Antipsychotics provide few benefits for unapproved use

Added by on September 28, 2011

A study reveals only some patients benefit when prescribed certain antipsychotic drugs for conditions they're not approved to treat

A study published on Wednesday reveals only a few patients benefit when prescribed certain antipsychotic drugs for conditions they’re not approved to treat.

The study reviewed the use of newer antipsychotic drugs like aripiprazole, known as Abilify in the US; olanzapine, known as Zyprexa; and quetiapine, which is known as Seroquel in the US. The drugs are referred to as atypical antipsychotics and are approved by the US Federal Drug Administration (FDA) for psychiatric conditions like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

The study’s author said that there are many psychiatric conditions that are difficult to treat and drugs that work for one condition are often thought to be potentially useful for unapproved, or off-label, use.

Typical off-label use is for people that have not responded to standard treatments for conditions like eating disorders and substance abuse.

Off-label prescription of psychoactive drugs is common for use in conditions that include anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder, which are often treated with selective serotonin reuptake (SSRI) antidepressants. The SSRI antidepressants sometimes don’t work.

The study reviewed the records and other scientific literature in about 300 studies that compared using atypical antipsychotic drugs to using a placebo pill (a drug-free pill) and found that they had no effects when prescribed for conditions outside the drugs’ approved use.

The study revealed some benefit for dementia patients that also have psychotic symptoms.

The study found that more people with anxiety disorder got better when taking quetiapine, (Seroquel) as compared to people that took a placebo.

The study’s author concluded that each individual patient situation needs to considered as opposed to using a drug only for its approved uses.

The study appears in the September 28 edition of The Journal of the American Medical Association.