Study: No evidence to support off-label prescribing of atypical antipsychotics

HHS report published in Journal of the American Medical Association

ROCKVILLE, Md. — A new report from the Department of Health and Human Services' Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality found little evidence to support the use of atypical antipsychotic drugs for uses other than those for which they have official approval.

The report, published in the Sept. 28 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that though atypical antipsychotic medications are effective in treating schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and sometimes depression, there was no evidence that they could be used to treat substance abuse problems, eating disorders or insomnia. The report is an update of a report from 2007 that found some evidence that atypical antipsychotics could work for such conditions as dementia, anxiety disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

"While atypical antipsychotic medications are not for everyone, many patients who suffer from psychiatric conditions have found these drugs to be very helpful," AHRQ director Carolyn Clancy said. "However, their off-label use, while in some cases beneficial, is of concern because we just don't know enough about their effectiveness and safety for multiple behavioral conditions."

The Food and Drug Administration has approved nine atypical antipsychotics, including AstraZeneca's Seroquel (quetiapine), Johnson & Johnson's Risperdal (risperidone) and Bristol-Myers Squibb's and Otsuka's Abilify (aripiprazole).


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