Coordinated approach necessary in monitoring children treated with anti-psychotics

November 27, 2013

Dr. Judy Illes and colleague Dr. Nina Di Pietro of NeuroDevNet's Neuroethics Core have issued a call for better monitoring of children whose behaviour is being regulated with anti-psychotic drugs.

In and editorial published in the Vancouver Sun Nov. 27, Dr.s Illes and Di Pietro applaud positive steps such as recent American Psychiatric Association recommendations that emphasize the importance of careful selection of firstline interventions, evaluation and ongoing health monitoring for adverse side effects as well as limitations on the use of multiple prescriptions at once.

In the past 10 years, Illes and Di Pietro note, off-label prescriptions have skyrocketed for second-generation antipsychotic drugs intended to treat children suffering from problems of attention, non-specific mood disorders and disruptive behaviours.

"We endorse the APA's recommendations wholeheartedly," they write, "but are concerned that this way forward will be difficult to follow until affordable and accessible health care services are in place to provide alternatives and the necessary ongoing health and safety monitoring. In most communities throughout BC, specialized treatment services for children at risk for social problems, and emotional or behavioural disorders are limited. Efforts to heed APA recommendations will also be challenged if the complex underlying societal, cultural, economic, and political reasons for the rise in prescription rates of antipsychotic medications for children are not addressed."

Highlighting recent, progressive initiatives in British Columbia, the co-authors urge "decision-makers in our health and policy systems to work with physicians and allied health care providers, health researchers, and families with lived experience of mental illness, to identify and vigorously pursue priorities that will have tangible impact."

To read the editorial in full, click here to visit the Vancouver Sun website.