More Doctors Prescribing Antipsychotics to Kids for Off-Label Uses

By:  Raven Clabough
12/27/2013
       
More Doctors Prescribing Antipsychotics to Kids for Off-Label Uses

According to an article published this month in Consumer Reports, the number of children taking antipsychotic drugs is rising at alarming rates. Research shows that those numbers have nearly tripled over the last decade, not simply because there is a sudden increase in the number of children with schizophrenia or any other serious mental illness, but because more doctors are prescribing drugs to treat behavioral problems.

Consumer Reports writes,

Doctors are prescribing antipsychotics even though there’s minimal evidence that the drugs help kids for approved uses, much less the unapproved ones, such as behavioral problems. And to make matters worse, the little research there is suggests the drugs can cause troubling side effects, including weight gain, high cholesterol, and an increased risk of type-2 diabetes.

Some believe that the increase in these prescriptions results from parents looking to find an easy solution to their children's behavioral problems.

“There’s a societal trend to look for the quick fix, the magic bullet that will correct disruptive behaviors,” said David Rubin, M.D., associate professor of pediatrics at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. “But for those looking for a quick solution to escalating behaviors at home, the hard truth is there is unlikely to be a quick fix.”

Consumer Reports also notes the increase in the prescribing of antipsychotics can be attributed to several other factors, including aggressive drug marketing and a lack of access to quality healthcare.

“Use is really high among kids in the Medicaid system where decent non-drug services may be difficult to find,” says Rubin, who also points out that even kids with private insurance often don’t have coverage for psychiatric care or counseling.

Click here to read the entire article.

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