The numbers suggest that the influence of pharmaceutical company marketing cannot be overlooked. Ninety-nine percent of youth receiving antipsychotic medications in the study were given atypical antipsychotics — the newer generation of these drugs, which are expensive and mostly unavailable in generic form and have been heavily advertised.
All of the major manufacturers of these drugs have been fined by the Food and Drug Administration for illegal marketing practices — in part, for marketing the drugs for unapproved use in children — with some convicted of criminal charges.
Eli Lilly, which manufactures the atypical antipsychotic Zyprexa, paid out $1.42 billion in 2009 — $615 million of that to settle criminal charges. The charges against Lilly involved selling Zyprexa to doctors for use in children, despite the fact that it was not approved for this age group.
Bristol Myers Squibb paid $515 million in 2007 to settle charges that it also illegally pushed its antipsychotic Abilify to child psychiatrists. Pfizer paid out $301 million in a similar case related to its drug Geodon. AstraZeneca paid out $520 million to settle charges over the drug Seroquel. In all of these cases, the drugs were sold for unapproved use in youth.
By MAIA SZALAVITZ