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Evidence lacking for widespread use of costly antipsychotic drugs, says Stanford researcher
Date:1/7/2011

d each is randomly assigned two days per quarter to provide data.

After identifying which antipsychotics were being used, and for what, the researchers assessed the strength of the evidence supporting those that lacked FDA approval, using efficacy ratings from the widely used drug compendium, Drugdex.

Lead author Caleb Alexander, MD, assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago, and colleagues conducted the analysis. Stafford supervised the project and with Alexander interpreted the data. Stanford clinical assistant professor of psychiatry Anthony Mascola, MD, provided expertise on the treatment of psychiatric conditions.

Among their findings:

  • Antipsychotic treatment prescribed during the surveyed doctors' visits nearly tripled from 6.2 million in 1995 to 16.7 million in 2008, the most recent year for which they had data. During this period, prescriptions for first-generation antipsychotics decreased from 5.2 million to 1 million.

  • Antipsychotic use for indications that lacked FDA approval by the end of 2008 increased from 4.4 million prescriptions during surveyed doctors' visits in 1995 to 9 million in 2008.

  • In 2008, more than half 54 percent of the surveyed prescriptions for the new-generation antipsychotics had uncertain evidence.

  • An estimated $6 billion was spent in 2008 on off-label use of antipsychotic medication nationwide, of which $5.4 billion was for uses with uncertain evidence.

  • Prescriptions for antipsychotics began dropping slightly in 2006, shortly after the FDA issued a warning about their safety.

Stafford suggests the upswing in prescriptions for antipsychotics despite the absence of good evidence for their value in many instances is the result of marketing whether legal or illegal and ingrained cultural tendencies. "Physicians want to prescribe and use the latest therapies and even when those latest therapies doesn'
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Contact: Rosanne Spector
manishma@stanford.edu
650-725-5374
Stanford University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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