More and more children in Medicaid are being prescribed medications similar to Risperdal in combination with other psychotropic drugs, according to a recent report in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

The study looked at use of second-generation antipsychotics (SGAs) over a four-year period, and found that use of the psychiatric treatments continued for long periods, and were more frequently administered to less-impaired children between the ages of 6 and 18. Beginning in 2004, researchers looked at Medicaid program data to estimate how long children were taking SGAs with stimulants, antidepressants, mood stabilizers and alpha agonists. Among other things, data revealed that patients taking SGAs increased by 22 percent over four years, and that 85 percent of people used them at the same time as other psychotropic drugs. According to the Journal, the likelihood of a child being prescribed both drug types simultaneously was .22 for stimulants and 0.52 for mood-stabilizers. Additionally, concurrent SGA use occurred for long durations, researchers found.

Drugs Similar to Risperdal Often Given to Income-Eligible Medicaid Children

An important finding of the study was that this powerful combination of psychiatric treatments was frequently given to children who had no intellectual disability, were not hospitalized or did not have severe attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The highest concurrent SGA users were children in disability Medicaid programs, as well as those in foster care and who had behavioral hospitalizations.

“We knew that antipsychotic use was increasing among youth, but were surprised to learn just how often children with ADHD or depression receive an antipsychotic as part of their treatment, and when they do, it is for sustained periods of time,” said the co-director of the Policy Lab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

One may wonder how the increase in scripts written for Risperdal, a widely-used SGA, will affect the increasing litigation involving Johnson & Johnson. More than 600 Risperdal lawsuits over the medication have now been filed against the drug’s manufacturer, as well as its distributor, Janssen Pharmaceuticals in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. The majority of plaintiffs in these cases similarly allege gynecomastia, a condition referring to male breast growth, as a side effect of the drug. Claimants say this side effect is often only repairable via corrective surgery.

Consider a Risperdal Lawsuit

Contact an attorney to learn more about Risperdal lawsuits, or to find out if you are eligible to file a claim at (877) 779-1414.

Published August 5, 2014 by