Label provisions spread

There is insufficient evidence that atypical antipsychotics are effective in treating eating disorders, substance abuse, and insomnia — medical conditions that these drugs were not approved to treat — according to a new Rand study.

Other off-label conditions do respond, though. Evidence supports the effectiveness of some atypical antipsychotics in reducing symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and behavioral symptoms in elderly patients with dementia, although significant side effects were noted.

“The use of atypical antipsychotic medications has spread rapidly beyond the illnesses they … were developed to treat,” says lead author Alicia Ruelaz Maher, MD, a psychiatrist and researcher at Rand. “While evidence suggests the drugs help reduce symptoms for some off-label illnesses, we found a lack of evidence for others.”

The findings are published in the September edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association.