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FDA Panel OKs Newer Antipsychotics for Children
Date:6/10/2009

Seroquel, Zyprexa and Geodon have been linked to certain health risks, experts note,,

WEDNESDAY, June 10 (HealthDay News) -- A U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly that Seroquel and Zyprexa, two powerful antipsychotic drugs, be approved to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in children aged 13 to 17.

The panel also handed down a decision on Geodon, a third antipsychotic in the same class. They found that drug to be safe and effective for the treatment of bipolar mania in children aged 10 to 17.

All three drugs are part of the new-generation "atypical" antipsychotics, currently approved for adult use. The medications have been prescribed "off-label" by many doctors for years to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in children ages 10 to 17, despite possible serious side effects, including diabetes and heart woes.

Seroquel is made by drug maker AstraZeneca. pharmaceutical giant Lilly makes Zyprexa, and Geodon is made by Pfizer.

There is a pressing need for effective antipsychotics for children, one expert noted.

"Schizophrenia and bipolar disorder are very real illnesses, which collectively affect between 1 percent and 3 percent of all young people," noted Dr. David Fassler, a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Vermont College of Medicine, who testified before the panel Tuesday. "Without treatment, children have problems at school, at home, and with their friends. They're also at increased risk of accidents, hospitalization, and death at an early age from multiple causes, including suicide."

And yet safety concerns plague many of these drugs. In 2004, the FDA ordered AstraZeneca to add a special "black box" warning to Seroquel's packaging, outlining increased risks of hyperglycemia, high blood pressure and diabetes associated with use of the drug. Also, older patients with dementia-related psychosis
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