Thousands of women blame a puberty-delaying drug for causing devastating side effects.

Nurse Preparing Injection

The US Food & Drug Administration has received more than 10,000 adverse event reports related to Lupron, describing side effects "from brittle bones to faulty joints," Kaiser Health News reports.

Pediatric Lupron Patients, Now Adults, Report Severe Side Effects

Approved for use in both children and adults, the synthetic hormone has become a mainstay in the treatment of young children experiencing premature puberty. Off-label use is also common. Thousands of parents have chosen to inject their young children with the drug to promote height growth.

As Kaiser notes, the drug's adult version is plastered with a litany of potential side effects, but pediatric versions feature few warnings. In recent years, thousands of women treated with Lupron as children have stepped forward to report side effects thought only to appear in older patients:
  • chronic pain
  • osteopenia - thinning of bones
  • osteoporosis
  • degenerative disc disease
  • seizures
  • depression and anxiety
Pressed by Kaiser Health News for a statement, the US Food & Drug Administration said: "we are currently conducting a specific review of nervous system and psychiatric events in association with the use of GnRH agonists, including Lupron, in pediatric patients." Kaiser reports that federal regulators are also looking into a spate of deadly seizures that may be linked to the drug's pediatric use.

In 2013, the federal agency warned patients and healthcare professionals that postmarketing reports had linked Lupron to convulsions, but the FDA has not yet issued any additional warnings in relation to Lupron's use in children.

What Is Lupron?

Lupron is a synthetic hormone that works by decreasing gonadotropin, a type of hormone crucial to normal human growth, sexual development and the production of other sex hormones. The drug belongs to a class of medications known as gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonists.

Administered by injection, Lupron is used to treat a number of adult conditions, from prostate and breast cancers to endometriosis and uterine fibroids. The drug is currently manufactured by AbbVie, a research-based pharmaceutical manufacturer headquartered in Illinois.

Why Is It Prescribed To Children?

In children, Lupron has been approved for the treatment of central precocious puberty, a condition in which a child's body begins to undergo changes characteristic of puberty earlier than normal.

In female children, precocious puberty is defined as the beginning of puberty before the age of eight, according to the Mayo Clinic. The condition is diagnosed in male children if the changes associated with puberty begin before the age of nine:
  • rapid growth of bones and muscles
  • changes in body shape and size
  • development of body's ability to reproduce
Lupron is also used to delay puberty in transgender youth who are too young to begin taking hormone replacement therapy medications.

However, off-label, or unapproved, uses for Lupron have flourished in recent decades. Beyond diagnosed cases of precocious puberty, Lupron has been used to promote accelerated growth in short children. While this practice has been deemed harmful, it remains fairly wide-spread, as Kaiser Health News found in its new investigation. Now, a growing community of women who were prescribed Lupron as young children have begun to band together, blaming the puberty-delaying drug for a host of devastating side effects once observed only in adult patients.

The Legal Herald

About Laurence Banville

Attorney Contributor:

Laurence P. Banville, Esq. is the managing partner of Banville Law. He is a regular contributor on several topics including negligent security cases, child sexual abuse and Dram Shop and liquor liability cases.

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