Over the years, there has been a growth in the number of product liability lawsuits related to Risperdal, an anti-psyhotic medication, mainly used for treating schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and autism. The lawsuits have been directed to Johnson & Johnson, the company that manufactures the medicine. According to the website of Williams Kherker, the US Food & Drug Administration has issued several warnings related to the drug emphasizing on its dangers.

According to allegations raised in the lawsuits, Johnson & Johnson failed to provide sufficient warnings to consumers and the medical community about the risk of gynecomastia for boys. The condition involves the growth of breasts among males. Aside from that, the company also encouraged the use of the drugs for the unapproved treatment of AD/HD in children. To date, the company has been fined more than $1.2 billion for this false marketing. According to records, Johnson & Johnson was aware of these complications but did not properly warn patients.

In 2003, the FDA approved the drug as a short-term treatment of adults and children more than 10 years old with bipolar disorder and experiencing mania, a condition characterized by episodes of unusually excited moods. Likewise, it is prescribed for treating mixed episodes of people experiencing symptoms of both mania and depression.

Moreover, risperidone is also prescribed for children 5 to 16 years old who are suffering from autism, a condition that causes repetitive behavior and difficulty communicating and interacting with other people. It can help reduce symptoms that include aggression, self-injury, and sudden mood change.

Risperdal is not approved for use by patients with psychotic conditions related to dementia. Studies have shown that older adults with dementia who take antipsychotic drugs like risperidone are prone to risk of death during treatment. In addition, they are at a greater risk of experiencing stroke or ministroke during treatment. The FDA did not approve the use of risperidone for treating behavior problems in older adults with dementia.

However, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, the company that manufactures the drug, marketed Risperdal as a treatment for agitated adults with dementia. For doing so, the company had to pay a hefty fine for falsely marketing Risperdal.

What are the side effects of Risperdal?

When taking Risperdal, you may show sensitivity to extreme weather conditions. Avoid getting too cold or becoming overheated or dehyrdated. Take lots of fluids especially when its hot or when exercising. It can be easy to become overheated or dehydrated when taking this medication.

The drug may also impair your ability to think or react. Be careful when driving or doing anything that requires alertness. Drinking alcohol can also boost certain side effects associated with the drug. Inform your doctor if you are experiencing fever, stiffness in the muscles, confusion, sweating, fast or uneven heartbeats, restless muscle movements in the face or neck, tremor, difficulty in swallowing, a feeling of light-headedness or fainting.

Precautions before taking the medicine

To make sure that Risperdal is safe for you, the Mayo Clinic recommends that you tell your doctor if you have the following conditions:

• Heart disease, high blood pressure, heart rhythm problems
• Coronary artery disease or recent heart attack
• Diabetes
• History of low white blood cell count
• Liver or kidney disease
• History of seizures or breast cancer
• Low bone mineral density
• Trouble swallowing
• Dehydration
• Taking blood pressure medicine

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