Risperdal (Risperidone) is an antipsychotic drug manufactured and distributed by Ortho-McNeill-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. It is mainly used to treat symptoms of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and autism.
Unfortunately, many doctors have prescribed Risperdal for unapproved (off-label) uses, causing serious consequences, especially among male children and young adults.
Risperdal has been linked to severe side effects, including:
- Gynecomastia (male breast growth)
- Galactorrhea (improper production of milk from breast)
- Sudden or excessive weight gain.
- Tumors in the pituitary gland.
- Heart attack
- Tardive Dyskinesia
- Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome (NMS)
Risperdal and Gynecomastia
Side effects of the atypical antipsychotic medication may cause abnormal breast growth or enlargement among male children and young adults; a condition known as gynecomastia. One of the ways Risperdal works in treating mental disorders is by blocking dopamine in the brain. It is believed that this may cause the pituitary gland to release prolactin into the blood causing the enlargement of the male breasts.
Symptoms that have been associated with Risperdal-related gynecomastia include:
- Swollen breast tissue (may be confused with weight gain)
- Tenderness in the breast
- Nipple discharge from one or both breasts
Although gynecomastia is non-cancerous it may require either liposuction or surgery such as a mastectomy to correct the condition. In addition, the growth of male breasts can cause severe and lasting psycho-social harm to the patient, who was already suffering from a physiological illness in the first place.
In November of 2013 Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay more than $2.2 billion in criminal and civil fines to settle accusations that it improperly promoted the antipsychotic drug Risperdal to older adults, children and people with developmental disabilities.