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Philadelphia court challenge over Risperdal

Thursday, January 7th, 2010



A fight over the antipsychotic medication Risperdal may be brewing in Philadelphia courtrooms. A local attorney filed lawsuits Thursday on behalf of 10 families, including one in Philadelphia and another in Delaware.

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A fight over the antipsychotic medication Risperdal may be brewing in Philadelphia courtrooms. A local attorney filed lawsuits Thursday on behalf of 10 families, including one in Philadelphia and another in Delaware.

Risperdal is FDA-approved for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, but doctors sometimes prescribe the drug to treat more common problems in children. Philadelphia attorney Stephen Sheller is building a mass tort case against the drug’s manufacturer, Janssen.

Sheller says Risperdal causes permanent breast growth in boys and stimulates a hormone that leads to milk production. He says the drug maker failed to adequately warn doctors and patients about those risks.

Sheller: What they should have said: If you use this drug you need to know, that you have a very substantial chance of growing breasts if you are a boy, and they will be permanent. The longer you use the drug the worse the problem is. And in addition because you are a child that this risk is much greater than is mentioned in the label.

Sheller says some boys have had corrective mastectomies to remove breast tissue.

A spokeswoman for the drug maker declined to comment saying the company hasn’t seen the court filings yet.

Child psychiatrist Jeffrey Naser says doctors have known for years that Risperdal triggers elevated levels of a hormone that causes breast tenderness and milk production.

Naser: As physicians we need to monitor that closely and at the first sign that there may be any indication of problems along those lines we need to either drop back on — or stop — the medication. For people that aren’t monitored closely and are left on those medications too long with those symptoms, those types of difficulties can become more permanent and can even require surgery to correct.

Naser says the drug can be a good short-term treatment for childhood behavior problems that interfere with family and school life.


One Comment

  • Dana Walker says:

    I Can Definitely relate to this , my son has been on this medication now for over a year and it has caused him ALLOT of weight gain to the point that he has a hard time even walking and doing his daily self up keeping. its sad because it effects his self esteem because of it.

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