Popularity of Off-Label Antipsychotic Use Grows


Fueled by aggressive marketing that hyped atypical antipsychotics as safe and effective for off-label uses, states an article in The Washington Post yesterday, sales of the drugs for off-label uses doubled from 1995 to 2008, with people seeking out antipsychotics for uses such as insomnia. Sales of antipsychotics as a class rose more than 169% between 2001 and 2010, making them one of the best-selling drugs; ahead of antidepressants and sometimes cholesterol medications. 

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. In my experience doctors don’t either take side effects of atypical antipsychotics seriously or they pretend that they don’t exist. My son developed NMS on olanzapine and i was told repeatedly by 3 different doctors that you could not get NMS from olanzapine. Nobody wanted to help when he tried to get off that medication. He developed severe insomnia and akathesia and still noone took him seriously. Then he tried to commit suicide. The psychiatrists we consulted told him just to stop taking the olanzapine, that there were no withdrawal symptoms from it. It was in 2008.I think psychiatrists and doctors need educating. I knew more about atypical antipsychotics than they did thanks to Peter Breggin

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  2. This has been going on for so long it’s frightening. I worked in juvenile detention in FL for 5 yrs. and complained constantly about doctors prescribing this for “sleep” or “acting out”. They were never told of the side effects and given that they were in detention, they’re parents rarely cared. These meds were often handed out to them in “programs” later, or given to them by school social workers. They were overmedicated and there was no medical reason for this. The Dept. of Juvenile Justice didn’t care, Dept of Children & Families didn’t care, as I made numerous complaints. No one cares. It is done by private doctors, in prisons, by psychologists, etc. It is an appalling situation and it is still going on in VA in adult psychiatric hospitals.

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