Dangerous Drugs

In 1994 the US Food and Drug Administration approved the use of Risperdal for patients suffering from schizophrenia and bipolar disorders. This anti-psychotic drug from Janssen-Cilag, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, though, wasn’t just any kind of drug. First, it was claimed safe by its developer and, second, was proven effective by doctors and by those who used it. Thus, it eventually gained acceptance, so that, by the latter part of 2011, 23% of the more than 54 million antipsychotic drugs prescribed to the millions of Americans, who were battling against schizophrenia or the symptoms of bipolar disorder, was Risperdal.

Risperdal’s other brand names are Risperdal M-Tab and Risperdal Consta, while, generically, it is known as Risperidone. This drug is said to cause interference in the communication process of the brain nerves, thus, affecting brain functions. Specifically, Risperdal is formulated to block nerve receptors, to which the brain’s neurotransmitters attach themselves. By doing this, the drug is able to alter any incidence of abnormal brain communication, which is the cause of psychotic illness.

It may probably be considered as one of the greatest dangers that befall claimed safe and effective prescription drugs, which is these being recommended for non-label use, that is for an illness other than that approved by the FDA. To this danger Risperdal was not exempt as doctors also began prescribing the drug to treat obsessive-compulsive disorders, stuttering, attention deficit disorder (ADD) in children, behavioral disorders in elders suffering from dementia, depression, anxiety and Tourette syndrome (a neurological illness characterized by involuntary vocalizations, tics and tan incontrollable utterance of obscenities).

That Risperdal really worked is one thing that cannot be denied, but so are the claims of complications and side-effects due to its use. In fact, years before it earned wide acceptance in 2011 there were already reports (of its prolonged use) as causing gynecomastia in male children and adolescents (gynecomastia is the enlargement or development of breasts; solution to this traumatic male condition can be liposuction or mastectomy, the surgical procedure for the removal of a breast); on this case alone, as many as 130 were reported in 2006.

There are many other complications linked to the use of Risperdal. According to the website of law firm Williams Kherkher, these complications can include:

  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Suicide or suicidal thoughts
  • Hyperglycemia or high blood sugar
  • Pancreatitis (or inflammation of the pancreas)
  • Bone loss
  • Pituitary tumors (the abnormal growth of cells in the pituitary gland)
  • Galactorrhea (inappropriate or excessive production of milk)
  • Arrhythmia (irregular or abnormal heart beat)
  • Neuroleptic malignant syndrome or NMS (a deadly neurological disorder that is caused by an adverse reaction to antipsychotic drugs
  • Increased death rate in the elderly suffering from dementia
  • Heart attack

The health risks resulting from the use of Risperdal could very well be a case of negligence which, according to the website of Williams Kherkher, is one of the factors that threatens the safety of many antipsychotic patients in the US. Though no harm may be intended by the drug’s developer Janssen-Cilag, the potentially life-threatening effects it can cause are reasons enough for affected patients to pursue legal action for the possible compensation for their losses.

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