Sound Off on Psych MedsAdvocating for prudent medication use

Medicaid’s cost for ADHD drugs rose dramatically in the past decade, mostly driven by off-label use of antipsychotics for ADHD in youth.

This study examined ten-year (1996 and 2005) trends in medication use in 107,486 children (3 to 17 years old) diagnosed with ADHD in a Florida Medicaid. The percentage of children with ADHD who were treated with ADHD drugs increased from 60% to 63%, and the percentage taking antipsychotics more than doubled, from 8% to 18%.

From the source:

“In the past two decades, the psychopharmacological landscape for children has evolved. Because both neurological and metabolic side effects are more substantial in a pediatric population, expansion of the off-label use of antipsychotics among children with ADHD not only drives spending, but also raises concerns about possible overtreatment. The use of antipsychotics as a second-tier agent in treating ADHD has overtaken traditional agents such as antidepressants or alpha agonists, suggesting a need for research into the efficacy and side effects of second-generation antipsychotics among children with ADHD.”


ADHD [Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder], Stimulant medication, Antipsychotic medication, Off-label use of medication, Medicaid, Children’s mental health.


Fullerton CA, Epstein AM, Frank RG, Normand SL, Fu CX, McGuire TG. Medication use and spending trends among children with ADHD in Florida’s Medicaid program, 1996-2005. Psychiatr Serv. 2012;63(2):115-121.