Friday, January 19, 2007

Off label use of Atypicals

This article about off label uses of atypicals does not mention the wide use in prison populations.

Some newer antipsychotic medications approved to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are being prescribed to millions of Americans for depression, dementia, and other psychiatric disorders without strong evidence that such off-label uses are effective, according to a new analysis by HHS’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

The federally funded comparative effectiveness review of these drugs – called atypical antipsychotics – identified the medications’ potential for serious side effects while pointing to an “urgent need” for more research into new treatments for the growing population of dementia patients who display severe agitation.


Overall, however, researchers found that much of the scientific evidence for off-label use of antipsychotics was of insufficient quality because studies were too small or lacked scientific rigor.

Review authors evaluating the potential benefits and risks of the medications also found strong evidence that atypical antipsychotics can increase chances of adverse events. Some of the drugs increase risks of stroke, tremors, significant weight gain, sedation, and gastrointestinal problems.

The new review was produced by AHRQ’s Effective Health Care program. It was authored by AHRQ’s Southern California/RAND Evidence-based Practice Center. The center examined 84 published studies on atypical antipsychotics and summarized evidence about several conditions:

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