National disaster: Millions of children prescribed antipsychotic drugs they don’t need

Children in the US overprescribed antipsychotic drugs

Are doctors going crazy? US psychiatrists prescribe antipsychotic drugs to children in one third of all visits, which is a rate almost three times higher than during the 1990’s.

Roughly 90 percent of antipsychotic prescriptions written between 2005 and 2009 were prescribed for something other than what the US Food and Drug Administration approves them for.

Researchers say the increase in antipsychotic drug prescription is largely to treat disruptive behaviors, including attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) – even though those disorders are not treatable by antipsychotics.

Medications such as Abilify and Risperdal, which are used primarily to treat patients with schizophrenia, are increasingly being prescribed “off label” to control youngsters with ADHD who have problems controlling their behavior.

Only a small proportion of antipsychotic treatment of children (6 percent) and adolescents (13 percent) is for FDA-approved clinical indications,” said Dr. Mark Olfson, a professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University, in an interview with Reuters.

Children with ADHD are most often taking drugs approved for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and irritability with autism.

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