Today, when we look back on the methods used in insane asylums, we cringe that we could ever be so barbaric toward people with chemical imbalances. But at the time very little was known about psychosis (and other diseases). In an effort to return their brain to normal the hospital staff tried methods such as electric shock, casting out the demons, and if all else failed they simply severed nerve endings by performing a lobotomy. We now understand how the chemicals serotonin and dopamine work together to help us think clearly. By understanding them, we can treat psychosis with drugs such as Risperdal. |
A Brief History of Risperdal
In 1993 Janssen Pharmaceuticals had a breakthrough in their drug research. They developed Risperdal, an atypical antipsychotic drug was the first of its kind that treated the symptoms of psychosis (namely schizophrenia) without major adverse side effects. The drug saw nearly instant success. For the first 10 years the drug was only approved by the FDA for the treatment of schizophrenia in adults. However, in 2003 that approval was expanded to treating bipolar disorder. In 2006, the FDA also approved the drug for treating schizophrenia in those aged 10-17. This treatment was a breakthrough in allowing youth suffering from psychosis to think clearly. Unfortunately, it had one major side effect.
Gynecomastia and Galactorrhea
As a child is developing his or her body goes through some immense changes. For young men, this means that many young men will notice that their breasts become swollen and often tender to the touch. Most of the time this change is not noticeable and quickly goes away. When a young man is taking Risperdal, however, the drug causes the pituitary glands to release an overabundance of prolactin. This hormone is naturally found in nursing mothers, and causes the breasts to develop and produce milk. This is great for young mothers; it is terrible for adolescent men. While the condition gynecomastia (growing breasts) is not life threatening, it is painful and embarrassing. If left untreated it can progress to the point where they adolescent starts to produce milk (galactorrhea). The physical effects are only reversed through a series of cosmetic surgeries. Surgeries that leave physical scars of the painful emotional scarring caused by bullying, shaming, and taunting.
Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer
If you, or a loved one, have taken Risperdal and suffered from this condition, you may be entitled to compensation. Contact a personal injury lawyer to find out what your recourse may be. The drug manufacturer Janssen Pharmaceuticals (a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson) failed to properly warn about these side effects when the drug was made available. And it is their responsibility to make up for their mistakes.
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