Risperdal is an antipsychotic drug originally formulated to treat schizophrenia. Doctors also prescribe Risperdal for ADHD, autism, depression, anxiety and other behavioral problems. While now approved for most age groups by the Food and Drug Administration, it was only approved for adults prior to 2006. After drug manufacturer Janssen pushed Risperdal’s use in children, many pediatricians prescribed it with no idea of its risks. Fast-forward years later and many male patients developed gynecomastia, which is abnormal male breast growth. Families were often blindsided by this Risperdal side effect. Others claim they wouldn’t have taken Risperdal if the manufacturer disclosed its risks. Some Risperdal victims’ lawsuit filings state Janssen shouldn’t have marketed the drug to pediatricians. Many male Risperdal patients are asking: Why do I have gynecomastia, and how do I get rid of it?
Risperdal Side Effect: Gynecomastia and Glandular Tissue Growth
Many drugs cause weight gain, but Risperdal gynecomastia is very different. Fat develops within regular chest cells, but actual breasts begin as small “breast buds” directly under the nipple. As extra glandular tissue fills these lumps, actual breasts develop. In some men taking Risperdal, they can grow as large as a woman’s size DD. In some instances, men will even produce breast milk.
Dopamine and Prolactin: A Recipe For Male Breast Growth
While many men taking Risperdal suffer from gynecomastia, few understand the connection. How does an antipsychotic medication cause breast growth? While the link is admittedly confusing, it involves two things: the neurotransmitter dopamine and the hormone prolactin.
Risperdal works by blocking dopamine, quelling irritability while treating many mental conditions. Altering the body’s natural levels of neurotransmitters almost always has a direct physical repercussion, however, and blocking dopamine increases levels of prolactin. It’s a naturally occurring hormone in women that spurs breast growth as well as lactation. While men also have small amounts of this hormone present in the body, Risperdal dramatically increases its volume.
The Repercussions of Illegal Marketing
While Janssen did add a small warning label to Risperdal, many users claim the gynecomastia risk wasn’t obvious to physicians or patients. At the forefront of the conversation is the marketing to adolescent males during a time when the drug was not approved by the FDA for their use. Though doctors are able to prescribe the drug in instances they see fit, many claim that a significant sales push was made in the offices of pediatricians and neurologists specifically for the use with young boys.
Johnson & Johnson made an illegal marketing settlement in 2012 in the wake of such claims, but more cases emerge as affected men understand the connection between their gynecomastia and Risperdal use, as well as the liability of the drug maker.
Risperdal Side Effect: Gynecomastia’s Lasting Impact
Johnson & Johnson’s main defense is that gynecomastia isn’t life-threatening. Moreover, patients’ quality of life likely still improved with Risperdal. Research has indicated that while gynecomastia may not be fatal, it can leave a lasting psychological and physical impact on an affected individual, however – especially in young men.
Boys prescribed Risperdal often grew male breasts during middle school and high school, a time when they are susceptible to their peers’ taunting as well as diminished self esteem. Those who experienced the Risperdal side effect gynecomastia at this vulnerable time claim it was a traumatizing experience that has forever altered their confidence and self-image.
In some instances, stopping Risperdal reverses gynecomastia. But oftentimes, patients need surgery to remove enlarged male breasts.
What You Can Do
If you or someone you know developed gynecomastia while taking Risperdal, you may have an eligible case. It’s a good idea to speak with an attorney before filing your Risperdal claim. More men are filing Risperdal lawsuits, and now’s the time to get the damages you deserve. Get your free Risperdal claim review today and an attorney will contact you to discuss your case.
1. Mundy, Alicia. “Risperdal Can Have Troubling Side Effects in Boys.” Health Blog RSS. Accessed April 29, 2015. November 25, 2008.
2. “Risperdal (risperidone).” Netdoctor. Accessed April 29, 2015.
3. “Risperidone: MedlinePlus Drug Information.” U.S National Library of Medicine. Accessed April 29, 2015.
Lori Polemenakos is Director of Consumer Content and SEO strategist for LeadingResponse, a legal marketing company. An award-winning journalist, writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas, she's produced articles for major brands such as Match.com, Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, Xfinity, Mail.com, and edited several published books. Since 2016, she's published hundreds of articles about Social Security disability, workers' compensation, veterans' benefits, personal injury, mass tort, auto accident claims, bankruptcy, employment law and other related legal issues.