Risperdal 101: What You Need to Know About the Potentially Dangerous Drug

Published on June 16, 2015 by

Risperdal (chemical name Risperidone) is a drug that was created to treat several different mental health conditions, including ADHD, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. It may also be used to treat irritability in patients with autism.

Risperdal is part of a class of drugs known as second generation antipsychotics (SGAs), or "atypical" antipsychotics. Medications in this class were developed in the 1990s in response to some of the problems experienced by patients taking first generation antipsychotics (FGAs). Among these problems was the risk of movement disorders like tardive dyskinesia and a condition known as hyperprolactinemia, which is characterized by a significant increase in the body's production of the hormone prolactin. Scientists hoped that Risperdal and the other SGAs would work as well as FGAs without as many side effects.

How Does it Work?

Scientists currently believe that some of the symptoms of mental health problems, such as ADHD and schizophrenia, are the result of elevated dopamine levels. Risperdal works to alleviate these symptoms by normalizing the patients' dopamine levels over time.

Risperdal is a dopamine antagonist, which means that it blocks the receptors in the brain that typically bond with dopamine. However, because brain function is so complex and difficult to study, scientists are not sure exactly how this process works. It is also difficult for scientists to determine exactly how Risperdal will affect the other regions of the brain, especially since results can differ from one patient to another.

Is it Safe?

Many people mistakenly believe that, because Risperdal has been approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration, scientists know exactly how it works and have proven its safety for patients. However, even though psychopharmacology has made significant advancement in the past century, the science used to study the effects of drugs on the brain and body is still relatively new, and these processes are not easily understood. Furthermore, the eagerness of drug manufacturers to release their products often results in poorly-designed research studies and hasty requests for approval.

When Is it Prescribed?

After being approved for use in adults, Risperdal was primarily prescribed to treat bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and similar conditions in this population. However, Janssen Pharmaceuticals also encouraged its off-label usage for children and adolescents suffering from ADHD, autism and other such conditions, as well as for elderly patients suffering from dementia.

In our next blog we will discuss the Gynecomastia epidemic caused by the off-label use of Risperdal to boys and young men.

If you believe that you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of gynecomastia after using Risperdal, discuss these symptoms with your doctor as soon as possible. If you are interested in pursuing legal action as a result of your experience with Risperdal, contact the team here at Marc Whitehead & Associates, LLP by calling 855-423-3666. We will be happy to review your case and explain your options.

For more information regarding the harm of Risperdal, download a free copy of our e-book, Risperdal: The Shocking Truth-Marketing Fraud Adds Up to Billion$ While Boys & Young Men are Irreparably Harmed. Be sure to check back each week for more updated information on the legal battle against the manufacturers of Risperdal.