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Kids Dying From Off-Label Use Of Antipsychotics

By       Message Evelyn Pringle     Permalink
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The second most effective drug was Trilafon which stunned researchers. "The biggest surprise was that the oldest medication was comparable to at least three of the new medications and not much worse than Zyprexa," said Dr Jeffrey Lieberman, MD, who led the study.

Scientists involved in designing the study debated on whether to even include Trilafon, according to researcher, Robert Rosenheck, MD. "Many of us thought the question was decided and the old drugs were of no value," he said in a news conference.

Researcher, Robert Freedman, MD from the University of Colorado, published an editorial to accompany the report in the NEJM.

"No drug provided the majority of patients a treatment that lasted the full 18 months of the study," he wrote. "Only 36% of the patients receiving the most effective drug completed the trial," Dr Freedman said.

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In the end, 74% of patients elected to seek some other treatment rather than stay on their assigned medication. "The results could be viewed as discouraging," Dr Freedman wrote.

In what outraged critics are calling a blatant tax dollar funded marketing scheme, on May 1, 2006, the New York Times, revealed that "psychiatric researchers have been experimenting with a bold and controversial treatment strategy: they are prescribing drugs to young people at risk for schizophrenia who have not yet developed the full-blown disorder."

The findings from the trial, published in the May 2006 American Journal of Psychiatry, "suggest that this preventive approach is more difficult to put into effect -- and more treacherous -- than scientists had hoped," the NYTs says.

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The study was co-funded by Eli Lilly and the National Institute of Mental Health and involved 60 patients, mostly adolescents, who supposedly scored high on a scale that assesses the risk for psychosis. The scale rates the severity of over a dozen symptoms, that include categories such as grandiosity, suspiciousness, and bizarre thoughts.

From 20 to 45% of people who score high will go on to develop full-blown psychosis, in which the symptoms become extreme, researchers claim.

The trail subjects were divided into 2 groups, with one group receiving drugs and the other placebos.

In the first year of what was slated to be a 2-year trial, five of the 31 patients on medication developed full-blown psychosis, compared to 11 of the 29 subject on placebos.

However, by the end of the first year, more than two-thirds of the patients had quit, making it impossible to interpret any differences between the 2 groups.

The report said that some subjects dropped out without explaining why; others moved; and 10 quit because they either felt the drug was not helping, could not make the appointments or did not like the side effects.

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The only undisputable result was that patients taking medication gained an average of 20 pounds, once again verifying a side effect that has been documented for 15 years.

The prices charged for these drugs are over the top and their increased use, along with a few other types of psychiatric drugs, is in large part responsible for the escalating prescription drug costs.

The Medco Health Solution study determined that since 2001, antipsychotic costs for children have increased 196%, or nearly tripled, due to the increase in prescriptions written and the use of the new atypicals with children 97% of the time, rather than the older drugs that sell for only a fraction of prices charged for atypicals

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Evelyn Pringle is a columnist for OpEd News and investigative journalist focused on exposing corruption in government and corporate America.

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