Antipsychotic Drug Use Among Kids Dramatically Increased

An AP story appearing on the May 3, 2006 InteliHealth website paints a disturbing picture of increased antipsychotic medication usage in children. According to a study done by Medco Health Solutions Inc., the four years ending in 2005 saw an increased usage of antipsychotic medication in children by 73 percent. Additionally, a new class of these drugs known as “atypical antipsychotics” used primarily by people 19 and younger saw an increase of 80 percent over the same period.

The article did note that even with the dramatic increase in usage among the young, adults were still the overwhelming majority of those using these medications. In 2005, 85 percent of prescriptions for antipsychotic medications were for adults while only 15 percent were for children.

Dr. Amita Dasmanapatra, senior director of medical affairs at Medco noted that she believes that some doctors are prescribing the drugs for children with behavioral problems, which she believes would be better controlled by other means. She stated, “Still, the sharp increase is noteworthy because the powerful drugs are for individuals with serious psychosis such as schizophrenia so there is some concern the medicines may not always be prescribed appropriately.”

The article notes that the atypical antipsychotics aren’t approved for use in children, but that nothing stops doctors from using them on children if they wish.