consultation with our attorneys at Shaheen & Gordon, P.A.

We have multiple offices on the East Coast, so help is only a phone call away.

Dial (888) 801-9916 today to speak with a member of our team.