Invega and Gynecomastia
It must seem a little like the movie Groundhog Day around Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, right about now. Another of the organization’s antipsychotic drugs, Invega (paliperidone), is starting to be mentioned in the media as a potential target for lawsuits to be brought by gynecomastia patients.
This comes on the heels of a flurry of legal action against Johnson & Johnson by patients who took another Janssen drug, Risperdal (risperidone), and developed gynecomastia. The door opened wide for lawsuits after investigations proved that Johnson & Johnson aggressively marketed the drug for uses and populations beyond those approved by the Food and Drug Administration. The company settled with the federal government and a number of states last year, agreeing to pay more than $2 billion. Legal action on behalf of more states and individual patients continues.
Invega and Risperdal are prescribed primarily to treat psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Invega is a newer medication, and it incorporates time-release technology. Otherwise, the two drugs are very similar.
Both medications control serotonin and dopamine levels in the brain, chemicals that can trigger psychotic symptoms. A known side effect of Invega and Risperdal is increased prolactin production. Secreted by the pituitary gland, prolactin is a hormone with a number of roles, including stimulation of breast tissue.
The buzz has focused mainly on Risperdal to date, due to the drug’s widespread use and the numerous lawsuits that have ensued. As a newer drug with just a fraction of the market share enjoyed by Risperdal, Invega has a much smaller patient base. But the settlement agreed to by Johnson & Johnson last year did name both drugs, with the New York Times reporting that the agreement would “resolve accusations” that the company inappropriately promoted Invega.
It seems unlikely that Invega lawsuits will pop up with anywhere near the frequency and frenzy of Risperdal action. But because the drugs are related and gynecomastia is an acknowledged side effect of both, some lawsuits are inevitable. One law firm suggests that Janssen Pharmaceuticals did not provide enough warning on its labels and hid the risk of gynecomastia to boost profits.
For patients who have taken one of these drugs and developed man boobs, understanding and navigating legal issues may be challenging. Learning about gynecomastia and its treatment is simple in contrast: plastic surgery is the only way to banish the excess breast tissue.
We perform gynecomastia surgery in New York City hundreds of times each year, and we’re experienced in treating guys whose cases have been triggered by drugs like Invega and Risperdal. Read more about our work with patients, and visit our site dedicated to gynecomastia treatment. We welcome guys to come in to see us for consultations.