Risperdal (also risperidone) is a prescription antipsychotic medication distributed by Johnson and Johnson, and used to treat the symptoms of schizophrenia in people 13 years and older. The drug was approved for use by the FDA in 1993. Risperdal has more recently been approved for use in children in smaller doses to treat autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), bipolar disorder, insomnia, anxiety, and depression. Doses can vary from 0.5 mg to 8 mg per day. The drug can be prescribed in two forms, oral and injection. The injection form of the drug is known as Risperdal Consta.
While the drug may successfully relieve some symptoms of the aforementioned disorders, it has recently been linked to serious side effects. Some known side effects of Risperdal include, but are not limited to: gynecomastia, tardive dyskinesia, metabolic changes (such as weight gain,), and seizures. These side effects have been observed not only in men and women, but also in children.
Risperdal Side Effects
Gynecomastia is the growth and development of breast tissue in males. This is generally the cause of a hormone imbalance in the body, specifically excess prolactin, the hormone that stimulates breast growth and sustains lacation in females. These elevated levels of prolactin not only cause breast growth in male children, but can also result in lactation (a milky discharge from the nipple area). Once a male has been diagnosed with gynecomastia, the only way that the breast tissue can be removed is to have a painful breast reduction surgery or a masectomy. This is a physically and mentally draining experience for those who must undergo the surgery.
In some cases, because prolactin is produced by the pituitary gland, the pituitary gland can grow in size and lead to the growth of pituitary tumors. These tumors can potentially lead to other issues such as headaches and vision problems.
Tardive dyskinesia is a neurological disorder associated with involuntary tics and body movements. Some examples of some types of body movements associated with Tardive Dyskinesia include, but are not limited to, excessive blinking, grimacing, lip smacking, and tongue movements. While the exact link between the drug and the disorder is still being debated, tardive dyskinesia has been linked to Risperdal usage, and is very difficult, and in some cases impossible, to treat.
On account of serious side effects such as these the FDA has asked Johnson and Johnson to include a warning label on their product that describes the potential risks of taking Risperdal. Eventually the accounts of these alarming side effects made its way to the U.S. federal government, and, as a part of a $2.2 billion settlement, the U.S. Department of Justice is requiring that the manufacturer admits that the drug causes harmful side effects such as breast growth in men and boys.