Risperdal (risperidone) is an antipsychotic medication manufactured by a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson prescribed for adults and teens in the treatment of schizophrenia, a brain disorder that distorts how an individual thinks and acts, expresses emotions, perceives reality, and relates to others. By altering the effects of chemicals in the brain, Risperdal has also been approved by the FDA to treat the symptoms of bipolar disorder (manic depression) as well as the symptoms of irritability associated with autism in children.
Since the drug’s approval by the FDA in 1993, Risperdal has been linked to a number of side effects––some minor and others being very serious, even fatal. A flood of lawsuits have been filed nationwide in state and federal courts with respect to Risperdal’s numerous and potentially severe health risks.
Risperdal Use for Children with ADHD is on the Rise
Additionally, Risperdal has been prescribed for a number of non FDA-approved uses, known as off-label, with respect to children. Among these off-label uses is prescribing Risperdal in the treatment of severe behavioral problems associated with attention deficit hyperactivity disorders (ADHD) such as moodiness and aggressive and violent behavior. Despite the serious side effects linked to Risperdal, recent studies show that the use of this drug to treat the symptoms of ADHD in children is currently on the rise.
Risperdal Associated With Serious Side Effects and Complications
Through the years, the use of Risperdal has been the subject of a variety of news reports and medical investigations, and has been linked to a number of serious side effects and complications. Although the following list includes some of the less common side effects of Risperdal use, they are the most severe and some are potentially fatal.
- Gynecomastia: Recent studies have linked the use of Risperdal in boys and adult men to the development of female breast tissue known as gynecomastia. This condition may be potentially irreversible and a mastectomy may be required to correct and repair the tissue growth.
- Neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS): A rare but potentially life-threatening neurological reaction to the use of antipsychotic drugs, NMS causes symptoms such as high fever, muscle rigidity, excessive sweating, autonomic instability, delirium, paranoia, confusion, changes in blood pressure, fast or irregular heartbeat, changes in breathing, and excessive sweating. Cases linking NMS directly to Risperdal use have been reported.
- Tardive dyskinesia: This incurable movement disorder causes spasmodic movements, tremor, shuffling, grimacing, lip smacking, and other uncontrollable muscle movements.
- High blood sugar (hyperglycemia) and diabetes: Some studies have suggested Risperdal causes increased risks of high blood sugar and type 2 diabetes. Associated
- symptoms include excessive thirst, increased urination, increased appetite, weakness, confusion, fruity smelling breath, or nausea.
- Stroke: Some strokes and stroke fatalities have been associated with Risperdal, particularly in elderly patients with dementia-related psychosis. In 2005, the FDA issued a black box warning describing this particular risk.
- Weight gain and changes in blood lipid profiles: Increased cholesterol and triglycerides as well as medically serious weight gain are also associated with Risperdal.
- Sexual dysfunction: Risperdal use has been linked to sexual dysfunction, including decreased libido and impaired performance in some patients.
- Cardiovascular problems: Risperdal use has been linked to high blood pressure, heart attack, and palpitations.
- Sudden drop in blood pressure: Symptoms associated with a sudden drop in blood pressure such as dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting when rising too quickly from a sitting or lying position are associated with Risperdal.
- Sustained and elevated prolactin levels: Prolactin is a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland that stimulates lactation (milk production) and can affect menstruation, fertility levels and immune function. The sustained and elevated prolactin levels associated with Risperdal have been linked to symptoms such as missed menstrual periods, leakage of milk from the breasts, breast development in men, and erectile problems.
- Low white blood cell counts: Symptoms of infection including fever, sore throat, rash, or chills accompanying low white blood cell counts have been associated with Risperdal.
- Death: Fatalities, especially those among elderly patients taking Risperdal, are most likely caused by heart failure.
Other Adverse Side Effects of Risperdal
Additionally, a number of minor side effects of Risperdal include the following:
- Temperature Sensitivity
- Impaired thinking
- Sudden/Involuntary muscle movements
- Abdominal muscle and joint pain
- Fatigue and Drowsiness
- Weight gain and increased appetite
Notable Risperdal Settlements and Personal Injury Awards
Over the years, there have been many different types of Risperdal claims filed and several lawsuits have already been settled. Most recently in 2013, Johnson & Johnson subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals settled for $2.2 billion in federal court for illegally marketing and promoting non FDA-approved uses (off-label) for Risperdal in children since the 1990s. Many state governments followed suit reaching similar settlements which also totaled almost $2 billion.
Have Your Case Evaluated by a Qualified Risperdal ADHD Attorney
Timely case evaluation and expert legal advice is critical in complex pharmaceutical litigation. If you or a loved one has experienced serious side effects from taking Risperdal, contact the skilled ADHD Risperdal attorneys at Slack & Davis today for a free and confidential consultation. Our comprehensive team, which includes a full-time legal nurse consultant, provides highly effective counsel as well as compassionate patient-care expertise in enforcing your rights and recovering full compensation for your injuries.