The pharmacoepidemiology of antipsychotic medications for Canadian children and adolescents: 2005-2009

J Child Adolesc Psychopharmacol. 2011 Dec;21(6):537-43. doi: 10.1089/cap.2010.0145. Epub 2011 Dec 2.


Objective: To describe the frequency and trends of use of antipsychotics in Canadian children and adolescents from 2005 to 2009.

Methods: We performed analyses on the IMS Brogan databases on drug recommendation (prescribed drug) frequency, reasons for recommendations (therapeutic indication), and duration of use of antipsychotics, psychostimulants, and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) for Canadian children between 2005 and 2009. Changes in the number of and reasons for drug recommendations over the 5-year period are highlighted by using descriptive statistics.

Results: Antipsychotic drug recommendations by all specialists for children increased by 114% from 2005 to 2009. In contrast, psychostimulant and SSRI drug recommendations increased by 36% and 44%, respectively. The majority of antipsychotic drug recommendations were for second-generation antipsychotics (SGAs). Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) was the most common therapeutic indication associated with an SGA recommendation. Antipsychotic drug recommendations for children with ADHD more than tripled between 2005 and 2009. The average duration of antipsychotic use in children varied by drug and age group. For risperidone, median duration of use was 90 days in children aged 1-6, 180 days in children aged 7-12, and 200 days in children aged 13-18.

Conclusion: The use of antipsychotics in Canadian children greatly increased from 2005 to 2009. Comparison of antipsychotic data with psychostimulant and SSRI data shows that there has been a disproportionate increase in antipsychotic use over this interval, despite the lack of approval for pediatric use by Health Canada. Postmarketing surveillance activities of antipsychotic use in children appear appropriate.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Databases, Factual / statistics & numerical data
  • Drug Utilization / statistics & numerical data
  • Drug Utilization / trends
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Mental Disorders / drug therapy*
  • Pharmacoepidemiology
  • Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors / therapeutic use


  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Central Nervous System Stimulants
  • Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors