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Recently, Sheller, P.C., a Philadelphia law firm, filed 10 lawsuits regarding the drugs Risperdal and Invega. The suits were filed on behalf of boys and young men who suffered serious side effects, such as rapid gain and the growth of breasts while using Risperdal and Invega, which are antipsychotic medications. The FDA-approved uses for Risperdal in children and adolescents are as a treatment for schizophrenia, bipolar mania, and autism symptoms. However, 70% of all patients who use Risperdal, were prescribed the drug for off-label uses, such treatment for ADD, Tourette Syndrome and disruptive behavior.

In addition to the Philadelphia Risperdal lawsuits filed by Sheller, P.C., the firm also has 10 similar cases pending in New Jersey. Many of the boys at the center of these lawsuits suffered mental anguish and embarrassment from the drugs’ side effects, including some who developed breasts that require surgical removal. According to the lawsuits, the maker of Risperdal, Janssen, actively promoted off-label use of Rispersal and failed to adequately warn doctors of the drug’s serious possible side effects. Though doctors can prescribe a drug for an off-label use, drug companies are prohibited from promoting uses that are not FDA-approved.

Risperdal and Invega are made by Janssen, a division of Ortho-McNeil-Janssen, which is a part of Johnson & Johnson. In addition to the pharmaceutical companies, also named in the lawsuits are Excerpta Media, Inc. and its parent Elsevier Science Publishing Co., which helped publish ghostwritten studies of the drugs. Stephen Sheller asserts that the companies should have known that the articles were misleading or exaggerated.

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