Articles Looks at Parent's Decision on Whether to Start Child on Risperdal

Articles Looks at Parent's Decision on Whether to Start Child on Risperdal

Posted By The Maher Law Firm || 26-Nov-2014

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The risk of her son experiencing unnatural breast growth was one of the many factors weighed by a mother recently portrayed by the New York Times as she decided whether to start her child on the Risperdal antipsychotic drug.

In the article, "One Drug or 2? Parents See Risk but Also Hope," the Times examines the dilemma faced by the mother of a six-year-old child who was already taking the stimulant Adderall for treatment of his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.

The article provides an in-depth look at her decision on whether to start her child on a second drug, Risperdal (risperidone), in order to address behavioral issues that were causing him to experience difficulties at home and at school.

As the article notes, the mother had seen only modest success while using a combination of Adderall, behavior modification strategies and parenting techniques.

Like many parents, the article states, the woman found herself "caught in the middle, having to decide what is best for a child [while] navigating societal and medical pressures."

Little Is Known About Children's Use of Multiple Psychotropic Drugs

As the Times points out, there has been a steady rise in recent years in children taking multiple psychotropic medications.

Citing data from a company that processes prescriptions for about 85 million people in the U.S., the newspaper states that one out of every 54 children between the ages of six and 17 in 2012 who were covered by private insurance were taking at least two psychotropic drugs, or 44 percent more than were doing so just four years earlier.

However, the newspaper states, there is very little known about the effects of multiple psychotropic use by children. The Times even quotes the woman's doctor as stating, "We're really feeling around in the dark with this stuff."

Increased Risks May Be Presented by Risperdal

As she contemplated starting her child on Risperdal, the Times reports, the mother asked her child's doctor about the long-term effects of the antipsychotic medication.

The doctor explained the drug's link to weight gain and diabetes. He also stated that Risperdal's interaction with drugs such as Adderall had "barely been studied" and acknowledged that he has never prescribed both medications for a child as young as the woman's son.

The article notes that, according to current American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry guidelines, the practice of combining antipsychotic drugs with other psychotropic medications has "not been studied rigorously" and "should be avoided if possible."

The article also discusses the mother's concern after she saw a TV commercial warning that Risperdal may cause men to develop breasts.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Risperdal (risperidone), which is manufactured by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary), for the treatment of schizophrenia and irritability associated with autism. It may also be prescribed for short-term treatment of bipolar disorder.

However, when risperidone is administered to children, it can increase levels of prolactin, a hormone that leads to the development of breast tissue, according to a study published in 2006 in The Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology.

This possible side effect - known as gynecomastia - also was the subject of a more recent study presented in March 2014 at the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry Annual Meeting and published in October 2014 in The Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology.

As MedScape reports, the study found that men who used risperidone and a similar drug had a 69 percent greater risk of developing enlarged breasts than those who did not use the drugs.

Mother's Decides to Hold Off On Risperdal

According to the article, the mother has decided to wait on making a decision on whether to start her child on Risperdal. Instead, she has opted to keep her child on Adderall while allowing his school to develop and present to her an individual education plan for him.

At The Maher Law Firm, we understand the difficult decisions that parents face when it comes to allowing their children to begin taking medications, especially antipsychotic drugs such as Risperdal. We also understand the devastating emotional, physical and financial harm that can result when these drugs lead to side effects.

If you or a loved one is a young man who has developed unnatural breast growth after taking Risperdal, please contact us to speak with an Orlando Risperdal lawyer about your legal rights and options.

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