Docs Pushing More Hard Drugs on Kids

At Time, Maia Szalavitz tells of some really, really bad medicine:

The new study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, found that in 2005-09 nearly two thirds of all antipsychotic prescriptions for youth were written for ADHD and other disruptive behavior disorders; these conditions accounted for 34% of all antipsychotic prescriptions for teens. Yet there is little data supporting the safety or efficacy of the drugs for those conditions. The drugs’ effect on children’s brain development is also not known, but their side effect profile is clear: aytpical antipsychotics are known to cause weight gain and diabetes, side effects to which children seem particularly prone.

“As the actual evidence base that would support [such off-label prescriptions of antipsychotics] is scant to non-existent, and the evidence of permeating undue influence of pharma on prescribing practices in psychiatry is abundant, one is led to the conclusion that this is another example of irrational prescribing that can be traced to both the overt and tacit influence of [drug companies] on practitioners,” says Dr. Bruce Perry, a senior fellow at the ChildTrauma Academy. [Full disclosure: Perry and I have co-authored two books.]

Antipsychotics are enormously powerful drugs, and we’ve very little knowledge about what they might do to the growing brain. That anyone would prescribe them for ADHD beggars the imagination. That the rate should go up recently, when critiques of overdiagnosis and overprescription have skyrocketed, is just stunning.

And there’s more. You should definitely read the whole thing — short, important, and sickening — over at Time: Antipsychotic Prescriptions in Children Have Skyrocketed


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