By Mary Elizabeth Dallas
Originally published on September 18, 2012
Over the past decade, off-label use of antipsychotic drugs has increased among children enrolled in Medicaid, according to a new study representing 35 percent of children in the United States.
Off-label drug use is a term used to describe when drugs are prescribed using a dosage, type of dosage or for a purpose that hasn't yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
In the study, researchers from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia found a 62 percent jump in the number of publicly insured children between the ages of 3 and 18 taking antipsychotics. In 2007 alone, 65 percent of the 354,000 children on these drugs were taking them for uses that have not been approved by the FDA, the investigators pointed out.
"We knew that the number of children prescribed antipsychotics had grown steadily over the past two decades, particularly among children with public insurance," study author Meredith Matone, a researcher at PolicyLab, said in a hospital news release. "With this study, we wanted to learn more about why these drugs are being used so often, what diagnoses they're being used to treat, and how prescribing patterns changed over the course of the last decade."