Antipsychotic Drug Boom

Prescriptions for antipsychotic drugs have more than doubled in the U.S. over the past 15 years, often given for conditions for which there is scant evidence they work.

Expensive antipsychotics were originally approved to treat schizophrenia. They are now also prescribed for conditions including anxiety disorders and dementia, even though the Food and Drug Administration has not approved these off-label uses. The side effects of such drugs can include diabetes, weight gain and an increased risk of heart disease. Caleb Alexander at the University of Chicago and colleagues analysed the results of a survey of visits to doctors between 1995 and 2008. In the sample population, the prescriptions of antipsychotics went from 6.2 million in 1995 to 16.7 million in 2006 and fell to 14.3 million in 2008.

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