Autism treatment drug is not without risks to children

Autism treatment drug is not without risks to children

Approved to treat autism in children in 2006, Risperdal, or risperidone, is both the first drug permitted for this purpose and the most widely distributed. Risperidone is intended to decrease aggression and irritability in autistic children. However, a recent study raises concerns about a number of severe side effects linked to its use.

The results of this new research have the medical community, parents and a product liability attorney in Nevada questioning whether the drug’s benefits outweigh the risks.

Effectiveness on autistic behaviors

According to the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative, several clinical trials involving risperidone use in children have been conducted. The studies found that the drug effectively minimized volatile behavior and the occurrence of tantrums and self-injury, allowing autistic children to focus on school, social work or therapy.

While risperidone use was shown to be effective in helping minimize aggression in autistic children, a product liability attorney in Nevada knows that it fell flat in other areas. A study in a 2010 issue of The Pharmacogenomics Journal reported that the drug’s degree of effectiveness and its risk of side effects relied largely on genetic markers. Although risperidone might have extremely noticeable effects on the behavior of one autistic child, it may have no effect whatsoever in treating the behavior of another. Researchers also concluded that many symptoms would often return once the drug’s use was discontinued, and that it failed to effectively treat many other common autistic behaviors.

Serious side effects

Beyond offering valuable information about risperidone’s effectiveness, the Emory University study revealed additional troubling information about the drug’s side effects. Among the more notable findings was the drug’s likelihood of causing rapid and substantial weight gain in children due to its ability to increase appetite. Additionally, risperidone use was linked to fatigue, drowsiness and in rare cases, involuntarily and repetitive movements in children taking it.

Do the benefits outweigh the risks?

Whether the benefits of risperidone use outweigh the risks is a difficult decision, and one that should be made on a case-by-case basis. Researchers at the Treatment and Research Institute for Autism Spectrum Disorders ultimately concluded that risperidone should only be administered with extreme caution. They further asserted that it should only be seriously considered when other treatment methods have proven ineffective.  Therefore, anyone who feels their child has suffered as a result of taking this drug may want to speak with a product liability attorney in Nevada.