The Herald Sun
March 24, 2010
CHILDREN as young as two are being prescribed anti-psychotic drugs that have been linked to deaths overseas.
Almost 2000 children aged under 18 were prescribed the drugs in Victoria in 2007-08.
Figures provided by the Therapeutic Goods Administration reveal at least four two-year-olds were among 422 under-10s given drugs designed to quell psychotic episodes normally found in adults with schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder.
But there are concerns some doctors are writing scripts for preschoolers and primary school children for unapproved medical reasons, such as behavioural problems.
“You can assume children under 12 are illegitimately being prescribed these drugs for behaviour problems. It should not be the case,” said University of South Australia’s Assoc Prof in psychiatry Dr Jon Jureidini.
“The vast majority of preschoolers who are prescribed are not for psychotic episodes but for behaviour problems,” he said.
“These drugs are not marketed, or recommended by the TGA, for that use.”
Common medications such as Risperdal, Zyprexa and Abilify are not approved for use in children under five due to the lack of evidence on their safety.
But the TGA has approved Risperdal to treat children with autism.
In 2007-08, almost 10,000 under-18s were prescribed anti-psychotic medication in Australia.
Side-effects can be so severe in adults that elderly patients with dementia are warned they have a higher risk of sudden death.