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Reducing off-label use of antipsychotic medications may save money
Date:5/15/2012

chotic use would not necessarily be of concern if there were scientific evidence supporting the effectiveness of these medications for conditions other than schizophrenia and bipolar disorder," Leslie said.

Off-label use is supported in the medical community, with the American Academy of Neurology endorsing the use of quinine for treatment-resistant leg cramps, for example. Since 2003, some of the antipsychotic medications have been approved by the FDA for the treatment of other conditions, including irritability in autism and treatment-resistant depression. However, at the time the data were collected they were considered off-label.

The rate of off-label use of antipsychotics is high compared to other medications. Other studies have shown off-label medication use includes cardiovascular drugs: 46 percent, anticonvulsants -- 46 percent, and antiasthmatics -- 42 percent.

"Antipsychotics were the highest selling medication class at $14.6 billion in 2009," Leslie said. "Medicaid bears a significant proportion of these costs. Hence, off-label use may be responsible for a considerable portion of state Medicaid budgets, with little or no documented clinical benefit and a substantial risk of adverse effects. Off-label use may be an area of potential savings with little impact on patient outcomes."

The newest antipsychotic drugs can cost up to $10 per day at doses recommended for patients with schizophrenia.

According to the researchers, more research is needed to determine if off-label use of antipsychotic medications yields substantial clinical benefit and to identify how doctors decide to prescribe these drugs for non-FDA approved conditions.

Reasons why drugs may be prescribed off-label include a lack of research results showing the drug's effectiveness in certain patients or for other conditions, or that the drugs may be used as a last resort for those patients who have not responded to other treatments. Further
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Contact: Matthew Solovey
msolovey@hmc.psu.edu
717-531-8606
Penn State
Source:Eurekalert

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