A mother protesting outside a psychiatric hospital has finally decided to do a hunger strike in order to bring attention to the plight of her 35-year-old son trapped inside. Cindi Fisher is a concerned, dedicated mother who has been prevented from seeing her son, who is currently being "treated" at the Western State Hospital in Washington State.
Cindi Fisher has fought for years for her son, Siddharta, who has experienced forced psychiatric drugging and other human-rights violations in the State of Washington. With tenacity and perseverance, Cindi Fisher has non-violently protested the use of psychiatric drugs and their serious effects on her son's physical and mental health, as well as on his behavior. In response to her frustration to have officials acknowledge the harm this treatment was doing to her son, Cindi Fisher started a non-profit organization called Movement Of Mothers Standing-up-together or MOMS. MOMS advocates for trauma-informed, psycho-social care with no or low-dose psychiatric medications, in a non-coercive setting. Cindi Fisher has held protest fasts on her son's behalf. These MOMS have fasted over 100 days in one year and walked 100 miles to have their voices and concerns amplified.
The US Court system has failed to protect vulnerable US citizens, like Siddhartha Fisher, from being force-drugged with medications used "off-label" that are not safe or effective. Off-label means that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved the drug for that use - in other words the drug has not been proven effective to be used for that mental disorder. Risperdal was never approved by the FDA for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Unfortunately, Siddharta Fisher is not alone in being mistreated by the mental-health system. Right now in the U.S.A., secrecy, lack of transparency, and lack of accountability makes a perfect environment for human-rights violations of the mentally disabled. Wards in mental healthcare have often been stripped of their legal rights and thus cannot assert their objections to treatment decisions. Violations of human-subject provisions are routine, with many patients in locked state and federal institutions given psychiatric drugs for off-label uses. Unbiased independent review of medical charts is almost non-existent. Patient human rights have been ignored and there is no direct process to bring guardianship abuse or doctor/proxy/decision-maker abuse to the attention of the court.
Janssen did not provide doctors or the public with adequate warnings about the drug's dangerous side effects. Risperdal has been linked to serious conditions and side-effects including: 1) Involuntary muscle movements (extrapyramidal symptoms/tardive dyskinesia) 2) Neuroleptic-Malignant Syndrome (NMS) 3) Diabetes, 4) heart problems 5) irritability and aggression, 6) other behavior disorders, such as bizarre and unusual behaviors, 7) akathisia.
The US regulatory agency the FDA sent warning letters to Janssen that questioned the company's marketing claims that its drug was superior to first-generation antipsychotics or safer. Risperdal is a second-generation antipsychotic (SGA). Risperdal costs 40-50 times as much as the first-generation antipsychotics.
Many of the current lawsuits pending against Janssen are because of the drug's effect on the hormone prolactin. Risperdal may increase the amount of a hormone (prolactin) in blood. Symptoms may include growth of breast(s) even in young adolescent boys. Between 2000 and 2004, some doctors prescribed it to boys off-label, some of whom grew breast tissue. Many of these patients are now suing the pharmaceutical company.
The right to informed consent is delineated in the federal regulation known as the Common Rule - Protection of Human Subjects, 45 CFR 46. Originally a result of the horrors done in the name of science by Nazi doctors during World World II, these guidelines define what is proper and responsible conduct for the use of humans in medical research. The Nuremberg Trials brought to the world's attention the brutal violations of human rights done by the Nazis in the name of science. The Belmont Report was written concerning the Ethical Principles and Guidelines for protection of human subjects of research. Thus the Nuremberg Code of 1947 and the Helsinki Declaration of 1964 were finally made into guidelines issued by the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. These guidelines are authorized by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for the protection of human subjects of research. The American Psychological Association also published in 1973 codes for the conduct of social and behavioral research. The use of "off-label" drugs without the informed consent of patients is a violation of these basic human-rights protections.
Psychiatric drugs like Risperdal, used off-lablel, may not live up to their marketing promises but instead can cause serious, even fatal side-effects, particularly in children and the elderly. Lives of some our most vulnerable citizens have been irreparably damaged and many have been lost to fatal adverse effects and even to suicide.
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- dry mouth
- increased saliva
- increased appetite
- weight gain
- stomach pain
- dreaming more than usual
- difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- decreased sexual interest or ability
- breastmilk production
- vision problems
- muscle or joint pain
- dry or discolored skin
- difficulty urinating
Some of Risperdal's side effects can be serious: