Posts Tagged antipsychotic drugs
Kids sent to correctional facilities may be at a high risk of excessive use of psychiatric drugs, according to a recent news report.
A review by investigative news organization PublicSource revealed that juvenile offenders are given psychiatric medication — antipsychotic drugs, to be more specific — at alarmingly high doses. The review said that the amount of antipsychotic drugs ordered by youth correctional facilities was enough to treat about a third of the kids confined in their respective centers over a span of seven years. In contrast, antipsychotic prescription in kids across the U.S. only amount to 1-2 percent of the child population.
The most probable reason behind this high psychiatric drug use in correctional institutions is the instant calming effect of the drugs on potentially troublesome kids. “Most of antipsychotic use is likely for sedation and behavioral control,” according to Dr. Mark Olfson, who led the PublicSource review. Olfson works at the Columbia University Medical Center.
Some juvenile law experts believe that this highlights the need for a radical change in the way correctional institutions think about treating kids. “The great concern among children’s advocates is that … too often the medications are used to the benefit of the institution to control behavior in ways that are not appropriate,” said Juvenile Law Center co-founder Robert Schwartz. Olfson agrees, saying that “the new findings will hopefully spur much-needed institutional reforms.”
A recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry discovered that adolescents are receiving an increasing amount of antipsychotic medication in recent years.
A team of researchers led by Dr. Mark Olfson of New York’s Columbia University reviewed prescription data from U.S. retail pharmacies to check the trend in antipsychotic prescriptions over the years. While children 12 years old and below were issued fewer drugs for psychosis from 2006 to 2010, antipsychotic prescriptions for teenagers from 13 to 18 years of age rose by 1.19 percent. Meanwhile, people aged 19 to 24 were prescribed 0.84 percent more than in previous years. “In older teenagers and young adults, a developmental period of high risk for the onset of psychotic disorders, antipsychotic use increased between 2006 and 2010,” the researchers said in a news release.
The study proponents conclude that the differences in data for each age group may have something to do with the need to address their respective concerns. “Age and sex antipsychotic use patterns suggest that much of the antipsychotic treatment of children and younger adolescents targets age-limited behavioral problems,” the team added.
Furthermore, the research team believes that prescribing antipsychotic drugs should involve more responsibility. “Clinical policy makers have opportunities to promote improved quality and safety of antipsychotic medication use in young people through expanded use of quality measures, physician education, telephone- and Internet-based child and adolescent psychiatry consultation models and improved access to alternative, evidence-based psychosocial treatments.”
A new study reveals that antipsychotic drugs, which are widely prescribed by doctors, are not only expensive and potentially dangerous but may also just be a waste of time as they may not be really effective in treating many of the cases they are prescribed for.
Considering the known side effects of powerful antipsychotic medications, such as weight gain, diabetes and heart disease, researchers recommend that they should only be prescribed when doctors are certain their patients will benefit from them. Since atypical antipsychotics were introduced in 1989 primarily designed to treat schizophrenia, they have now been prescribed for more and more conditions, like autism, bipolar disorder, delirium, dementia, depression and personality disorders.
The use of any antipsychotic drugs was relatively stable from 1995 to 2001, but ballooned from 2001 to 2006. This somehow indicates that doctors were more likely to prescribe these powerful medications.
There is a growing concern that drug companies are unlawfully promoting these drugs by encouraging doctors to prescribe them. Consumer watchdog Public Citizen released a report in December 2010 showing that some of the largest drug company settlements with the federal government were for the unlawful promotion of atypical antipsychotic drugs. Just last year, AstraZeneca paid $520 million to settle allegations of unlawful promotion of top-selling atypical antipsychotic Seroquel.