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
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
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.