Risperdal, Other Antipsychotics Linked to Pneumonia in Alzheimer’s Patients
A new study indicates that Risperdal and other antipsychotic medications may increase the risk of pneumonia when they are used to treat patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. The publication of the study comes as thousands of plaintiffs pursue Risperdal lawsuits over gynecomastia and other side effects allegedly associated with its use.
For this study, researchers writing in the journal Chest pulled data from the Medication and Alzheimer’s disease (MEDALZ) cohort, which included 60,584 community-dwelling adults diagnosed with Alzheimer’s from 2005 to 2011. Some 12,225 pneumonia incidents were included in this group. They were compared to a group of 60,584 patients without Alzheimer’s, which included 6,195 incident pneumonia cases.
The use of antipsychotics appeared to increase the likelihood of pneumonia in both groups. Among the Alzheimer’s patients, the drugs were assocoated with a 2-fold increase in relative risk. The association was greatest in the youngest (ages 34 to 74) group of patients, and highest at the start of antipsychotic treatment. However, it remained elevated with long-term use.
There was no marked difference in risk among patients taking risperidone (Risperdal), quetiapine (Seroquel), or haloperidol (Hadol).
The authors of the study did acknowledge that the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has already issued a warning regarding the dangers associated with the use of antipsychotics in elderly dementia patients, and listed pneumonia as one of the leading causes of death. But few studies have compared individual medications, or looked specifically at patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
“With observational data we cannot fully rule out a shared causality between pneumonia and antipsychotic use, but the risk-benefit balance should be considered when antipsychotics are prescribed,” the research team concluded.
More than 2,100 Risperdal lawsuits have been filed in Pennsylvania’s Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas on behalf of individuals who suffered complications allegedly associated with use of the antipsychotic medication. The majority of claims involve gynecomastia, a condition that causes men and boys to develop female-like breasts.
Since 2015, the Pennsylvania litigation has been trying gynecomastia lawsuits involving Risperdal. At the conclusion of three of those trials, juries awarded plaintiffs damages amounting to $2.5 million, $1.75 million and $500,000. The jury in a fourth case declined to award any damages to the plaintiff, after determining that Risperdal did not cause his breast growth. However, they did find that the drug’s manufacturers failed to adequately warn patients and doctors bout its risks.
Learn More about Filing a Risperdal Lawsuit
Bernstein Liebhard LLP is offering free legal reviews to men and boys who allegedly developed gynecomastia due to their use of Risperdal. To learn more about filing a Risperdal lawsuit, please call (877) 779-1414.