US Doctors Prescribe Drugs Too Often


American children take anti-psychotic drugs more often than their counterparts in Europe, says a recent British study. The number of juvenile patients using the drugs has doubled in five years.

The study, published in the May issue of the Pediatrics journal, shows that every 45 out of 10,000 American children were prescribed anti-psychotic drugs in 2001. In comparison, five years earlier this number was 23. In the same period of time, the number of British children who used various antidepressants also doubled, however, the rate was still relatively small: from four per 10,000 in 1992 to seven in 2005.

American doctors, reports the study, prescribe anti-psychotic drugs more willingly than their counterparts in Great Britain. It can be explained by unhealthy relationship between some physicians and the powerful medical industry, which forcefully advertise their products in the U.S. media. In Great Britain, on the other hand, doctors tend to use other methods before resorting to giving young patients helpful but dangerous drugs. Referring to the overuse of anti-psychotics in America, the study urged for “long-term investigations and ongoing clinical monitoring,” especially, “if the prescribing rate of these medicines continues to rise.”

The study alarms that very little is known about the side effects of anti-psychotic drugs. According to the British scientists, among the many negatives are: weight gain, heart-related problems, and nervous breakdowns. Dr. William Cooper of Vanderbilt University told the CNN that the drugs are often prescribed “without full understanding about the risks.” Parents perceive anti-psychotics as a magic panacea for their children’s problems and doctors fail to inform them about the other side of the coin.

Although the study concentrates on children in Great Britain and the United states, scientists say that the overprescription of anti-psychotic drugs is a global trend. “I find it really interesting that we’re now seeing increases in other countries besides the U.S., which suggests that the magnitude of this issue is global,” said Dr. Cooper. Pursuing their professional careers, many parents do not find a hole in their tight schedules for their children who, neglected, are prone to various mental problems. With no time for a proper therapy, anti-psychotic drugs seem to be a simple answer.

Anti-psychotic drugs, say doctors, are like antibiotics. They are invaluable help when prescribed in proper quantities, but overused can easily lead to serious diseases.

Krzys Wasilewski, while living in Poland, completing his masters degree in International Relations, was seduced by English Literature.