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According to a panel of drug experts, the use of powerful antipsychotic drugs to treat disorders in children is a dangerous practice. Risperdal, known as an “atypical” antipsychotic, had been used by doctors to treat attention deficit disorder (ADD). Nearly 400,000 children and teenagers have been treated with Risperdal in the past year.

Risperdal has not been approved for attention deficit conditions. The drug also has several dangerous side effects. In many cases, the patient’s metabolism may be affected, causing significant weight gain. Other patients develop muscular twitches, tics, or spasms, which can become permanent. Other drugs in the same class as Risperdal are Abilify, Geodon, Seroquel, and Zyprexa.

The panel was originally convened by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as part of a routine review procedure for Risperdal and Zyprexa. The FDA requested that the panel review and approve the agency’s oversight of the manufacturers and sign off on the agency’s efforts at warning against the risks involved with the drugs. The panel rejected the FDA’s proposed course of action and felt that stronger warnings were needed. The experts felt that the potential side effects were too dangerous to justify the risk in prescribing the drugs for attention disorders.

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