Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, more commonly known as ADD or ADHD, is a relative newcomer to the world of illnesses and disorders that are now treated medically. Nearly one in ten school-aged children are affected by ADHD in the United States, and over two-thirds of children diagnosed are male.
Forging New Territory: Pharmaceutical Treatment for ADHD
Because of the significant negative effects that ADHD can have on a child’s education and social life, doctors are still divided over the best course of treatment. Most commonly, doctors turn to stimulants like Ritalin or Adderall to address symptoms such as lack of focus and restlessness. As is common in young patients, however, symptoms present themselves in constantly changing ways. This can make finding the proper medication and dosage a challenge, and some doctors think that they have found another option—a very controversial option.
A recent study from the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that the use of antipsychotic medications, like those your son received, is on the rise among children and teens. The only problem with this is that the Food and Drug Administration has only approved the use of antipsychotics in this age group for the treatment of bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, irritability associated with autism, and certain symptoms of Tourette syndrome.
This leaves nearly 40 percent of antipsychotic prescriptions among kids and teens in the “off-label” use category—meaning that the FDA has not approved the use of these drugs to treat ADHD. Antipsychotics bring a slew of side effects to the table for young people, including diabetes and weight gain, but long-term effects are not yet known.
While this may be troubling to you as a parent, off-label uses for drugs are legal and fairly common. While it is likely that the pharmacist dispensed the drug properly according to your doctor’s orders, it is worth a call to both the doctor and pharmacist to ensure that the drug was not given in error. This will also give you a chance to discuss your concerns about antipsychotics with your doctor, and determine if that is a route that you want to pursue or abandon.
If your child was harmed by a prescription error, our law firm is available to help you today. Simply click on the live chat feature on this page, and you will receive immediate answers to your questions.