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There are not many things that sicken me, since I consider myself of being of firm intestinal fortitude, armed with advanced medical knowledge and a sense of right and wrong, instilled at an early age by my immigrant parents.

But, let’s throw that simple sentiment out of the window. I recently read the excellent series of Risperdal articles by Steve Brill in the Huffington Post, regarding the Risperdal tragedy and the probable criminal actions by key Johnson and Johnson (J&J) and its subsidiary Janssen executives in the marketing and sales of their blockbuster anti-psychotic medication, Risperdal. These are must-reads for everyone.

Risperdal Causes Abnormal Breast Growth in Males

The latest medical research found that side effects of Risperdal use among boys and young men increases the risk of abnormal breast growth, called gynecomastia.

In the August issue of the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, University of British Columbia researchers found that use of Risperdal increases the risk of gynecomastia breast growth in teens and young men by a factor of four, or by 400%.

What is Risperdal?

Risperdal (risperidone) is a blockbuster antipsychotic medication, mass marketed particularly to children for treatment of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and irritability associated with autism.

Risperdal Undeniably Causes Abnormal Breast Growth

Risperdal has severe side effects, the worst of which causes an increase in the blood levels of hormone prolactin. Prolactin is a protein hormone that causes and maintains lactation (milk production) in women after they give birth.

For boys and young men using Risperdal, previous medical research has linked Risperdal to the development of enlarged breasts.

In this latest study involving more than 400,000 males ages 15-25, using the IMS LifeLink database, researchers found 1,556 cases of gynecomastia and compared them with 15,560 corresponding controls.

The study found, Risperdal users were 3.91 times more likely to develop gynecomastia than boys and young men who did not take the drug. When researchers looked just at those under the age of 18, the risk increased to more than a factor of five.

The researchers concluded, “Our study showed a strong association between risperidone use and gynecomastia in young adult males.”

J&J Should Be Held Criminally Liable

Johnson and Johnson has made over $20 Billion from the sales of Risperdal over the past 10 years and is the world’s largest pharmaceutical and medical device maker. J&J is a financial behemoth, generating over $100 Billion in revenue annually. Any fines, penalties and payments to injured plaintiffs, will be less than $10 Billion, in the aggregate–a mere drop in the ocean for J&J.

It’s already been factored into the stock price, shelved away in a fund to cover this liability. In short, it’s nothing more than a cost–the cost of doing business, which, for Johnson and Johnson, involves making medical products that affect the health and welfare of millions of patients around the world.

Risperdal Litigation Update

Johnson & Johnson is exposed to more than 1,300 gynecomastia personal injury and product liability lawsuits over the failure to warn about Risperdal gynecomastia side effects in boys. The lawsuits allege that Johnson and Johnson hid known information about the risk from patients and the doctors. As of today, there are over 10,000 Risperdal unfiled claims waiting in the wings.

J&J Knew About the Link Between Risperdal and Breast Growth

Johnson & Johnson has known about the link between Risperdal and gynecomastia since at least 2001, and yet chose to ignore the reports and not to update warnings provided to parents about the male breast growth risks for years.

Johnson and Johnson has already ear marked funds for the defense of this litigation and the eventual settlement of thousands of gynecomastia injury case, implying that they knew that, at some point, people would suffer adverse side effects.

They are quietly running down the clock on this litigation, by dragging out the defense and the trials over the injury cases. The old adage, deny, delay and defend the claims are in full swing here. Outrageous, what ever happened to the hallowed Johnson and Johnson Credo, Patients over Profits? And shame on the doctors employed by Johnson and Johnson who trampled on the Hippocratic Oath, First Do No Harm.

I am sure the standard defense will be the rallying cry, “We were just following Orders”.

Risperdal Settlements

Over the past 10 years, there have been quiet settlements by Johnson and Johnson over its Risperdal drug. In February 2015, the first Risperdal bellwether trial in Pennsylvania state court ended in a $2.5 million jury award, with a second case the in March ending with a defense verdict.

Unfortunately, the second jury found that the plaintiff failed to establish that his gynecomastia was caused by the anti-psychotic drug. Key to success in pharmaceutical litigation is that the plaintiff has to prove that the side effects complained of, here, gynecomastia, was directly caused by the offending drug, Risperdal. The same jury found that Johnson & Johnson failed to adequately warn the boys and their parents about the gynecomastia risks.

A third bellwether case was settled out of court in May.

Dr Shezad Malik Commentary

I would encourage everybody to read this series of posts by Steve Brill, and contemplate if this really is the world we want to live in and allow our most vulnerable segments, the kids and the elderly, to be abused and killed by the giant pharmaceutical companies for the sake of profit.

I would like to pose a question, do corporations have a soul? We know that the recent Supreme Court decision classified them as “people” and entitled them to their First Amendment rights of free speech. Likewise, if determined to be guilty of criminal activity, should now these various corporations be jailed? Obviously, corporations cannot be jailed but their leaders and decision makers can and should be following this outrageous ruling by the Supreme Court. This is the only form of accountability that this people will understand. Monetary fines means nothing.

These very corporations scramble over each other, putting profits before people and the “ends justify the means” corporate culture and “win at any costs” mentality rule the day. Sadly, these are all arguments for a different day and a different time. We may feel a momentary rise of anger and disbelief at these corporate shenanigans, but in the end, nothing will change, we will go back to our mundane lives, glued to the television for hours a night and life will go on–all part of the pathetic brain-washing of people in the 21st century.

One Comment

  1. Gravatar for Stephen Shenfield
    Stephen Shenfield

    Even jailing corporate managers won't help because the new managers will be under the same pressures to maximize profits. We have to replace the system of production for profit by a system of production for use under the control and in the interest of the whole community.

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