Atypical AntiPsychotic Drugs Causing As Many Fatal Heart Attacks as Typical Ones
Newer and widely used atypical antipsychotic drugs such as Risperdal, Seroquel, Zyprexa and Clozaril pose at least the same high risks for a fatal heart attack as typical drugs such as Haldol, according to a recently released study.
Researchers found that patients who took the atypical antipsychotic drugs had twice the number of cardiac arrests as those who did not take them.
Cardiac arrest was known to be among typical antipsychotic drug side effects, as similar results were found when testing them in the past, but the atypical ones were previously considered a safer alternative.
Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat bipolar disorders and schizophrenia, including in children and young adults, these commonly used atypical antipsychotic drugs are also now being prescribed for anxiety, depression and psychotic or obsessive behaviors, even in youths. They are also being used to treat dementia in older adults.
It is the use of these drugs in youths and seniors of upmost concern, as these groups of the population are more susceptible to the adverse reactions of antipsychotic drugs. However, anyone taking the drugs can be considered at risk for sudden cardiac arrest. Higher doses of the antipsychotic drugs increase heart attack risks as well.
Although doctors may use their own judgment in prescribing medications for uses other than those which the drug is approved for, by law drug makers and sellers cannot market the drugs for such use. They can only market it for the specific uses approved by the FDA.
Zyprexa manufacturer Eli Lilly recently admitted guilt in marketing its atypical antipsychotic drug for dementia and other uses not approved by the FDA. The company agreed to pay more than $1.4 billon in civil settlements and criminal fines for the illegal marketing.
Researchers hope these new findings that prove atypical antipsychotic drugs cause as much of a risk of fatal heart attacks as the typical ones did will encourage physicians to be more cautious when prescribing them.
Physicians should consider the risks of prescribing atypical antipsychotic drugs for conditions other than those approved and patients should more carefully weight the risks and benefits of using such risky drugs.
SOURCE: ASSOCIATED PRESS