Risperidal was the world's first medication approved for treating autism in children, and it's still the most widely prescribed. Upon initial release, it seemed like a miracle drug.
Unquestionably, it effectively manages many of the behavioral difficulties associated with autism. The drug is also used in the treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
But for all its successes, Risperidal has emerged as a dangerous drug for countless patients who suffer serious, long-term side effects and medical complications. These include:
• Development of female breasts in boys (see the report in Bloomberg)
• Type 2 diabetes (according to The New York Times)
• Swelling of breast tissue in older men (gynecomastia)
• Increased appetite and weight gain in children
• Significant drowsiness
• Hormonal changes
• Rash or hives
• Difficulty breathing or swallowing
• Difficulty walking normally
• Involuntary movements
• Painful erection of the penis that lasts for hours
• Increased mortality in elderly patients (see the official FDA warning)
Additionally, the medication is known to more than double the risk of serious adverse events in dementia patients. Risperidal is not approved for the treatment of dementia-related psychosis, but doctors continue to issue off-label prescriptions for that purpose in spite of the risk.
Risperidone is an antipsychotic medication, commonly marketed under the brand name Risperdal (manufactured by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a Johnson & Johnson company), as well as various generic labels.