A growing number of children are being diagnosed with disorders such as schizophrenia, autism and bipolar disorder. Until recently, a common medication used to treat these disorders has been Risperdal. Manufactured by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, the company has recently come under fire for downplaying the risks associated with this drug and their misleading marketing efforts.
What is Risperdal?
Risperdal is officially known as Risperidone, and is manufactured by a subsidiary of Johnson and Johnson. It was first approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1994 for the treatment of certain psychological disorders. This drug may be administered via an oral tablet or intramuscular injection and is one of only a handful of medications approved for use in children ages 10-17.
Possible Side Effects
A number of side effects have been noted from the use of this medication, including:
- Unusual weight gain
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Oral rash
- Increased appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Excessive salivation
- Upper abdominal pain
- Sleep disturbances
- Frequent headaches
An unusual side effect has also been noticed in adolescent boys. Risperdal gynecomastia, which involves the growth of breast tissue in males, is a common side effect that may or may not go away when the drug is discontinued.
Nervous System Changes
Although there is some indication that Risperdal eases the effects of certain disorders initially, it can actually make them worse when taken over time. In addition, changing doses or stopping this medication can also cause extreme changes in the nervous system, which can even be life threatening. Some patients have even experienced schizophrenia-like symptoms during the withdrawal phase, even when taking this drug for other purposes. As such, patients who are withdrawing from Risperdal must do so under the watchful eye of a licensed physician in order to prevent serious harm.
Previous Risperidone Lawsuits
An Arkansas lawsuit has resulted in Johnson and Johnson and Janssen Pharmaceuticals being fined $1.2 billion in fines due to negligence. The company has also agreed to a $181 million settlement to cover damages to patients in 36 different states. Among the allegations include:
- Medicaid fraud
- Violations of the Arkansas deceptive practices law
- Promotion of the drug for unapproved uses
- Misleading and potentially illegal marketing techniques
- Promoting the overmedication of children
Parents of children who have suffered ill effects after taking Risperdal could be able to recover damages in a court of law. Those who continue to take this medication should carefully consider the possible risks associated with it in order to prevent long term health effects as a result.
Getting Legal Assistance
There is a lot of emotional trauma involved with medication side-effects. People who have been injured should seek the help of a legal professional. Call 713.766.5400 to evaluate your case today.