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Off-Label Use of Newer Antipsychotic Drugs Unhelpful in Substance Use Disorders

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A review of studies looking at newer antipsychotic drugs prescribed “off label” for conditions including substance use and eating disorders finds they are not effective in treating these conditions.

The drugs, called atypical antipsychotics, are sold under brand names such as Risperdal, Abilify, Zyprexa and Seroquel.

Reuters reports these drugs are approved for several psychiatric conditions, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Doctors can also prescribe them “off label” for other conditions, usually when patients have not responded to more standard therapy.

Researchers from RAND Health in Santa Monica, California, combined data from 162 studies of atypical antipsychotics prescribed for “off label” uses. They concluded the studies showed the drugs did not have an effect in patients with drug and alcohol abuse, or with eating disorders.

The drugs did have side effects, however, including tremors, stroke, weight gain and fatigue, they wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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