Atypical Antipsychotics Overprescribed by U.S. Doctors: Study

More than half of all prescriptions for newer, atypical antipsychotics, such as Seroquel, Zyprexa and Risperdal, are given without evidence that the powerful drugs will actually help the patient, according to new research.

A study conducted by the Stanford Prevention Research Center, which was recently published in the medical journal Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety, indicates that Americans are spending billions of dollars on prescriptions for atypical antipsychotics for uses that have not been approved by the FDA, or established as safe and effective.

The lead researcher, Dr. Randall Stafford, said that the drugs should only be prescribed when doctors are sure that patients will derive substantial benefits that outweigh the potential side effects, which could include heart disease, weight gain and the risk of diabetes.

Did You Know?

AT&T Data Breach Impacts Millions of Customers

More than 73 million customers of AT&T may have had their names, addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers and other information released on the dark web due to a massive AT&T data breach. Lawsuits are being pursued to obtain financial compensation.

Learn More

After gathering data through a survey of about 1,800 physicians, the researchers found that the prescription of antipsychotics almost tripled from 6.2 million in 1995 to 16.7 million in 2008. They also found that prescriptions of antipsychotics for uses that were not approved by the FDA went from 4.4 million prescriptions in 1995 to 9 million in 2008.

Known as off-label prescriptions, those unapproved uses generated about $6 billion for drug companies, and the researchers say $5.4 billion of that was for prescriptions that were given by doctors who lacked solid evidence that the drugs would actually help their patients.

“Most people think, ‘If my doctor prescribed this, the FDA must have evaluated whether this drug was safe and effective for this use.’ That’s not true,” Stafford said. “Physicians want to prescribe and use the latest therapies – and even when those latest therapies doesn’t necessarily offer a big advantage, there’s still a tendency to think that the newest drugs must be better.”

Atypical antipsychotics generate more than $12 billion in sales every year, with Seroquel (quetiapine fumarate) leading the pack with nearly $4.45 billion in sales last year. A number of drug companies have gotten into legal trouble over their aggressive promotion of the drugs for a variety of uses unapproved by the FDA.

In 2009, Pfizer agreed to pay the largest criminal fine in U.S. history, $1.195 billion, to resolve claims that it illegally promoted the atypical antipsychotic Geodon, along with a number of other drugs.

In October 2010, a Louisiana jury issued a $257.7 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson for giving doctors misleading information about the risks and benefits of Risperdal. The company also faces a whistleblower lawsuit backed by the federal government that accuses it of paying kickbacks to Omnicare, a nursing home pharmacy supplier, to push the drug onto elderly patients.

In August, AstraZeneca announced that it had agreed to pay $198 million to settle 17,500 personal injury lawsuits filed by plaintiffs who allege that they suffered diabetes from side effects of Seroquel. Earlier that summer, the company told investors that it had paid about $711 million in total fighting the Seroquel lawsuits.

1 Comments

  • Daniel HaszardJanuary 10, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    Eli Lilly Zyprexa saga They called it the *Five at Five* (5 mg at 5 pm to keep nursing home patients subdued and sleepy) and *VIVA ZYPREXA* (Zyprexa for everybody) campaigns to off label market Eli Lilly Zyprexa as a fix for unapproved usage. A New York Times report reviews what has been accomplished by multiple civil and criminal lawsuits against Big Pharma companies that have relied on f[Show More]Eli Lilly Zyprexa saga They called it the *Five at Five* (5 mg at 5 pm to keep nursing home patients subdued and sleepy) and *VIVA ZYPREXA* (Zyprexa for everybody) campaigns to off label market Eli Lilly Zyprexa as a fix for unapproved usage. A New York Times report reviews what has been accomplished by multiple civil and criminal lawsuits against Big Pharma companies that have relied on fraud to market industry's worst pharmaceuticals--antipsychotic drugs--which have become industry's most profitable cash cow. "The new generation of antipsychotics has also become the single biggest target of the False Claims Act, a federal law once largely aimed at fraud among military contractors. Hundreds of millions of dollars or is currently under investigation for possible health care fraud." --- Daniel Haszard Zyprexa victim activist

Share Your Comments

I authorize the above comments be posted on this page*

Want your comments reviewed by a lawyer?

To have an attorney review your comments and contact you about a potential case, provide your contact information below. This will not be published.

NOTE: Providing information for review by an attorney does not form an attorney-client relationship.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

More Top Stories

Management of Ozempic Lawsuit Pretrial Proceedings To Be Reassigned Following Death of MDL Judge
Management of Ozempic Lawsuit Pretrial Proceedings To Be Reassigned Following Death of MDL Judge (Posted 6 days ago)

The judge overseeing Ozempic lawsuits consolidated in federal court has died, requiring a new judge to be assigned to oversee coordinated pretrial proceedings over claims the diabetes drug and similar medications caused stomach paralysis and other intestinal complications.