Psychotropics Drive Record 4.02 Billion U.S. Prescriptions in 2011


With drugs for ADHD increasing 17%, and an “unprecedented increase in patients taking antidepressants and antipsychotics,” overall prescription drug sales in the United States reached a record $319.9 billion in 2011 despite downward pressure from the sale of generics. According to ACS Chemical Neuroscience antipsychotic sales grew $2.1 billion from 2010 sales to reach $18.2 billion, an increase of 2.4% in the number of prescriptions that was filled 60% of the time by brand-name rather than generic drugs.

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Lindsley, C. The Top Prescription Drugs of 2011 in the United States: Antipsychotics and Antidepressants Once Again Lead CNS Therapeutics. ACS Chemical Neuroscience, 2012, 3(8), pp 630-631

Of further interest:
Record 4.02 billion prescriptions in United States in 2011

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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. I appreciate this being posted as it’s a reminder, in case we needed it, that there’s big money on the line. Many many people are invested in the status quo and resist strongly the reform efforts espoused on MIA.

    We’re past due for more studies focusing on the lifespans of persons taking psychotropic drugs versus those who do not. The last major reported, often cited, is that there is about a 25 year difference. Are there more studies like this? Are we including persons who begin these drug regimes as children?


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  2. Last week, there was a call from a MiA blogger for a more “nuanced” approach to psychotropic drugs…
    an end to all that nasty black-and-white thinking, once-and-for-all.

    Are you kidding me?!

    Look at the money made with these drugs.
    Unfreakin’ believable!

    And the taxpayer is *forced* to pay for these useless and dangerous drugs – for foster care kids, Medicaid kids, elderly folks in nursing homes, and war-traumatized vets.

    The cost?
    A thousand bucks a month, for one drug.
    And some folks are on cocktails!

    And thanks to NAMI (and its “nuanced” approach), “parity” was tacked onto a bill a few years back (at the 11th hour, in the dar of the night), and now *private* insurance companies have to pay for these same useless and dangerous drugs.

    Friends don’t let friends join NAMI!


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  3. It’s quite remarkable that we have more information than ever that these drugs don’t work and kill you yet more prescriptions are being written. Once again, how do we plan on stopping doctors from killing people? The time for being a keyboard warrior is over.

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  4. Legal action is needed, but the fines aren’t enough to discourage their evil marketing actions – they still make way more money than any fines they’re assessed, and probably see lawsuits as a cost of doing business. I think we need some criminal prosecutions of CEOs and medical advisors who are lying to the public to create more profits for their firms.

    It might also help to have an FDA that isn’t laced with people that have pharmaceutical company backgrounds. How about a citizen board to review these drugs, with “distribution requirements” that say you need to have people from a range of backgrounds and interests on the panel, including (of course) a minimum number of psychiatric abuse survivors, oh, whoops, I mean “peer advisers” to give real feedback about what happens and who will take such feedback seriously from others.

    Other possibilities include changing the FDA rules so that all studies must be submitted for a drug’s consideration, and that the studies as a whole have to prove the drug’s efficacy rather than just having two “positive” studies, or changing the standards of what qualifies as “efficacious” to be more specific and more demanding than a 10% improvement over placebo. And how about setting a standard of maximum morbidity allowable before a drug is pulled from the market, graded based on the seriousness of the disease involved (if you’re going to die of cancer, you might be willing to take a few risks, but if your kid’s not completing his homework, a risk of psychosis or death might be a lot to be willing to assume).

    We could also hold doctors accountable for failure to provide real informed consent, including failure to inform of alternatives. We could engage in media campaigns, if we could get the funding. There are a lot of things that could be done, but most require money and/or legislative or judicial support. I think the problem is that so many people have their snoots in this particular trough, the challenges in funding and political support are severe.

    Maybe we start by campaigning to eliminate corporate personhood status for our legislators so that the Pharma folks can’t buy them off in the first place…

    —- Steve

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