Federal Officials Probe Antipsychotic Drug Prescriptions
According to the Wall Street Journal, federal officials are probing the use of antipsychotic drugs on children in the Medicaid system. This comes after rising concerns that the drugs are being prescribed to freely in the treatment of behavioral problems in the very young.
Overprescribing of Atypical Antipsychotic Drugs
- The antipsychotic drugs being probed are those known as “atypical” antipsychotics.
- This classification of drug encompasses major brand name drugs like Abilify, Risperdal, Serquel, and Zyprexa.
- Though the drugs were originally developed to treat psychoses such as schizophrenia, some now carry FDA approval for treatment of conditions in children including bipolar disorder and irritability associated with autism.
- Some doctors are concerned that antipsychotic drugs are being prescribed too eagerly in situations that would be better handled by children and caregivers working to understand what triggers troubling behavior.
According to the FDA, some atypical antipychotics carry serious side effects including:
- Diabetes Mellitus
- Gynecomastia (breast development in males)
- Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome (may lead to death)
Feds Investigate Atypical Antipsychotic Drug Prescriptions
- The probe began with the inspector general’s office at the Department of Health and Human Services (DHH).
- The DHH is now working with all 50 states to review how atypical antipsychotics are being prescribed to Medicaid-eligible young people.
- Currently, Medicaid spends more on these antipsychotics than any other class of drug.
- In 2008, Medicaid spent approximately $3.6 billion dollars on antipsychotics for over 600,000 children. This is more than double the $1.65 billion spent in 1999 according to Mathematica Policy Research.
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