Psychotropic Medication Use and Polypharmacy in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders:

On November 19, 2013,. Jarrett Barnhill, MD, presented on MH-ID: Misuse of Psychotropic Medications to the IDD-PIC (Click here for a copy of the PowerPoint presentation).  We recently came across this article published by Spencer and her colleagues in the October 2013 issue of Pediatrics and are sending out the results of this study as a follow up.  Spencer and her colleagues reported on a study in which they examined rates and predictors of psychotropic medication use and multiclass polypharmacy in over 33,500 commercially insured children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). They found the following:

  • 38% of the children took antidepressants and ADHD medications
  • 28% took antipsychotics and ADHD medications
  • 20% took antipsychotics and antidepressants
  • 18% took antipsychotics, antidepressants, and ADHD medications

The researchers noted that the number of prescriptions per child increased with age–33% of children age 10 and younger and 60% of older children took more than one medication. The likelihood of psychotropic use and/or polypharmacy was highest among older children, those who had a psychiatrist visit, and those with evidence of co-occurring conditions. The researchers said the results indicate the need to develop standards of care around the prescription of psychotropic medications to children with ASD.  For a copy of Spencer’s article, Psychotropic Medication Use and Polypharmacy in Children With Autism Spectrum Disorders, please click here.

Financing Long-term Services and Supports for Individuals with Disabilities and Older Adults:

In June 2013, the Forum on Aging, Disability, and Independence of the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council hosted a workshop on Financing Long-term Services and Supports for Individuals with Disabilities and Older Adults. Participants examined the financing of long-term services and supports for working-age individuals with disabilities and among individuals who are developing disabilities as they age. The National Academies Press recently released the workshop proceedings, which may be downloaded for free by clicking here.