Risperdal’s Alleged Overuse in Nursing Homes

Federal prosecutors have alleged that two California nursing homes inappropriately administered Risperdal and other medications to their patients. According to a lawsuit filed late last month in the U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, a number of elderly residents at two nursing home facilities were allegedly treated with antipsychotic, psychotropic, and/or narcotic medications without the consent of their physicians or family members.

In one case, an 86-year-old man became bedridden, stopped eating and suffered from bedsores, as well as infections, following Risperdal and Haldol use to control his agitation. Within weeks of his admission to the nursing home, the resident was rushed to the hospital with symptoms of heart failure, a known side effect of antipsychotics in the elderly, according to the complaint.

According to a report from NPR, advocates for nursing home patients are hopeful that prosecutions such as this will discourage nursing facilities from overmedicating their patients. While the labels for antipsychotic drugs such as Risperdal warn that they can increase the risk of death in elderly dementia patients, approximately one fifth of nursing home residents nationwide are treated with these medications.

As we have posted on our blog, there are hundreds of people filing complaints for Risperdal for gynecomastia, (male breast growth) and other complications allegedly caused by the antipsychotic medication. The complaints contend that the drug was improperly marketed for unapproved uses, including the treatment of elderly dementia patients. Due to the use of Risperdal, many men and boys developed gynecomastia, many underwent surgical removal of the breast tissue.

Court records show that most of the individual Risperdal lawsuits are pending in a mass tort litigation underway in Pennsylvania’s Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. The complaints accuse Johnson & Johnson (J&J) and Janssen Pharmaceuticals of concealing the association between Risperdal and male breast growth, and of failing to warn doctors and patients of the potential risk.

J&J agreed to pay $2.2 billion in November 2003 to settle charges brought about by the U.S. Department of Justice involving the marketing of Risperdal and other medications. The company pled guilty to a criminal misdemeanor, as well as other things, and acknowledged that it had improperly marketed Risperdal for use in elderly dementia patients. However, J&J did not admit any wrongdoing in resolving the civil charges regarding the promotion of Risperdal for off-label use in children. It is reported that this settlement included “a roughly $400 million criminal fine for the illegal promotion of the antipsychotic Risperdal,” according to the Wall Street Journal.

Men and boys who allegedly developed gynecomastia due to their use of Risperdal may be entitled to compensation for their damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress and more.

If you or a loved one suffered injuries, physical and/or emotional, from the use of Risperdal, you should contact an experienced attorney to discuss your case. For more information, feel free to stop by our website or call one of our Gacovino Lake attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).

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