Why So Many Children Take Antipsychotics

Kids playing on the Tricycle Challenge gear for Bike for the Brain. When children take antipsychotics, what is happening?

Kids playing on the Tricycle Challenge gear for Bike for the Brain. When children take antipsychotics, what is happening?

A recent article by Dr. Mercola   points out the scope of the problem when children take antispychotics:

  • In recent years, there has been a massive increase so children take antipsychotics and other psych meds.
  • Aggressive, and often illegal, marketing by drug companies is believed to be a major contributing factor when children take antipsychotics. In recent years, every major manufacturer of atypical antipsychotics has been fined for illegally marketing their drugs for unapproved uses.
  • Prescriptions to make children take antipsychotics have increased eight-fold since 1993. Sales to teens have quintupled, while adult sales doubled in the same time frame.
  •  In 2008, an estimated $6 billion was spent on off-label antipsychotics in the US, of which $5.4 billion was for uses based on uncertain evidence
  • According to a recent study, nearly two-thirds of all antipsychotics prescribed to children between 2005 and 2009 were for the treatment of ADHD and other disruptive behaviors. In teens, 34 percent of all antipsychotic prescriptions were for behavior control.

Marketing to Doctors so children take antipsychotics

Drug makers are increasingly getting caught in the act of illegal marketing of this class of drugs. A list of the 20 biggest ever pharma settlements shows that most of the fines were due to off-label marketing.  12 out of the 20 settlements included a psych med component. As many recent blogs by 1boringoldman have pointed out, there is no way that the 1% of people who used to have a schizophrenia label could account for how many children take antipsychotics. Jansen CEO Alex Gorsky, who is up for fraud charges, is now on unextended leave out of the country and trying to avoid being put on the witness stand for harming kids.

was found guilty of the largest health fraud in US history, and was fined $3 billion after pleading guilty to three counts of criminal misdemeanor and other civil liabilities relating to a Paxil, Wellbutrin, and Avandia.  During the trial, which was covered by several bloggers, 1boringoldman came up with best summary.

Selling antipsychotics on every sales call:

From 1boringoldman:

Tore Jones, a former sales rep for Johnson and Johnson, answered the questions in an unemotional, matter-of-fact way – and his answers were quietly damning, famously saying, “You can’t be a billion dollar drug in a 1% market. They showed a training memo from his top Sales Rep, Laura Haughn, that said: “Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists“, “Provide with treatment under 13“, “Most diagnosed with behavior disorders or mood disorders“, “No indications!!!“, “Sell on symptoms not diagnosis“.

Did they target the Drug Utilization Board? “Yes“. Did they target the Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee? “Yes“. Did he recruit speakers? “Yes“. Did they downplay the incidence of Diabetes? “Yes“. Even after the warning letter? “Yes“. How often? “On every call“.

Were all sales messages approved by Janssen? “Yes“. Were these sales directives local or national? “National“. They showed him an organizational chart of the Janssen Sales Department and an email chain about selling Risperdal for children that traveled all the way to the top and down again. His testimony was delivered quietly, but it was devastating [and sounded truthful].

What about Medical Ethics?

This appeal by Dr. Mercola points out the problem with this situation:

American children are the most medicated children in the world. For example, they get three times more prescriptions for antidepressants and stimulants, and up to double the amount of antipsychotics than kids from Germany and the Netherlands.

How can we, as a society, continue to allow corporate profits to come before lives, and even before children’s lives?

It’s just not right. When you’re talking about powerful psychotropic, mind-altering drugs that in no way shape or form even begin to address the underlying cause of the disease, you’re entering an entirely different ballgame.

Unfortunately, psychiatric conditions are primarily believed to be the result of chemical dysfunction in your brain, or in some cases hereditary, and therefore out of your control. Many fail to realize that:

  1. Your lifestyle can override genetic predispositions, and
  2. Your lifestyle can be a major underlying cause of that chemical imbalance or dysfunction.

Editors note: However, not all the claims made by Dr. Mercola are 100% evidence based, either. We’ll do a future blog on how some natural remedy people can prey on people whose children take antipsychotics. Got any stories for us about when children take antipsychotics other things that can be done?

Wordworks Blog Author: Corinna West

Corinna West is the founder and creative director of Wellness Wordworks, and is an Olympic Team Member and has a Masters Degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry. Her Instant Peer Support might be the first in the mental health sector to remove the need for government and charity funding by creating a profitable interaction involving only our business and our direct customers.

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