A new study from researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine, Stanford University and the University of Iowa funded by the National Institute of Mental Health recently tested four of the anti-psychotic medications commonly prescribed to patients over 40 years of age for off-label purposes.
The study found that these medications were not only ineffective for treating these conditions; they may also be unsafe as well. The researchers found that off-label use of aripiprazole (Abilify), olanzapine (Zyprexa), quetiapine (Seroquel), and resperidone (Risperdal) should be limited to short-term only, and patients should be monitored closely.
Meds that Lead to Disease
The five-year study found that within one year of treatment, a third of the patients involved developed metabolic syndrome. Within two years, nearly a quarter of them developed serious side effects.
In order to maintain the clinical integrity of the trial without compromising the patients’ health, researchers used a method known as “equipoise stratified randomization,” which combines complete randomization and clinician’s treatment of choice.
The study was designed to give the medications the best chance of success while minimizing bias. Medications were randomized for an average of two months, as the random treatments often produced adverse side effects or were ineffective.
Seroquel in particular proved to be troublesome and had to be discontinued halfway through the trial due to serious adverse events. Researchers studying the effects of the other medications tested found that in patients who suffered from delusions, hallucinations, depression, anxiety, and unusual behavior found no significant improvement.
Researchers felt that the risk to benefit ratio for patients over 40 was not particularly favorable. They suggest that physicians should use a great deal of caution when prescribing the medications, and begin with low doses and for only short periods of time.
Patients should also be monitored for any adverse side effects closely. They hope that new interventions for this group of patients will be developed and tested to be far more effective and safe than these methods currently being used.
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Mike Bundrant is the author of Your Achilles Eel: Discover and Overcome the Hidden Source of Negativity, Bad Decisions and Self-Sabotage. Click here to learn more.