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Mental Health Center

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Study: Newer Antipsychotic Drugs Are Overused

Researchers Say Many Doctors Prescribe Drugs Despite Lack of Evidence of Effectiveness

AstraZeneca Responds continued...

The company has worked diligently with the FDA to ensure that the safety profile of Seroquel is reflected appropriately in the prescribing information so that health care professionals can weigh the risk and benefit of Seroquel when making treatment decisions.

It is AstraZeneca’s policy to promote our medicines and to conduct interactions with healthcare professionals in compliance with the laws and regulations that govern the healthcare community in the United States. We train AstraZeneca employees to follow our compliance policies.”

Putting the Brakes on Inappropriate Use

Experts feel the overuse of these medications will need to be addressed on several fronts.

“There are several strategies that can be used to achieve more rational use of these and other psychotropic medicines, including patient and physician education, FDA empowerment, and denial of payments by public and private payers for uses that lack sufficient scientific evidence,” Alexander says.

Lieberman said more comparative effectiveness studies would help doctors better understand when drugs in the atypical antipsychotic class were superior to each other or to older drugs, and that would better inform prescribing practices.

“It’s a bit like going to the supermarket and trying to buy laundry detergent: This one has enzymes; this one has brighteners.” he says. “But we don’t really know how the drugs compare to each other.”

Many felt that the solution should not include preventing doctors from being able to prescribe drugs off-label.

“Off-label prescribing is an important component of practice,” Lieberman says. “The reason is that it really takes a lot of money for a drug company to jump through all the hoops to get an FDA indication. There may be good evidence that a drug is effective in a given condition, but the company doesn’t see enough of a market there to get it approved.”

But he admits that many doctors may be using too free a hand with the prescription pad.

“On the other hand, you don’t want to be promiscuous and abuse that privilege,” he says.

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