The New York Times reports on a US government study which finds that the "newer" atypical antipsychotic medicines prescribed for schizophrenia in children and adolescents are no more effective than older, less expensive drugs and are more likely to cause some harmful side effects. The study is expected to be published online on The American Journal of Psychiatry. Serious side effects of the drugs studied, Risperdal and Zyprexa, included rapid, substantial weight gain and changes in cholesterol and insulin levels which are risk factors for diabetes.
The NYT report states there has been a steady increase in prescription of these drugs over the past two decades with 80% of children's prescriptions to treat something other than schizophrenia, like autism-related aggression, bipolar disorder or attention-deficit problems. 49 % of atypical antipsychotic prescriptions were used to treat disruptive behavior related to autism or A.D.H.D.
Two of the study's authors, lead researcher Dr. Linmarie Sikich and co-author Dr. Jon McClellan, indicate that older, milder medications should be considered as first line treatments and new therapies developed.