Are There Any Severe Risperdal Side Effects?
Users of Risperdal have reported severe, life-changing side effects, which include young male users growing breast tissue.
Risperdal (risperidone) is an antipsychotic drug. The drug is made by Janssen, which is a partner of Johnson & Johnson. It was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1994. In 2007, the year when Risperdal sales peaked, makers of the drug earned more than $4.5 billion. Use of Risperdal has been expanded to treatment of schizophrenia in children, autism in children, and bipolar disorder in children and adults.
How Does Risperdal Work?
Risperdal works by lowering the activity of dopamine in the brain. It was supposed to have fewer severe side effects than other drugs like it. Sadly, many of the side effects Risperdal does have are severe.
There are many common side effects linked to Risperdal. Some ease over time. Many of these are mild, but can have an impact on a user’s life.
Common side effects of the drug include:
- Dizzy feeling
- Blurred vision
- Increased heart beat
- Increased saliva
- Restless feeling
- Increased appetite and weight gain
- Prolonged erection of the penis
Risperdal and Gynecomastia
Risperdal has been shown to boost the hormone known as prolactin in users. This hormone is produced by the pituitary gland and is high when a woman is pregnant or nursing. High levels increase breast tissue and help the body produce milk.
Researchers believe Risperdal triggers the pituitary gland, leading to increased prolactin levels for both male and female users. Many male users of the drug have gotten breast tissue, a condition known as gynecomastia. This is a permanent condition. Along with the changes in the body, boys with this side effect tend to suffer emotionally and psychologically, as well.
Female Risperdal users have also grown breast tissue sooner than normal and also lactated when they were not pregnant.
Risperdal and Other Side Effects
There is also a link between the drug and pituitary tumors. Studies have shown users have shown a 70 percent increase in risk for increases in the pituitary gland and tumors that disrupt the production of hormones in the body.
Risperdal has been shown to trigger movement disorders in users. Common symptoms shared by most anti-psychotic drugs include:
- Hesitated movement or not able to move at all
- Parkinson’s type tremors
- Abnormal facial, shoulder, and limb movements
- Stiffening of the tongue
- Muscle rigidity
Symptoms tend to last even when Risperdal use is stopped, and most patients require drugs to control their symptoms.
Risperdal is not approved for use with elderly patients, and older users who have been given the drug to treat dementia have experienced heart attacks, pneumonia, stroke, and other cardiac emergencies. Due to the danger, the FDA now require a black box warning be posted on Risperdal packaging to alert patient to the risk of problems.
Risperdal and Diabetes
There is also a chance Risperdal and other drugs like it could increase the risk for high blood sugar in users with diabetes. There might also be a heightened risk for ketoacidosis. You should have regular blood sugar check-ups if you are taking Risperdal.
So far, Janssen and Johnson & Johnson have paid billions of dollars in fines as a result of their Risperdal marketing. Though a drug can be prescribed by a doctor for an off-label use (not approved by the FDA), makers of the drug are not supposed to market the drug for those uses.
There have also been many recalls linked to the making and shipping of Risperdal. The company faces hundreds of lawsuits from boys who now have breast tissue, and from users who had other side effects after using the drug. Most of the lawsuits claim the makers of the drug were aware of problems and failed to warn doctors and patients.
If you are a male Risperdal user and now have breast tissue, or you had any other side effects after using the drug, contact a lawyer.