Risperidone (Risperdal) REVIEW
What Is Risperidone (Risperdal)?
Risperidone, the generic form of the brand name drug Risperdal, is in a class of medications called atypical antipsychotics. It works by changing the activity of dopamine and other naturally occurring chemicals in the brain.
Janssen Pharmaceuticals makes risperidone, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved Risperdal in 2002 to treat schizophrenia in adults and youths at least 13 years old. Schizophrenia is a mental illness that can cause people to lose interest in life and develop abnormal thoughts and emotions.
In 2003, the FDA also approved Risperdal for the short-term treatment of adults and children 10 and older with bipolar disorder who experience mania, or episodes of unusually excited moods. Doctors can also prescribe the drug to treat mixed episodes that cause people to experience symptoms of both mania and depression. The FDA approved the first generic forms of Risperdal, risperidone tablets, in 2008.
Doctors can also prescribe risperidone for children 5 to 16 years old with autism, a condition that causes repetitive behavior and difficulty communicating and interacting with others. The drug can alleviate symptoms that include aggression, self-injury, and sudden mood changes.
Medical evidence does not indicate whether the drug is safe and effective in younger children.
Janssen, however, also marketed Risperdal as a treatment for older people with agitation from dementia, which is not an FDA-approved use of the medication. In fact, it can be dangerous for older adults with dementia to take antipsychotics, including Risperdal, and Janssen had to pay a fine for misbranding the drug. The combined criminal plea agreement with the Justice Department and a civil settlement totaled more than .67 billion.
In This Section:
What Are the Key Things I Need to Know About Risperidone (Risperdal)?
Before taking risperidone, you should be aware of several important warnings:
- Anyone with dementia should not take risperidone. Older adults with dementia who take risperidone or other medications for mental illness are at greater risk for death during treatment. They also face an increased risk for stroke or mini-stroke.
- Risperidone can cause hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels). This can happen even if you do not have diabetes before treatment begins. High blood sugar that is not treated can lead to a potentially life-threatening condition called ketoacidosis.
- If you have schizophrenia, you are at greater risk for developing diabetes. Taking risperidone can increase this risk even more.
- Risperidone could make it harder for your body to regulate temperature. If you become very hot, for instance, it could be harder for you to cool down. You may also have a hard time warming up if you are cold.
- Risperidone may cause you to feel dizzy or lightheaded so don't get up too quickly after lying down.
- If you have phenylketonuria, it's important to realize that orally disintegrating risperidone tablets contain phenylalanine.
Is There Anything Special I Should Discuss With My Doctor Before Taking Risperidone (Risperdal)?
Risperidone could cause certain side effects and can interfere with many medications. If you have certain medical conditions, take risperidone with caution. Always tell your doctor if you have allergies to any medications and discuss the risks and benefits of risperidone.
Tell your doctor if you use or have ever used illegal or "street" drugs, or if you are a heavy drinker. Also let your doctor know if you have ever abused prescription drugs.
Because it may be more difficult for your body to warm up or cool down while taking risperidone, let your doctor know if you plan to engage in vigorous exercise or if you will be in a place where temperatures are very hot or very cold.
Your doctor should also know if you ever developed severe side effects from a medication to treat mental illness.
Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, particularly if you are in your third trimester. Risperidone may be harmful for newborns right after delivery. This is particularly true if women take the drug during the final few months of pregnancy.
Your doctor should also know if you might become pregnant or if you are breastfeeding. Women who are nursing shouldn't take risperidone or should stop breastfeeding.
Also tell your doctor if you have ever had:
Older people with liver disease or low blood pressure should receive a lower initial dose of risperidone.
Risperidone Side Effects
What Are the Most Common and Serious Side Effects of Risperidone?
Common side effects of risperidone (Risperdal) include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dry mouth
- Increased saliva
- Increased appetite
- Weight gain
- Stomach pain
- More frequent dreaming
- Trouble sleeping
- Low sex drive or sexual problems
- Unusual breast milk production
- Vision problems
- Muscle or joint pain
- Dry or discolored skin
- Trouble urinating
Serious side effects can also occur while taking risperidone. If you have any of these side effects, call your doctor immediately:
- Muscle stiffness
- Fast or irregular pulse
- Abnormal movements of your face or body that you cannot control
- Slow movements or shuffling walk
- Trouble breathing or swallowing
- Painful erection that lasts for hours
Do Other Drugs Affect the Way Risperidone Works?
Many drugs may affect the way risperidone works, and the drug could also interfere with other medications. It's very important to let your doctor know about everything you take, including illegal drugs and any over-the-counter medications, herbs, or supplements.
Types of drugs that interact with risperidone (Risperdal) include:
Should I Avoid Any Food, Drink, or Activity While Taking Risperidone?
Risperidone can make you feel sleepy. Don't drive or operate machinery until you know how the drug will affect you. Drinking alcohol can make you feel even more tired, so it's important to avoid alcohol while taking this medication.
What Is a Typical Dose of Risperidone?
Risperidone comes as a tablet, liquid, and disintegrating tablet that dissolves in your mouth.
Tablets come in various strengths, including 0.25 milligrams (mg), 0.5 mg, 1 mg, 2 mg, 3 mg, and 4 mg.
At first, your doctor will probably prescribe a low dose of risperidone, but the doctor may gradually increase or decrease it as your body adjusts to the medication. You'll most likely take risperidone once or twice a day, at about the same time each day. You can take it with or without food. However, do not take the liquid form of risperidone with tea or soda. Use water, orange juice, coffee, or low-fat milk instead.
Remove dissolving tablets from the package by peeling back the outer foil. Put the tablet on your tongue and swallow it whole. You can take it with liquid, but don't chew or crush the medication.
What Happens If I Take Too Much Risperidone and Overdose?
Take risperidone exactly as your doctor prescribed. Symptoms of an overdose may include:
- Fast, pounding, or irregular heartbeat
- Upset stomach
- Blurry vision
If you or someone else has symptoms of an overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If someone collapses or isn't breathing, call 911.
What Happens If I Miss a Dose of Risperidone or Don't Take It as Prescribed?
Risperidone may help control your symptoms, but it's not a cure for your condition. Also, it may take several weeks or even longer for you to experience the full benefits of the drug.
Don't stop taking risperidone without talking to your doctor first, even if you feel well. If you suddenly stop taking risperidone, your symptoms may return. And abruptly stopping your medication could also make your illness more difficult to treat.
If you accidentally miss a dose of risperidone, take it as soon as you remember. If it's almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and wait to take the next scheduled dose. Don't take two doses of risperidone at the same time to make up for a missed dose.
By Mary Elizabeth Dallas | Medically Reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH
Latest Update: 2014-07-31
Copyright © 2014 Everyday Health Media, LLC
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