Risperdal Linked to Birth Defects; Lawsuits Filed

Johnson & Johnson, along with one of its companies, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, were named as defendants in several lawsuits this month after several users of the drug Risperdal claim they were not given any warning that the medication would cause birth defects.

According to the complaints, the plaintiffs, who were treated for disorders such as bipolar disorder, autism, and schizophrenia, gave birth to infants with several different birth defects.

Risperdal is considered a psychotropic drug, and while no psychotropic drug has been issued as safe to use during pregnancy, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) indicates that in 2013 alone, there was a 2.5% increase psychotropic drug prescriptions to pregnant women. In another study performed in 2010 by experts from the University of Copenhagen, results shows that there were 429 adverse reactions to children under the age of 17 who took these types of medications. At least half of the 429 victims were linked to severe birth defects, including serious deformities.

Another study was conducted in 2013 that linked women who were exposed to Risperdal with an unusually high association with birth defects, specifically heart malformations. Infants exposed to the drug in utero also have a heightened risk of preterm delivery and low birth rates.

Unfortunately, many pregnant women are put in a difficult predicament. Although the medication has been linked with various birth defects, psychotropic drugs are the only current ways that they’ve been able to successfully treat their disorders; leaving the only other alternative of suffering through their illnesses without medication during pregnancy.

In addition to birth defects, males who took Risperdal have also been affected by side effects. Several male teenagers who took the medication developed gynecomastia, a condition marked by swollen breast tissues in males. Several plaintiffs claim that Janssen Pharmaceuticals were well aware that this condition may affect those who take Risperdal, yet they failed to warn the public while marketing the drug.  

There are currently over 400 lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson, filed by those who’ve experienced side effects in which they claim they were never made aware of. Currently, Johnson & Johnson has settled some Risperdal cases, including agreed settlements in at least five lawsuits.