Former users of Janssen Pharmaceuticals’ antipsychotic drug Risperdal continue to feel the impact of a long-undisclosed potential side effect of the medication. The drug is intended to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, however, since its release, multiple misrepresentations about Risperdal have been made to patients and their doctors. In perhaps the most glaring example, some males who have used the drug have developed a disorder called gynecomastia. The condition causes them to grow breasts as a result of a Risperdal-induced hormonal imbalance.
Eddie Bible claims to be one such victim and is preparing a lawsuit against Janssen and their parent company, Johnson & Johnson. Now 26, Bible was prescribed Risperdal for anxiety and bipolar disorder when he was 13-years old. A CNN report details his confusion and struggles after using the drug, stating how he overlooked growing breasts at first because he thought it was just weight gain, which was a known side effect of the drug when he was taking it. He dealt with constant bullying at school and would eventually shut himself off from friends, barely leaving his bedroom and only socializing through playing video games. He says that dealing with the side effects of Risperdal “was worse than the bipolar disorder.”
Bible says he wants Johnson & Johnson to know what he endured and what it felt like to have breasts as a teenage boy. Lawsuits similar to his have already resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements and verdicts for Risperdal plaintiffs.
In 2012, Johnson & Johnson was forced to pay an additional $1.2 billion in Risperdal fines because of more than 250,000 violations of Arizona’s Medicaid fraud and deceptive practice laws. Just a year later they paid $2.2 billion more in the third largest pharmaceutical settlement in US history.
Janssen Pharmaceuticals failed to list gynecomastia as a potential side effect of Risperdal for more than ten years. During that time thousands appear to have suffered from their apparent misconduct. Total financial compensation for unknowing users continues to mount case-by-case, but it can’t undo the social harassment they are forced to endure.
Gynecomastia requires breast reduction surgery in order to be corrected. At best, those who can afford the surgery are left with scars as a reminder of their anguish. At worst, those who can’t afford the procedure will continue to face the embarrassment of their disorder on a daily basis, which, if they were Risperdal users, could have been avoided if they had been told it was a possibility.