By Lisa Ackerman
On November 4, 2013 Johnson and Johnson was fined $2.2 billion in one of the largest health care related settlements (1.) Here is what the press had to say:
The penalties announced Monday involve fines and forfeiture to the federal government and several states. The settlement involves the schizophrenia drugs Risperdal and Invega, and the heart failure drug Natrecor, the company and Attorney General Eric Holder said.
Johnson & Johnson and two subsidiaries “lined their pockets at the expense of American taxpayers, patients and the private insurance industry,” Holder said.
Risperdal is one of the two drugs offered to individuals with autism as approved by the FDA. While this lawsuit is geared more towards elderly care allegations of fraud, it INVOLVES a drug that is commonly administered to individuals with autism.
In the past, this drug has had problems in the autism community. Those issues involve side effects that lead to a lawsuit citing males being diagnosed with gynecomastia (2.) Gynecomastia is defined as the enlargement of breast tissue in males. Sometimes an additional side effect includes lactating breasts (3.) Yes, that means males with breasts that lactate.
It is timely that our recent TACAnow blog “Drugs aren’t always the answer” (4) was shared just one week ago. It’s no wonder that parents are concerned and leery of drugs especially with young children.
As we shared this story with TACA families, I received a note from one of them:
My son was offered Risperdal by a psychiatrist at age 2. At the time, he had no aggressive behaviors, just wasn’t developing speech and was stimming all the time. The doctor told me it was “for autism.” I knew nothing of biomed back then, but fortunately alarm bells went off and I said no to his offer.
I wish this was the first time we received a parent report like the one above. We have heard similar stories many times.
I wish treatment was as simple as a pill. If so, TACA would be ready to share that type of information. We respect and realize that medication can be a tremendous solution for some families, but not for others. It’s up to parents to research what their children need, become aware of side effects and determine what is best for their family.
Here is what parents can do today:
– Get connected with TACA
– Obtain a free TACA mentor
– Attend free TACA meetings and conferences
– Continue to ask questions and seek medical treatments appropriate to your child’s needs
TACA is here to help. Please visit our website for information on our programs and services for families living with autism www.tacanow.org.