Antipsychotic drugs Not Effective for ADHD
Antipsychotic drugs are not effective in the treatment of
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders (ADHD). However, they continue to be
prescribed to youth who show aggressive and impulise behaviour, according to
researchers at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.
Mark Olfson, MD, MPH, senior author of the study said that there are substantial risks associated with the use of antipsychotic drugs in young people, including weight gain, hyerplipidemia, diabetes and even unexpected death.
The study report was based on medical and prescription drug data on 187,563 commercially insured youths (3-24 years of age) who were diagnosed with ADHD between 2010 and 2015. At the time of ADHD diagnosis, none of the youths were diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Anti-psychotic drugs use was highest 94.3%) in the youngest children diagnosed with ADHD, those aged 3-5 years.
In about half of those taking antipsychotic drugs, the researchers identified a potential diagnostic rationale—such as bipolar disorder, psychosis, ODD, or CD—for prescribing them.
“While antipsychotics are not FDA-approved for these diagnoses, there is scientific evidence to support their use in treating severe symptoms of ADHD,” says Ryan S. Sultan, MD, lead author of the paper and assistant professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.
The study also found that fewer than half of the children and adolescents taking antipsychotic drugs had been treated first with stimulants such as Adderall and Ritalin, the recommended medication treatment for ADHD.
“Many physicians bypassed stimulants and went right to antipsychotics contrary to expert opinion about treatment for ADHD and unnecessarily exposing patients to the risk of severe side effects such as substantial weight gain,” adds Sultan.