Older Adults Taking Risperdal May Run Greater Risk for Kidney Problems, Study Finds

Published on August 20, 2014 by Sandy Liebhard

A new study finds that older patients taking Risperdal, an antipsychotic drug approved to treat schizophrenia and other conditions, may be more likely to develop acute kidney injuries.

Research published August 19th in Annals of Internal Medicine showed individuals also taking Seroquel (Quetaipine) and Zyprexa (olanzapine) were one and a half times more likely to suffer these injuries than similar adults not taking the medications. The risk for low blood pressure and acute urinary retention in patients taking Risperdal and other antipsychotic drugs also doubled, as did the risk of death from any cause. These medications were also associated with an increased risk of heart attack and pneumonia, according to research.

Risperdal has been cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat adult schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in adults and adolescents ages 10-to-17, as well as irritability in children with autism. According to numerous Risperdal lawsuit claims, the drug has been prescribed off-label to elderly dementia patients and children before it was approved for pediatric uses in 2006.

Study Lends Evidence to Concerns about Risperdal, other Antipsychotic Drugs

Findings involving Risperdal and other drugs do not confirm a direct correlation between these drugs and kidney damage, but they do lend evidence to existing concerns, the study’s authors conclude. “I understand why people are turning to these medications when older people are difficult to manage and you’re trying to help them live with dignity, but I think they’re being used a little indiscriminately,” said a leader of the researcher, who also serves as epidemiologist at the London Health Sciences Center in Ontario, Canada.

In addition to its recent association with kidney damage, Risperdal has been tied to other side effects as well. Hundreds of lawsuits now filed against Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., allege an association between the antipsychotic drug and gynecomastia, a condition categorized by male breast growth. These cases are currently pending in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, where a Risperdal litigation is underway. At least 600 claims  have now been filed in the jurisdiction, according to court records.

The Annals of Internal Medicine study looked at health care records from 2003 to 2012 in Canada, where researchers looked at acute kidney injuries sustained by more than 97,000 adults taking Risperdal, Zyprexa or Seroquel. The patients were 65 and older, and more than half had dementia.

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