In 1993 Janssen Pharmaceuticals developed a drug called Risperdal. This atypical antipsychotic revolutionized the market and provided relief to those suffering from mental illness. Before this drug cam around, there was little that could be done. |
Antipsychotic drugs are divided into two categories. There are typical, and atypical varieties, with the difference being the hormones that they target. The typical antipsychotics help to control just dopamine in the brain, while the atypical help to control both the dopamine and the serotonin levels. The result is that those who suffer from mental illness can have some sort of relief.
Before Risperdal hit the market there was really only one atypical antipsychotic drug around. This drug, however, caused a severe shortage of white blood cells and was largely unused except in extreme instances.
But that changed in 1993. Risperdal became approved for adults who suffer from schizophrenia, and suddenly there was a way to control their thought processes and make sure they were able to think clearly again. By the mid 2000’s the drug was approved for use in juveniles.
In 2008 Risperdal lost its patent. Because it was a huge money maker for Janssen Pharmaceuticals they wanted a way to replace the lost revenue. The answer was to “develop” the drug Invega. Invega is a metabolite of Risperdal, and is essentially the same drug. But it was different enough to the FDA, and in 2009, Janssen had another patent on a leading atypical antipsychotic drug.
The problem, however, is that neither of these drugs are entirely safe to use. In fact, both can cause young men (all men actually, but young men are more susceptible) to grow breasts. This breast growth, called gynecomastia, is a severe side effect that was never fully warned about. While it does not cause any life threatening harm to the individual, it is irreversible. Those who suffer from gynecomastia must have the breasts surgically removed.
Now consider this: you are a young man who suffers from a mental illness. You likely are teased and bullied at school. You start a drug that helps you think clearly, but it causes you to gain weight. That weight gain masks the breasts that are developing, and if not caught soon enough you start to lactate. Now you are a young man, with a mental illness, who has breasts and is producing milk. For many the taunting, shaming, and shunning would be too much. Once the problem is identified you are able to go off the Risperdal or Invega, and have the breasts surgically removed. But now you have physical scars that constantly remind you of this horrendous period in your life.
Many feel Janssen owes it to those whom they have hurt to provide compensation for medical expenses and therapy that will be needed over the years.
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Invega, Risperdal, antipsychotic,