January 4, 2010
If elderly people with dementia are so vulnerable to the risks posed by antipsychotics, why are so many nursing-home residents regularly prescribed the medications?
The answer can be found in a controversy with its roots in aggressive marketing and lackadaisical supervision. Known in the medical community as atypical antipsychotics, this group of drugs was originally approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat adults suffering from schizophrenia. They go by snazzy names such as Zyprexa, Geodon, Abilify, and Seroquel. Later, regulators allowed doctors to prescribe them for treating bipolar disorder. Over the past decade, the pills have become a veritable goldmine; in 2008 alone, sales in the U.S. reached $14.6 billion.
But critics say those big sales are actually due, in part, to an epidemic of off-label marketing, which is promoting a drug for unapproved uses, although doctors are free to write a prescription regardless. And so drugmakers encouraged doctors to prescribe these meds for children before the FDA sanctioned their use for youngsters. This was particularly troubling, given that the drugs can cause diabetes and weight gain, side effects that prompted thousands of lawsuits claiming that drugmakers tried to hide evidence of these problems.
Read entire article: http://www.portfolio.com/industry-news/health-care/2010/01/04/drugging-kids-for-profit/
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