The Herald Sun
March 24, 2010
CHILDREN as young as one are being prescribed powerful anti-psychotic drugs that have been linked to deaths overseas.
The strong medication is designed to quell psychotic episodes normally experienced by adults with schizophrenia and bi-polar.
There are concerns some doctors are illegitimately writing scripts for pre-schoolers and primary school children for unapproved medical reasons, such as behavioural problems or ADHD.
Figures provided by the Therapeutic Goods Administration showed up to 3351 NSW children aged under 18 were prescribed the drugs in 2007-08.
Of them, at least 62 toddlers aged five and under — including five one-year-olds — were prescribed the drugs in NSW in that period.
“You can assume children under 12 are illegitimately being prescribed these drugs for behaviour problems. It should not be the case,” University of South Australia’s associate professor in psychiatry Dr Jon Jureidini said yesterday.
“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 children under five. The TGA has approved Risperdal to treat children with autism.
Side effects can be so severe in adults that elderly patients with dementia are warned they have a higher risk of sudden death.