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Kids Dying From Off-Label Use Of Antipsychotics

By       Message Evelyn Pringle     Permalink
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Overall, in 2002, the total sales of antypicals to patients of all ages reached $6.4 billion, making them the fourth-highest-selling class of drugs in the US, according to IMS Health, a company that tracks drug sales.

Two years later in 2004, total sales had jumped more than $2 billion to $8.8 billion, with $2.4 billion of that amount paid by state Medicaid funds, according to the May/June 2005 issue of Mother Jones Magazine.

Schizophrenia drugs account for the biggest share of the $39 billion that states spend each year on prescription drugs.

On October 23, 2005, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that nationwide, "Medicaid programs purchase an estimated 60 to 75 percent of antipsychotic drugs."

The highest expenditure for California's Medicaid, was Zyprexa at close to $250 million for the year that ended June 2005. Risperdal and Seroquel, ranked 2nd and 4th in the list of high cost drugs funded by Medicaid.

The costliest per month is Zyprexa, at an average cost of $399.26, according to the California Department of Health Services.

In 2002, the Kentucky Medicaid program ended up with a $230 million deficit and the $36 million bill for Zyprexa was the state's largest per drug expense.

Judging by third quarter earning reports for 2005, fifteen years of negative studies have had no effect on sales that show:

Seroquel, $706 million, up 32%

Abilify, $206 million, up 58%

Geodon, $148 million, up 18%

Zyprexa, $1.035 billion, up 1%

In a disgusting twist of fate, Zyprexa's maker, Eli Lilly's diabetes drugs earned $653 million, up 13% when Zyprexa has consistently been found to be most likely drug to cause weight gain and high blood sugar leading to diabetes.

Risperdal is still Johnson & Johnson's top-selling drug, and had sales of $916 million in the 3rd quarter, up 23% from the same period a year earlier.

This great news for J&J but translates into 916 fatalities for Risperdal patients, according to estimates by Allen Jones, a former investigator in the Pennsylvania Office of the Inspector General, who says, "my best effort at correlating dollars spent with deaths from drug side effects suggests that people may be dying from side effects from the schizophrenia drugs alone at the rate of at least one death for each one million dollars spent on these drugs."

"The actual numbers may reflect a much higher death rate," he warns.

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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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