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Children, Antipsychotic Drugs and the Risk of Diabetes


We know that children are not just small adults when it comes to prescriptions – yet many are prescribed the same powerful antipsychotic drugs as adults.

According to a newly published report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Psychiatry, children prescribed Seroquel, Risperdal, Zyprexa and Abilify were more susceptible to developing type-2 diabetes. The risk was tripled over a dozen years but could be seen after just one year and the risk did not subside after the drugs were stopped.

It’s notable that many of these drugs are used off-label. While Seroquel was approved for depressive and manic episodes associated with bipolar disorder, it is also prescribed to children who have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

The JAMA Psychiatry report is not new. In September 2003, the FDA recommended that six atypical antipsychotics, including Seroquel, carry a diabetes warning because of a study that linked three of the six medications to the disorder. According to the study, Seroquel patients were three times more likely to develop diabetes than those taking older drugs.

The general structure of antipsychotics has not changed much since the days of Thorazine, first synthesized in 1950.

The general mechanism of action of antipsychotics has not changed much since the days of Thorazine, first synthesized in 1950.

Risperdal is an atypical antipsychotic approved by the FDA for schizophrenia and manic states associated with bipolar disorder but is increasingly given to children for hyperactivity and to nursing home patients to quiet those individuals experiencing anxiety associated with dementia.

This study from Vanderbilt University included nearly 29,000 individuals ages 6 to 24, taking antipsychotic drugs, and more than 14,000 in a control group. In a follow-up after drug use, the three-fold increased risk for type 2 diabetes emerged after the first year of use and the risk of diabetes increased with cumulative dose.

According to Clinical Psychiatry News no matter how the data was analyzed, by age, complicating disorders or gender, there was a three-fold increase in this cohort study.

The head researcher reveals he has received funding from Cephalon and is on the speaker bureaus for Janssen Pharmaceuticals and Pfizer.

Besides diabetes in the young, the antipsychotic drugs Risperdal, Seroquel, Abilify and Zyprexa, have been linked to an increased risk of heart attack in the elderly in a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in March 2012.

Last year, AstraZeneca (Seroquel) agreed to pay $26 million to settle lawsuits in South Carolina to reimburse taxpayers who had been paying for the off-label use of Seroquel. AstraZeneca also paid $68.5 million in 36 states and the District of Columbia over allegations it illegally marketed Seroquel and withheld complications from doctors who prescribe the drug to the elderly and children.

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