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Diabetes and Risperdal

The popular antipsycotic drug Risperdal may be linked to Diabetes and other serious side effects. Speak to a Risperdal lawyer today to learn if you are entitled to compensation.

Since it was first introduced in 1993, Johnson & Johnson’s Risperdal drug has been touted as a superior antipsychotic medication, compared to conventional antipsychotics, and is prescribed to more than 12 million people in the United States every year. Despite its reputation as one of the most widely used antipsychotic drugs on the market however, Risperdal has been linked to a number of major side effects in patients using the medication, including diabetes, a group of diseases that affect how your body uses blood glucose, or blood sugar. Glucose is a key component of a person’s health, because it is an important source of energy for the cells that make up the body’s tissues and muscles, and is also the brain’s main source of fuel. When a person’s blood sugar is too high, they may be diagnosed with diabetes, a chronic disease requiring careful management that is associated with serious, possibly even life-threatening, complications.

Signs and Symptoms of Diabetes

There are two main types of diabetes: Type 1 diabetes, in which the body does not produce insulin, and Type 2, in which the body either doesn’t produce enough insulin, or the cells ignore the insulin produced. When you eat food, your body breaks down sugars and starches into glucose, which is the basic fuel for the cells in your body. Insulin takes sugar from the blood into the cells, and is necessary for the body to be able to use glucose for energy. When glucose builds up in a person’s blood instead of going into the cells, diabetes complications can occur. Common symptoms of Type 1 diabetes include extreme hunger, frequent urination, unusual thirst, extreme fatigue and unusual weight loss. For Type 2 diabetes, common symptoms include blurred vision, frequent infections, tingling or numbness in the hands or feet, cuts or bruises that are slow to heal, and any of the symptoms associated with Type 1 diabetes.

Diabetes Treatment

Diabetes is a serious disease that cannot be treated without medical attention. The main goal of diabetes treatment is to minimize any elevation of blood sugar (glucose) while avoiding abnormally low blood sugar levels. In most cases, Type 1 diabetes can be treated with insulin, adequate exercise and a diabetic diet. For Type 2 diabetes, treatment may include weight loss, exercise and a diabetic diet. Adherence to a diabetic diet can help control elevated blood sugar in individuals with diabetes by promoting a balanced, nutritious diet that is low in cholesterol, fat and simple sugars. Similarly, weight reduction and exercise increase the body’s sensitivity to insulin, thereby helping to control blood sugar elevations.

Complications of Diabetes

There are some long-term complications that may be associated with diabetes, and the longer a person has the disease, and the less controlled their blood sugar is, the higher their risk of experiencing diabetes complications. Many complications associated with diabetes may be disabling or even life-threatening, including heart disease, nerve damage, eye damage, kidney damage, osteoporosis, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease. Other long-term complications of diabetes may include digestive problems, skin problems, sexual dysfunction and problems with the teeth and gums.

FDA Warning Over Risperdal Diabetes Risks

In 2004, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, Janssen, updated the Risperdal warning label to include the increased risk of hyperglycemia and diabetes in patients taking Risperdal. According to the updated warning, any patient treated with an atypical antipsychotic should be monitored for symptoms of hyperglycemia, and patients diagnosed with diabetes mellitus who are taking Risperdal or another atypical antipsychotic should be monitored regularly for worsening of glucose control. Although some cases of hyperglycemia resolved when use of the antipsychotic was terminated, the warning notes that some patients who showed signs of hyperglycemia during treatment with an atypical antipsychotic required continuation of anti-diabetic treatment even after the medication was discontinued.

Research Linking Risperdal to Diabetes Side Effects

Although this FDA warning concerning the risk of diabetes with Risperdal use wasn’t issued until 2004, there is evidence suggesting that Johnson & Johnson knew about this side effect risk as early as 1999. According to a recent whistle-blower lawsuit filed against J&J, the drug firm was aware in 1999 of researchers’ findings indicating that about half the patients taking Risperdal in a study comparing the drug’s risks to those of Eli Lilly & Co.’s Zyprexa antipsychotic developed diabetes after taking the drug for a year. While the researchers involved in the study concluded that Risperdal caused “medically serious weight gain” that led to the development of diabetes, representatives of Janssen were telling doctors at the time that researchers had found that Risperdal didn’t cause diabetes. Allegations raised in the suit blame J&J officials for failing to turn this research over to the FDA, even when federal regulators began investigating links between antipsychotic medications and diabetes in 2000. The drug maker has also been accused of failing to turn over the results of two later studies, both of which found a diabetes risk with Risperdal use.

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