The pharmaceutical industry is pushing the use of atypical antipsychotic drugs like Seroquel, Zyprexa and Abilify on patients with no disabling mental illness more often than ever before.
The drugs are being prescribed by psychiatrists and primary-care doctors to treat conditions for which they were not intended, including anxiety, attention-deficit disorder, sleep difficulties, behavioral problems in toddlers and dementia. Until the past 10 years, the drugs were reserved for the approximately 3 percent of Americans with the most disabling mental illnesses, like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and very severe depression.
These days, according to a report by The Washington Post, the drugs are being prescribed for things they are not even approved to treat. Many critics say the trend boils down to money.
“Antipsychotics are overused, overpriced and oversold,” said Allen Frances, former chair of psychiatry at Duke University School of Medicine.
The medical professional said that the drugs, which are designed to calm patients and to moderate the hallucinations and delusions of psychosis, are being used “promiscuously, recklessly” despite the possibility of serious side effects.
Recent reports show that more than 20 percent of Americans are currently taking antipsychotics.
In another development in the growing prescription drug culture, researchers now claim that the heart disease drug Propranolol may be able to eliminate racist attitudes, according to The Telegraph.
Experimental psychologist Dr. Sylvia Terbeck, from Oxford University, who led the study published in the journal Psychopharmacology, said: “Our results offer new evidence about the processes in the brain that shape implicit racial bias. Implicit racial bias can occur even in people with a sincere belief in equality. Given the key role that such implicit attitudes appear to play in discrimination against other ethnic groups, and the widespread use of propranolol for medical purposes, our findings are also of considerable ethical interest.”