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Psychiatric Groups Warns Against Overuse of Atypical Antipsychotic Drugs

Sep 23, 2013

A leading group of national psychiatrists warns that the use of antipsychotic drugs should be reserved only for when safer treatments fail, as they believe these drugs – a list that includes Zyprexa and others – are overprescribed and often misused.

According to a USA Today report, the American Psychiatric Association has added a special section on the overuse of atypical antipsychotic drugs to a national campaign that highlights the potential dangers of some prescription drugs or other medical treatments.

The psychiatrists say that drugs known as atypical antipsychotics are associated with a growing number of side effects and are being prescribed for treatments never approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Basically, drugs like Zyprexa are being prescribed for too many patients, especially when other treatment options haven’t been explored.

Based on our past reports, drugs in the atypical antipsychotics class include Zyprexa, Abilify, Geodon, Risperdal and Seroquel; all have been linked to a growing number of dangerous side effects, yet despite these much-touted risks, these drugs are prescribed increasingly to patients for unapproved uses (commonly referred to as off-label use).

Our research shows that Zyprexa, specifically, was recently linked to a dangerous side effect known as Torsades de Pointes, a potentially fatal abnormality in the heart rhythm. Other reports we’ve noted have linked Zyprexa use to an increased risk of diabetes.

Risperdal has also made headlines – and not to praise of its benefits. Rather, after taking the antipsychotic medication, some young men are known to have developed a condition called gynecomastia (enlarged breasts in men). A number of studies, in fact, have linked Risperdal use to enlarged breast tissue in young men, and in September 2012, Johnson & Johnson settled the first of over 100 Risperdal gynecomastia lawsuits.

According to USA Today, the American Psychiatric Association noted that unapproved uses for which atypical antipsychotics are being increasingly prescribed include behavior problems among the elderly suffering from dementia, as well as similar aggressive behavior in children. These drugs also are seen by some doctors as treatment for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children. The psychiatric group has also sounded the alarm against using these drugs to treat adult insomnia.

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