“Off Label” Prescription Drug Study

The PaloAltoPatch has an informative article on a study conducted by researchers at Stanford and the University of Chicago on “off-label” prescribing. The headline of this article reads, Increasingly Popular Antipsychotic Drugs Aren’t Effective, Study Says.

Of the $6 billion spent, $5.4 billion–91 percent of prescriptions–was spent on off-label medications which may not even be effective as anti-psychotics, according to the study.

I guess this means that only 9 % of these nueroleptic drugs work effectively, but the phrasing is a little confusing.

The highest grossing drugs on the market, atypical anti-psychotics have come to account for nearly 5 percent of all U.S. drug expenditures since they were introduced to the prescription market in 1989.

Atypical neuroleptics are a goldmine to these drug makers, and so, they must be asking themselves, why should we refrain from using these drugs on people who are not psychotic.

The cause of thousands of lawsuits in recent years, atypical anti-psychotics “make up the single largest target of litigation filed under the federal False Claims Act,” according to a Stanford report.

Why, indeed. I should imagine because making a false claim about what your drug can do, when it has not been approved by the FDA to do that something, is fraud.

According to the study, the use of antipsychotics—both typical and atypical—nearly tripled from 6.2 million treatment visits in 1995 to 16.7 million visits in 2008.

The largest change occurred in adults ages 18-64, whose anti-psychotic use (typical and atypical) jumped from 5.1 million treatment visits in 2001 to 11.9 million visits in 2006.

I hate to think of what the long term consequences of this leap in “off label” prescriptions shall be, but what I can tell you is those consequences are not going to be good. We’re talking about drugs that tend to, 1. be ineffective at doing what they have been prescribed for, and 2. that have the potential to do a great deal of physical damage to anyone who takes them for a long length of time.

The most disturbing aspect of this increase in “off label” prescribing is apt to be found among children and adolescents. Where in the past there was little or no evidence of “serious mental illness” among the young, drug manufacturers have carved out a new marketing niche. The chances that many of these troubled youngsters will grow into permanently “disabled” adults are just too great to be ignored.

2 Responses

  1. “Psychiatry” is absolutely driven by Big Pharma. The FDA is ineffective, inept, useless, and corrupt.

    • Biological medical model psychiatry and Big Pharma are very much in cahoots, I couldn’t agree with you more on that score. If the FDA was out to protect the health of patients I would call it ineffective. I think the FDA cares more about protecting the profits of drug manufacturing corporations. In that, it is very effective. What I’m trying to say is that FDA officials have too many financial and business connections to Big Pharma. The problem is one of corruption. Later this month people are going to be testifying before the FDA about electroshock devices. Certain forces want to raise the status of shock devices from devices that are thought of as dangerous to devices that are thought of as safe. The problem with this is that these devices have never been tested for their relative safety or danger. If they had been, they would have never been approved by the FDA in the first place. This would be a way of getting around testing the devices for safety. These devices should go through the same trials that any other devices would go through. You don’t vote devices safe. This whole fiasco wouldn’t be taking place if there wasn’t an element of corruption in the FDA.

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