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The following are summaries of the most important research being done in child and adolescent psychopharmacology in the past year.
April: New data evaluates prescribing patterns in children and adolescents:
Two studies (Duffy et. al and dosReis et. al) and an accompanying editorial (J. Zito) examine concomitant pharmacotherapy and find that one in three patients get more than one drug at a time; that funding sources and demographics appear not to be a factor; and that evidence of safety/efficacy is lacking. According to Benedetto Vitiello, M.D. of the NIMH, "Polypharmacy seems to be more prevalent than suspected and can now be considered 'common practice' in the community, in spite of little empirical evidence of efficacy and safety from well-designed studies." He is concerned about the gap between clinical practice and research, although he acknowledges that even the most effective medications often work only 60%-70% of the time. [J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol 2005; 15(1).]
May: Stimulants safe for children with ADHD, experts ponder long-term effects:
Two U.K. researchers, Kevin Fone and David J. Nutt, review the literature to determine whether long-term psychostimulant administration to adolescents alters neural development and behavior or increases the risk of substance abuse. Few studies of long-term effects or benefits of methylphenidate have been done, and the researchers cite a need to better understand these issues, considering the increase in numbers of children prescribed these drugs. According to Timothy Wilens, M.D., director of substance abuse in pediatric psychopharmacology at Mass. General Hospital, "The updated aggregate literature of almost 10 studies continues …