American psychiatry and government drug oversight bodies came under attack again this week when a panel of federal drug experts concluded that “powerful antipsychotic medicines are being used far too cavalierly in children, and federal drug regulators must do more to warn doctors of their substantial risks.”
The New York Times article about the panel’s report noted that:
More than 389,000 children and teenagers were treated last year with Risperdal, one of five popular medicines known as atypical antipsychotics. Of those patients, 240,000 were 12 or younger, according to data presented to the committee. In many cases, the drug was prescribed to treat attention deficit disorders. But Risperdal is not approved for attention deficit problems, and its risks — which include substantial weight gain, metabolic disorders and muscular tics that can be permanent — are too profound to justify its use in treating such disorders, panel members said.
Committee members unanimously rejected the [Food and Drug Administration’s] proposals [that the committee endorse the agency’s routine monitoring of the safety of the medicines in children], saying that far more needed to be done to discourage the medicines’ growing use in children, particularly to treat conditions for which the medicines have not been approved.”