Consumer Reports released an article stating that the number of children who are prescribed antipsychotic medications is increasing at an alarming rate. Studies show that this number has nearly tripled over the last 10 years, not because there is an increase in the number of kids diagnosed with serious mental illnesses, but because more physicians are prescribing these medications to treat behavior problems.
Physicians continue to prescribe antipsychotics, including Risperdal, to young children and adolescents even though there is little evidence that the drug is beneficial when it is used as approved, much less when it is prescribed for off-label purposes such as behavioral problems. Additionally, clinical trials have suggested that the medication may cause serious Risperdal side effects including type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, weight gain and gynecomastia, or the development of male breasts.
More Physicians Prescribing Antipsychotics
Some researchers feel that the sudden increasing in the prescription of Risperdal and other antipsychotics results from parents seeking an alternative, easy solution to their children’s behavioral issues. According to one professor, there is, unfortunately, a trend within society to search for the quick fix or the “magic bullet” that will erase or correct these disruptive behaviors. However, those looking for an easy solution may find that there is no such thing.
The increase of these antipsychotic prescriptions may also be attributed to other factors, including a lack of access to quality healthcare and aggressive drug marketing. Studies have shown that Risperdal use is high among children receiving Medicaid as it is often difficult to find decent non-medicated help. Additionally, even children who have private insurance may not have coverage for counseling or psychiatric care.
As a result, an increasing number of physicians are turning to Risperdal and other antipsychotics as a first-line response to symptoms of mental health complications, prompting a statement from the American Psychiatric Association that healthcare providers should avoid taking this action, particularly in children, unless the medication is intended to treat schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.
However, although Risperdal has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in children with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, it has recently become apparent that the majority of kids are not taking the drug for these reasons. Instead, physicians are prescribing Risperdal, among other antipsychotics, for off-label uses including diagnosed behavior problems and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which involve a higher percentage of children than those with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
Additionally, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, data collected between 1994 and 2011 demonstrates that the number of children diagnosed with mental and behavioral disorders has been steadily increasing, but the study did not speculate as to causes for the increase.
Children Experienced Risperdal Side Effects
While studies show that Risperdal may actually make certain mental health disorders worse in some children, others are allegedly experiencing adverse Risperdal side effects including gynecomastia, or the development of male breasts, while taking the drug. It has recently come to light that taking Risperdal may increase the body’s level of prolactin, the hormone responsible for milk production in mothers and for breast development in young girls.
According to a 2006 study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, boys who have taken Risperdal may test positive for high levels of prolactin and may experience Risperdal side effects including gynecomastia. Researchers warned that long-term side effects are not well-studied concerning puberty and growth delays, so caution should be exercised when physicians are prescribing Risperdal to young children and adolescents.
Are You Eligible to Seek Compensation for Your Risperdal Side Effects?
If you or a loved one have developed gynecomastia or you experienced symptoms of the condition including nipple discharge, swelling and breast pain, contact Bernstein Liebhard, LLP at (855) 511-1001 to learn more about filing a claim and recovering compensation for your condition. After our free, no-obligation case evaluation, we will help you to determine if you may be entitled to recover damages including pain and suffering, psychological trauma and medical expenses such as any procedures you need to remove the swollen or affected breast tissue.