A new study published by researchers in Archives of General Psychiatry reported, skyrocketing prescription use of antipsychotics in children and teens for treatment of ADHD and similar behavioural disorders. According to this study, nearly 34% of antipsychotics prescriptions are meant for teens and children. No scientific evidences available in support of safety and efficacy in young adults but the adverse events are clear in children that results in iatrogenic weight gain and incidences of diabetes mellitus.
According to a research study published in Archives, the prescribing of antipsychotics in pediatric individuals increased by eight folds and nearly seven folds in late teen agers but it doubled in adults. Most of the prescriptions are dispensed for off-label purposes, especially in children.
Evidences cited by the study pointed that marked increase in prescription of antipsychotics in recent years which are fuelled by pharmaceutical companies by advertisements. Against the federal law, many major pharmaceutical companies are believed to be involved in this scam and pumping billions of dollars for advertising and marketing. Surprisingly, in many of these transactions, these companies sealed deal settlements with US government.
Some of the companies including Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca, Eli Lilly and Bristol Meyer Squibb are reportedly involved in these settlements.
Eli Lilly was charged for illegal marketing of Zyprexa, an antipsychotic drug and the company was ordered to pay $1.4 million as fine and $615 million to settle the case in Federal court. Shockingly, in this case, Zyprexa is prescribed by psychiatrists for pediatric patients but it is not approved for juvenile treatment.
Risperdal is the main antipsychotic drug that is illegally promoted by Johnson & Johnson and the company reportedly paid nearly $2.2 billions to government to solve the federal lawsuits and still the case is on.
In another case, the company paid $518 millions as penalty and settlement after a lawsuit filed against the company for allegedly swindled Texas Medicaid program, illegal marketing of Risperdal and providing misleading information about efficacy of Risperdal in juvenile behavioural disorders. This case was testified by Dr. Bruce Perry, SRF, ChildTrauma Academy against Johnson & Johnson.
According to Dr. Perry, no scientific evidences support off-label use of antipsychotics in children. Influence of manufacturers and irrational drug prescription by psychiatrists may lead to illegal prescriptions and nexus between these two stakeholders can overtly influence this problem.
Similarly for unapproved use in youths, Astrazeneca paid out $520 million for Seroquel, Bristol Meyer and Pfizer paid out $515 million and $301 million for Abilify and Geodon respectively.
The study analyzed the medical records of prescription of antipsychotics, obtained from National Ambulatory Medical Care Surveys from 1993-1998 and 2005-2009. The statistical reports are alarming and the rate of prescription of antipsychotics in children is skyrocketing and hands of psychiatrists and manufacturers in illegal prescriptions are clearly evidenced. This practice greatly attracted the teens and young adults for so-called ‘treatment’ and the rate of psychiatrist visit are between 29 – 31% in 2005 – 2009.
As reported by researchers, it is mandatory to re-investigate the safety and efficacy of antipsychotics in children and young adults in accordance with good clinical practice and further trials can flesh out the ground reality of antipsychotics’ use in children.
This study was supported by grant from Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality but conflict of interest in funding exists due to reports surfaced that the study was funded some pharmaceutical majors, some authors says.
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