Invega (paliperidone) is a medication that is used to reduce the symptoms of certain mental disorders, such as schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder.
It’s also known as a second-generation antipsychotic (SGA) or atypical antipsychotic. Invega is considered as a treatment option for patients presenting with agitation and/or aggression.
Schizophrenia requires long-term treatment, even when symptoms have subsided. Unfortunately, there are some serious side effects that come with the long-term use of Invega. One of these is gynecomastia, a condition where there’s an enlargement of the breast tissue in men or boys.
Some patients are treated with the antipsychotic since they were young males. Sadly, a side effect like abnormal development of breast tissue can take an emotional toll on boys because they had to suffer from the embarrassment of being ridiculed for their appearance.
As a result, several Invega lawsuits have been filed by these victims and their families across the United States.
Aside from gynecomastia, however, Invega can also cause other rare yet serious side effects, especially with its prolonged use. Continue reading the article to learn more about these potential complications.
How does Invega work?
Invega works in the brain by restoring the balance of neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin. The uncontrolled activity of these neurotransmitters in the brain is believed to be responsible for causing mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia and anxiety.
Serotonin impacts your entire body. It is thought to stabilize your mood, happiness, and feelings of well-being. This hormone also helps with eating and digestion. On the other hand, your nervous system makes use of dopamine to send messages between nerve cells.
That’s why it’s also called a chemical messenger. Dopamine levels impact muscle movement, mood regulation, sleep patterns, attention, and motivation, among several other functions.
A healthy balance of these neurotransmitters can improve thinking, mood, and behavior. Other symptoms of schizophrenia that Invega may help with include:
- Hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that seem real)
- Delusions (illogical or bizarre ideas)
- Disorganized thoughts or difficulty organizing your thoughts
- Trouble speaking clearly
- Disorganized and erratic behavior
Is Invega the same as Risperdal?
Invega (paliperidone) and Risperdal (risperidone) are both sold by pharma giant Johnson & Johnson. Although they’re not exactly the same thing, they do have some similar effects. This is because paliperidone is a metabolite of risperidone.
A metabolite is a substance made when the body breaks down chemicals or drugs. In other words, risperidone is transformed into paliperidone once the medication is administered. This explains some of their identical physiological effects and apparently, the same side effects.
Thousands of Risperdal lawsuits have also been filed by men who claimed they developed gynecomastia or enlarged breasts as a result of taking the antipsychotic drug.
Invega was first approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2006, just before Risperdal’s patent expired.
Common Side Effects
Some of the most common side effects associated with Invega use are the following:
- Dry mouth
- Muscle weakness
- Increased saliva production
- Weight gain
Doctors often recommend that you avoid alcohol while taking the antipsychotic medication. It’s also recommended that you wait before working with heavy machinery until you know how your body responds to Invega.
Report to your doctor if your side effects are persistent or severe. It will also help to ask questions about potential risks of the medicine before starting treatment so that you can be prepared for side effects.
Long-term antipsychotic treatment is associated with higher odds of developing other health problems, including:
- Weight gain
- High blood sugar
- High cholesterol
- Tardive dyskinesia
- Increase in the hormone prolactin
Paliperidone can increase blood levels of a hormone called prolactin. This is a side effect that’s also seen with risperidone. In particular, risperidone is associated with higher levels of increase in prolactin compared to other antipsychotic drugs.
In females, increased prolactin levels can cause absent, missed, or irregular menstrual periods. On the other hand, in males, an increase in prolactin production can cause gynecomastia, loss of sex drive, and even erectile dysfunction.
Some plaintiffs who have filed an Invega lawsuit and suffered from gynecomastia even lactated at some point. Long-term elevated prolactin can also cause osteoporosis or an increased risk of bone fractures.
Some individuals may develop muscle-related side effects while on paliperidone. These are better known as extrapyramidal symptoms (EPS) and tardive dyskinesia (TD). Extrapyramidal symptoms can cause movement and muscle control problems throughout your body.
Some signs that are indicative of EPS include restlessness, tremor, and stiffness. Meanwhile, tardive dyskinesia is another serious side effect that may occur with certain medications used to treat mental illness.
TD may appear as slow or jerky movements that one can’t control. It often occurs in the face, neck, and tongue.
Can you take paliperidone while pregnant?
There are no human pregnancy studies on taking Invega. The drug may pass into breast milk and potentially harm a baby. If you’re pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are nursing, talk to your doctor to best manage your medications.
Antipsychotic use during the third trimester of pregnancy can increase a newborn’s risk for EPS and withdrawal symptoms.
Symptoms that have been reported in newborn babies include:
- Feeding disorder
- Respiratory distress
Cases may vary in severity, but there are reports of newborns who have required intensive support and prolonged hospitalization due to these self-limiting side effects.
Invega Has A Black Box Warning
A black box warning, also known as a boxed warning, is the highest safety-related warning that medications can have assigned by the FDA. It appears on a prescription drug label. It alerts consumers and health care providers about serious or life-threatening side effects that a certain drug may have.
In the case of Invega, it carries the same boxed warning as other atypical antipsychotics regarding the increased risk of death in elderly patients with dementia-related psychosis. Both forms of the antipsychotic medicine such as oral paliperidone and paliperidone injection are not approved for use in this patient population.
Invega is also not recommended for patients with a known sensitivity to risperidone or its injectable, long-acting form, Risperdal Consta.
Other Side Effects Of Antipsychotics
Second-generation antipsychotics or atypical antipsychotics like Invega have been associated with a higher risk of death, transient ischemic attacks (TIA), and strokes in elderly patients with behavior problems due to dementia.
In general, all antipsychotics are also linked to the possibility of suffering from sudden cardiac death due to an arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat. To minimize a patient’s chances of suffering from these risks, antipsychotics should be administered in the smallest yet most effective dose when the benefits outweigh the risks.
Your doctor may order an electrocardiogram (ECG) to check for an irregular heartbeat.
Neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS) is a rare yet life-threatening adverse event related to the use of antipsychotic drugs. Symptoms may include:
- Altered mental status
- Extreme muscle stiffness
If you start experiencing these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.
Antipsychotics can also cause dizziness, sedation, or orthostatic hypotension. Orthostatic hypotension is a form of low blood pressure that occurs when you stand up from sitting or lying down. This can make you feel dizzy or lightheaded and can even cause you to faint.
All in all, these side effects can result in falls which could cause bone fractures and other injuries.
Invega (paliperidone) may help reduce symptoms of certain mental illnesses, including schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, and bipolar mania. Schizophrenia often requires lifelong treatment. Unfortunately, long-term antipsychotic treatment with Invega can cause a plethora of side effects and some of them can be serious.
The long-term effects of Invega include weight gain, high cholesterol, high blood sugar, increased prolactin levels that may lead to gynecomastia, and muscle-related side effects like extrapyramidal symptoms (EPS) and tardive dyskinesia (TD).
Invega carries the same boxed warning as other atypical antipsychotics. According to the warning, elderly patients who have dementia-related psychosis treated with antipsychotic medications are at an increased risk of death. Therefore, paliperidone is not approved for use in this patient population.
What You Can Do
Both Invega and Risperdal are manufactured by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. Paliperidone is an active metabolite of risperidone. Therefore, risperidone is transformed into paliperidone after it’s been administered.
This explains their almost identical pharmacological profile and apparently, very similar side effects. Both medications have been the target of thousands of lawsuits filed in the country.
According to plaintiffs, they suffered from gynecomastia or enlarged breasts as young males who were treated with the antipsychotic drugs. As a result, at an early age, they had to endure being made fun of by others for their appearance.
If you or a loved one suffered the same fate after taking Invega, you may have a case against its manufacturer. And since we know how hard it is to pursue legal action while enduring side effects caused by paliperidone, we’re here to assist you every step of the way.
Contact us today so we can assist in finding the right Invega attorney for you.