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Posts Tagged ‘drug experiment’

Trends in Prescribing Drugs to Children

by admin on: December 13th, 2011

An alarming trend has begun to emerge. Children are being prescribed more and more potent drugs. According to a study by researchers from Columbia University (January 2010), between the years of 2000 and 2007, the rate that antipsychotic drugs are being prescribed to treat privately insured children, ages two to five years old, has doubled. Perhaps, just as stunning is that only 40 percent of these children had received a proper mental health assessment. Another study conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tallied the number of children and adolescents currently taking antipsychotic drugs to be 500,000.

There is a growing debate about whether these children are being perscribed drugs at too young an age. On one side of the argument is the idea that radical treatments are necessary. For example, the drug Risperdal (Risperidone), an antipsychotic drug typically used to treat schizophrenia, was approved by the FDA for treating children as young as 5 that presented with autistic disorder, aggressive behavior, severe mood swings, and tantrums.

On the other side of the argument, physicians say that perscribing these drugs to children is potentially dangerous, and that they may affect the development of the children’s brains and bodies. This is particularly troubling when one considers the fact that physicians can legally prescribe these kinds of drugs for off-label use even in the absence of research studies that can demonstrate that these drugs are either safe or effective in children of particular ages. One reason for this ability is that it is very difficult for physicians to diagnose medical conditions that warrant these kinds of drugs in children.

However, within the past few years, some states have passed restrictions that require a second opinion prior to writing prescriptions and the FDA has also strengthened warnings on using these drugs to treat children ??? hopefully, a step in the right direction.