Risperdal and Invega, both to which are Second-Generation Antipsychotic (SGA) drugs, are linked to serious side effects including breast development in males, diabetes, movement disorder, sudden cardiac arrest and worst, death.
The U.S Food and Drug Administration approved both Risperdal and Invega for the purpose of treating schizophrenia. Invega was also approved to treat schizoaffective disorder. Risperdal has been out in the market since the early 90’s while Invega later came out in 2006. Eventually, FDA approved these drugs for further uses including a limited number of autism and bipolar disorders. It was in recent years when whistleblowers and investigators found that Johnson and Johnson’s, the manufacturer of these drugs and its sister company Janssen Pharmaceuticals, have been off-label marketing these drugs emphasizing that these SGAs are capable to treat insomnia, depression, anxiety and Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) on children.
A number of serious adverse effects including Type 2 Diabetes, permanent movement disorders, pituitary tumors and breast development on males are the reasons why there are hundreds of Risperdal and Invega lawsuits filed in cabinets at different states. Billions worth of settlements were already done in between the manufacturer and the federal government. There are also growing numbers of individuals and families who throw lawsuits to J&J.
Overview of the Serious Side Effects of SGA’s
Second Generation Antipsychotics (acronym SGA) drugs are made as alternatives to its first generation versions. SGA’s are also called atypical drugs for the bases that they don’t cause the same level of side effects compared to its predecessor. Although its conception was for the better purpose, SGA’s like Risperdal and Invega still have some harmful adverse effects; some may lead to physical pain and deformities and even emotional trauma.
Note that SGA drugs must not be taken by those who have serious illnesses more specifically for elderlies who have dementia-related conditions as it could even sudden death.
The following medical conditions are seen from those who have taken Risperdal and other anti-psychotic drugs.
• Gynecomastia. Gynecomastia is the most common side effect of Risperdal and this adverse effect have been concealed from the consumers, the reason why there are hundreds of pending lawsuits against the manufacturer of the drug. As of September 2012, more than four hundred Risperdal lawsuits were filed and 130 of them were gynecomastia claims. Gynecomastia is caused by the imbalance of hormones testosterone and estrogen which results to swelling of the breast’s tissues. Gynecomastia may be healed on its own but not for drug-induced condition. Severe Risperdal gynecomastia needs treatment and if the condition persists it may require surgery.
On a clinical test of 1 885 adolescents and children who were taking Risperdal, 43 boys were hit by gynecomastia. Worst case could develop a boy’s breast the size of “D” cups.
• Movement Disorders. These disorders are neurological conditions that affect the quality, speed, fluency and control of one’s movements. Risperdal’s side effects include extrapyramidal symptoms (EPS) or the loss of control over movement and tardive dyskinesia, the involuntary, repetitive moments in the body. If these disorders are not address sooner, they may be irreversible and become permanent.
Movement disorders are also the major effects of First-Generation Antipsychotics and these adverse effects were the reason why SGA’s were made; though, according to medical assessments would conclude that the purpose has not been served.
• Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S taking about seventy thousand lives in 2010. Type 2 diabetes damages the blood vessels and nerves in the heart, kidneys and eyes, which then lead to hardening of the arteries that results to stroke or heart attack.
People who have schizophrenia are already at risk of Type 2 Diabetes and this risk heightens when they take anti-psychotic drugs. These drugs can elevate blood sugar levels and at some rare cases, cause extreme shortage of insulin that could lead to coma or death.
• Pituitary Tumors. Atypical drugs like Risperdal and Invega causes the pituitary gland to grow abnormally because it forces the body to produce more prolactin. This abnormal growth and the abrupt production of hormones may lead to tumors.
• Health Problems and Death. Elderlies who have dementia-related psychosis are advised to stay away from both Risperdal and Invega as specifically stated on the drugs’ black-box warning. Drugs like these increase the risk of sudden cardiac arrest or death. Second-Generation Antipsychotics may also trigger Neuro Malignant Syndrome (NMS) although the condition is rare.
• Weight Gain. Scientists hadn’t found solid evidences why patients who are taking Risperdal gained weight although it happened. According to a study, a person taking Risperdal can increase as much as 4.6 pounds after 10 weeks of medication.
FDA analyzed that both drugs could also cause;
• Abdominal pain
• Akathisia (restlessness)
• Priapism (prolonged penile erection)
Patients who are hit by side effects of Risperdal are advised to seek immediate medical help. The intake of Second-Generation Antipsychotics should not be stopped without a doctor’s opinion as possible relapse and withdrawal symptoms may occur.