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Pharma Mass Tort Inventory Spikes in Philadelphia, Risperdal Cases on the Rise

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UNITED STATES - JANUARY 23:  Johnson & Johnson's schizophrenia drug Risperdal is arranged for an illustration at Skenderian Apothecary in Cambridge, Massachusetts on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2007. Johnson & Johnson, the world's biggest health-care products company, said profit rose 3.5 percent, led by sales of the Risperdal schizophrenia drug. The shares fell as revenue overall missed analyst expectations.  (Photo by Jb Reed/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

As of January 1, 2017, 5,601 pharmaceutical cases were pending in Philadelphia’s Complex Litigation Center. Although Reglan remains the largest single mass tort program in Philadelphia, Xarelto lawsuits saw the largest spike in 2016, with 664 new cases being filed, and Risperdal now accounts for more than 30 percent of the total mass tort docket, up from 26 percent in 2015.

What is Risperdal?

Risperdal is an anti-psychotic drug that was approved in 1993 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat schizophrenia in adults. The FDA later expanded approval of the drug to treat irritability in children and adolescents that was directly related to autism. Risperdal has since also been approved to treat acute mania and bipolar disorders in younger patients.

Physicians have also commonly prescribed Risperdal off-label to treat other disorders among young patients, including attention deficit disorder (ADD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). As more young patients began taking Risperdal, concerns began to grow about the drug’s potential side effects, which for some patients can persist long after the drug is discontinued.

Risperdal Side Effects

Common Risperdal side effects include:

• Increased mortality among elderly patients
• Diabetes
• Movement disorders
• Neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS), a relatively rare but potentially fatal neurological condition
• Parkinsonism, including tremors and difficulty with movement and balance
• Abnormal breast growth in young men, known as gynecomastia

Many of the Risperdal lawsuits allege damages related to gynecomastia. While gynecomastia is not usually medically dangerous for young men, the psychological effects can be devastating. A study published in the Plastic Reconstructive Surgery journal in 2013 concluded that gynecomastia has a significant psychosocial impact on adolescent patients that affects their self-esteem, mental health, and ability to function socially.

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