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The anti-psychotic drug originally intended to treat adults with schizophrenia has been linked to a number of side effects, including the abnormal growth of breast tissue, in the children it was prescribed to throughout the early 2000s.
After the drug was approved for use in children in the early 2000s, researchers began to ask; “can Risperdal cause gynecomastia?” Unfortunately, the answer was “yes.”
Risperdal works by affecting certain areas of the brain to hinder the activity of dopamine; however, the drug also affects the area of the brain responsible for hormones in the body – the pituitary gland.
According to researchers, Risperdal causes gynecomastia by stimulating the pituitary gland and disrupting metabolic processes resulting in the production of prolactin.
Prolactin is the hormone that usually stimulates the growth and development of breast tissue in pregnant and nursing women; however, when the hormone is produced in children and young men, it causes abnormal growth in breast tissue – a condition known as gynecomastia.
Symptoms of Risperdal caused gynecomastia include growth in the breast area, swollen or enlarged nipples, discharge from nipples, and pain or tenderness in the area. In addition to abnormal breast growth, Risperdal side effects also includes weight gain, involuntary tremors, diabetes, and lethargy.
Unfortunately, if Risperdal causes gynecomastia, the resulting breast tissue is permanent unless the affected person undergoes painful breast removal or reduction surgery.
Additionally, some of the children taking Risperdal also lactated, creating a confusing emotional reaction to the effects of the drug.
A recent study in Canada identified the emotional effects of Risperdal caused gynecomastia.
“Gynecomastia carries a high psychological burden in young men (Kinsella et al. 2012). Given the availability of other antipsychotics with a lower propensity for gynecomastia, the risk of gynecomastia in adolescent boys and younger men must be quantified so that clinicians can make a more informed decision when considering prescribing risperidone to this patient population,” states the researchers in their report.
Researchers also discovered that a much higher percentage of boys and young men taking the drug were afflicted with abnormal breast growth – almost four times higher than those who did not take the drug.
The makers of Risperdal are facing hundreds of lawsuits over the drug’s alleged side effects in children. Janssen and Johnson & Johnson made billions off the drug and it is still prescribed currently. In fact, it brings in around $3 billion a year for the companies.
Children were prescribed Risperdal starting in the late 1990s; however, the statute of limitations is running on legal action available to those who suffered from Risperdal caused gynecomastia and other side effects.
McDonald Worley attorneys are investigating cases of Risperdal caused gynecomastia and other side effects. If you or a loved one took Risperdal and are concerned about side effects, consider contacting them immediately to ensure time doesn’t run out.