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Tijdschrift voor Psychiatrie 59 (2017) 6, 329 - 338

New research

Trends in antipsychotics use by Belgian children and adolescents between 2005 and 2014

E. Deboosere, J. Steyaert, M. Danckaerts

background Antipsychotics are frequently prescribed for a wide range of psychiatric and non-psychiatric indications. Over the last few years there has been a marked increase in the use of antipsychotics, in European and non-European countries. The use has also increased in children.
aim To assess trends in the sales of antipsychotics for Belgian children and adolescents (7 to 17 years old) between 2005 and 2014.
method We used data supplied by Farmanet, the official Belgian organisation responsible for collecting information about the prescription behaviour of doctors in Belgium.
results Between 2005 and 2014 there was a 53% increase in the number of prescriptions for antipsychotics issued by doctors in Belgium. This period also saw a 75.5% increase in the number of prescriptions for antipsychotics issued for the treatment of children and adolescents. There was a particularly large increase in the number of prescriptions for aripiprazole, the increase being only very slightly compensated by a simultaneous decrease in the number of prescriptions issued for other antipsychotics. In 2014, 21 different antipsychotics were prescribed for children, the majority of these prescriptions being for risperidone and aripiprazole. A large proportion of antipsychotics are used off-label. In exceptional cases, antipsychotics were prescribed for children under the age of six, and even for children younger than two.
conclusion Between 2005 and 2014 there was an increase in the number of prescriptions for antipsychotics issued for children and adolescents in Belgium. During that period of time there was a similar increase in the use of antipsychotics by children and adolescents in other European and non-European countries. It is not clear whether these increases are justified.

keywords antipsychotics, Belgium, children, adolescents