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Risperdal (Risperidone) Anti-Psychotic Medication Side Effects

Risperdal (Risperidone) Anti-Psychotic Medication  Side Effects  

Parker Waichman LLP is investigating potential lawsuits on behalf of individuals who suffered side effects after taking the anti-psychotic medication Risperdal. This drug, which is manufactured by Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen unit, is used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, dementia, autism and Tourette’s syndrome. However, reports indicate that Risperdal is associated with a number of serious side effects, including gynecomastia, galactorrhea, hyperprolactinemia, breast cancer, pituitary gland tumors and metabolic syndrome. In April 2012, an Arkansas judge fined Janssen and Johnson & Johnson $1.2 billion after a jury found that the companies downplayed the risks of Risperdal. If you or someone you know suffered side effects related to the use of Risperdal, our attorneys would like to speak with you.   

Tumors of the pituitary gland

Pituitary gland tumors have been linked to the use of Risperdal. In 2006, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that such tumors were associated with the use of antipsychotic medications. In addition to pituitary tumors, the study also looked at hyperprolactinemia and galactorrhea. The pituitary gland is a small gland located in the brain. Often referred to as the “master endocrine gland,”  it is responsible for secreting hormones that affect many bodily functions. For this reason, a tumor of the pituitary gland can be related to conditions such as hyperprolactinemia and galactorrhea. Signs of a pituitary tumor include:

  • Headache
  • Vision loss, particularly loss of peripheral vision
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Symptoms of pituitary hormone deficiency
  • Weakness
  • Less frequent or no menstrual periods
  • Body hair loss
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Increased frequency and amount of urination
  • Unintended weight loss or gain

Gynecomastia (breast development in males)

Gynecomastia is the enlargement of breast tissue in males. This condition can affect one or both breasts, and may pose psychological or emotional trauma. In September 2012, Johnson & Johnson settled the first of over 100 lawsuits alleging Risperdal caused breast growth in men. Signs of gynecomastia include swollen breast gland tissue and tenderness. Men afflicted with gynecomastia may also experience:

  • Swelling
  • Pain
  • Tenderness
  • Nipple discharge in one or both breasts

Click here for detailed information on Gynecomastia.

Galactorrhea (lactation)

Galactorrhea is the spontaneous release of milk from the breast that is not related to childbirth or nursing. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms include:

  • Persistent or intermittent milky nipple discharge that has no trace of blood
  • Nipple discharge involving multiple milk ducts
  • Spontaneously leaked or manually expressed nipple discharge
  • One or both breasts affected
  • Absent or irregular menstrual periods
  • Headaches or vision problems

Mayo Clinic also states that problems with the pituitary gland can contribute to galactorrhea; typically, this condition arises from high levels of prolactin, which is the hormone that helps stimulate the production of milk. In 2004, the American Academy of Family Physicians found that “The most common pathologic cause of galactorrhea is a pituitary tumor. Other causes include hypothalamic and pituitary stalk lesions, neurogenic stimulation, thyroid disorders, and chronic renal failure.”


Hyperprolactinemia is when there are excessively high levels of prolactin in the blood. In women, normal levels of prolactin are less than 500 mIU/L. Normal prolactin levels in men are usually less than 450 mIU/L. Prolactin is the hormone responsible for stimulating milk production and is made by the anterior pituitary gland. Johns Hopkins states that this condition can be caused by psychiatric medications or a pituitary gland tumor. Hyperprolactinemia is women may cause:

  • Loss of menstrual cycle and reduced libido
  • Breast milk secretion
  • Infertility
  • In men, hyperprolactinemia can lead to:
  • Progressive loss of libido
  • Impotency
  • Low sperm count
  • Breast enlargement

Breast cancer

In addition to other side effects, use of Risperdal has been linked to breast cancer. According to, this association is due to the fact that neuroleptics, including Risperdal, can increase the levels of prolactin. Approximately one third of breast cancer cases are believed to be related to prolactin levels. Caution should be used when prescribing Risperdal to a patient with a history of breast cancer.

Breast cancer is cancer that forms in the tissues of the breast. Although it is much more common in women, breast cancer can also affect men. According to Mayo Clinic, signs of breast cancer include:

  • A breast lump or thickening that feels different from the surrounding tissue
  • Bloody discharge from the nipple
  • Change in the size or shape of a breast
  • Changes to the skin over the breast, such as dimpling
  • Inverted nipple
  • Peeling, scaling or flaking of the nipple or breast skin
  • Redness or pitting of the skin over your breast, like the skin of an orange

Metabolic syndrome

Metabolic syndrome means that a patient has several conditions simultaneous that increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes, according to the Mayo Clinic. A patient is considered to have metabolic syndrome if they have three or more of the following conditions:

  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • High blood sugar
  • High cholesterol

Because Risperdal is a neuroleptic that can lead to weight gain, it may significantly increase the risk of any of these conditions, leading to metabolic syndrome.

Legal Help for Victims of Risperdal Side Effects

If you or a loved one suffered side effects that you believe to be caused by Risperdal, you may have valuable legal rights. Please fill out our online form or call 1(800)-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529) to speak with one of our experienced drug injury lawyers today.


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