Ottawa Citizen, By Sharon Kirkey
May 20, 2013
Dr. Dina Panagiotopoulos, a pediatric endocrinologist at BC Children’s Hospital, says “second-generation” antipsychotics are being prescribed to two- and three-year-olds for aggression.
Dr. Dina Panagiotopoulos’s investigations into some of the most potent psychiatric drugs on the market began when other doctors started calling for help.
Could she see a child on an antipsychotic drug who had developed a potentially lethal condition that can end in a diabetic coma?
Another child on an antipsychotic was now experiencing uncontrollable twitching and muscle spasms. Still another had returned to her psychiatrist a year after starting a similar drug, 50 pounds heavier and almost unrecognizable.
In a sign of what experts are calling an unprecedented spree in the prescribing of mood-altering pills, drugs once reserved for the floridly psychotic are now being given to children still in diapers.
According to Panagiotopoulos, a pediatric endocrinologist at BC Children’s Hospital, so-called “second-generation” antipsychotics, or SGAs, are being prescribed to two- and three-year-olds for aggression. Doctors have become so used to seeing side effects in children on these drugs — including sudden and massive weight gain and diabetes — that they no longer bother reporting them to Health Canada.
“A lot of parents come to me as a specialist and say, ‘No one ever told me about the side effects, and I didn’t think to ask,’ ” said Panagiotopoulos, an associate professor at the University of British Columbia. “They can’t understand why their kid went from drinking water, to seven litres of Coke every week.”
There appears to be no limit to how much we’re willing to allow doctors to medicate our apparent psychological angst. Last year, more than 74 million prescriptions worth $2.6 billion were filled for psychiatric drugs in Canada — more than 203,000 prescriptions a day, and up from 58 million prescriptions in total in 2008, according to data compiled by prescription drug research firm IMS Brogan for Postmedia News.
The growing embrace of medications to treat “broken” minds is a triumph of drug company marketing, experts say, the selling of new diagnoses and overzealous prescribing of pills for conditions for which they have never been approved. Read the rest of the article here.