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Antipsychotic usage raises questions.

NEW YORK -- Use of antipsychotic medications such as Abilify and Risperdal to control youngsters with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and other behavior problems has skyrocketed in recent years, a new study finds.

"Only a small proportion of anti-psychotic treatment of children (6%) and adolescents (13%) is for FDA-approved clinical indications," said lead researcher Dr. Mark Olfson, a professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City.

"These national trends focus attention on the substantial and growing extent to which children diagnosed with ADHD and other disruptive behavioral disorders are being treated with antipsychotic medications."

Researchers found that doctor visits between 1993-1998 and 2005-2009 involving a prescription of antipsychotic medication for children jumped from 0.24 to 1.83 per 100 people; for teens, 14 to 20 years old, the rate rose from 0.78 to 3.76 per 100 people; and for adults it advanced from 3.25 to 6.18 per 100 people.

Many of the prescriptions for children were ordered by doctors who are not psychiatrists, the researchers found.

Olfson said most children and adolescents treated with antipsychotics are not receiving psychotherapy. "This suggests more needs to be done to increase access and availability of psychosocial interventions," he said.

The study, published in the August 6 online edition of the Archives of General Psychiatry, used data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care survey from 1993 to 2009, and over 484,000 people were included in total.

The researchers found prescriptions for antipsychotics increased for children and adults. But doctors prescribed more antipsychotics to children and adolescents (68% and 72%, respectively) than to adults (50%).

For children 13 and younger, the most prescribed drug was risperidone (Risperdal). Other drugs included aripiprazole (Abilify), quetiapine (Seroquel) and olanzapine (Zyprexa). Of these drugs, Abilify was most commonly prescribed to adolescents, ages 14 to 20, the study found.

Dr. Peter Breggin, a psychiatrist from Ithaca, N.Y., and a critic of widespread antipsychotic use in children, said these drugs damage developing brains.

"We have a national catastrophe," said Breggin. "This is a situation where we have ruined the brains of millions of children. In controlling behavior, antipsychotics act on the frontal lobes of the brain--the same area of the brain targeted by a lobotomy.

"These are lobotomizing drugs. Of course, they will reduce all behavior, including irritability."

Olfson's team found that most children treated with antipsychotic medications are diagnosed with ADHD, oppositional behavior and unspecified disruptive behavioral disorders.

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Title Annotation:RX RETAIL PHARMACY
Publication:Chain Drug Review
Date:Aug 27, 2012
Words:409
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