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Safety of Risperdal Called Into Question

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Hundreds of plaintiffs have filed claims against Risperdal manufacturers Janssen Pharmaceuticals and parent company Johnson & Johnson (J&J).  Plaintiffs claim that the anti-psychotic drug caused male patients to develop breast tissue.

In 2006, a study found that the drug increased prolactin levels among adolescents which can lead to gynecomastia, or the development of breast tissue.

Risperdal Marketed to Treat Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder and Autism

Risperdal is considered an atypical anti-psychotic drug, first approved by the FDA to treat adults with schizophrenia in 1993.  It was then approved for bipolar disorder in 2003, in 2006 for teens and children with autism and in 2007 for children aged 13-17 and bipolar disorder for children aged 10-17.

Schizophrenia affects about 1% of Americans in the United States.  Symptoms may include hallucinations, delusions, losing touch with reality, thought disorders, movement disorders, disruptions to normal behaviors and emotions.

Bipolar disorder causes sudden shifts in a person’s mood, and activity levels.  Someone with bipolar disorder is considered manic-depressive, which means they will have moments of being overly excited, a “manic episode,” followed by a sad, or “depressive” state.

Unlike older antipsychotic drugs, Risperdal, helps to maintain appropriate levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain.

Serotonin is connected to alertness, sleep, sexual activity, learning, eating, impulsivity, and memory.  A chemical imbalance with serotonin can contribute to mood disorders.

Dopamine is connected with the pleasure system of the brain.  If this brain chemical is disturbed it can cause psychosis and schizophrenia.

The third disorder Risperdal is marketed to treat is autism.  Autism is also a brain disorder, with symptoms that range from mild to severe, jointly called autism spectrum disorder, or ASD.  Children diagnosed with autism can have difficulty communicating with others, social impairment, and repetitive behaviors.

Risperdal works by helping to reduce aggression, temper tantrums and irritability in those affected by autism.

With all three of these disorders, Risperdal is meant to treat these symptoms, not cure them completely.  Never stop or start taking Risperdal without first consulting your physician.