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Group Releases List of Questionable Uses for Antipsychotic Drugs

Filed September 23rd, 2013 Laurie

A leading group of psychiatrists warns that antipsychotic drugs — such as Zyprexa, Abilify, and Seroquel — should not be the first treatment doctors or patients turn to when dealing with elderly people suffering from dementia, children’s behavioral problems, or adult insomnia.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) launched a campaign aimed at educating patients and doctors about unnecessary and potentially harmful medical treatments and tests. More than 50 medical groups have added their voices to the Choosing Wisely campaign, compiling lists of common practices that doctors and patients should question, according to

The most recent list focuses on the misuse of antipsychotic drugs, including older drugs used to treat bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. The newer antipsychotic drugs, called atypical antipsychotics, are being increasingly used on nursing home residents and children who display unwanted behavior. The APA says it is “questionable” to use atypical antipsychotics for the purposes of:

  • Managing the behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia. Side effects can include confusion, sedation and hastened death.
  • Children and teens with any condition other than a psychotic disorder. Use of these drugs in children and teens has been linked to weight gain, cardiovascular changes, and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Adult insomnia.

A campaign to reduce the number of antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes is under way, and the Inspector General’s Office in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is looking into cases in which Medicaid covered the medication when used as treatment for children, according to

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