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Australian doctors prescribing antipsychotic drugs at alarming rate: experts

Xinhua,December 27, 2017 Adjust font size:

CANBERRA, Dec. 27 (Xinhua) -- Australians are being prescribed antipsychotic drugs at an alarming rate, according to field experts who say more needs to be done to help sufferers before they are prescribed medication.

According to the Australians Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), prescriptions for antipsychotic drugs, which are used to treat symptoms of disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar, have increased by 359 percent since 1992, when the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) was introduced.

But according to some industry experts, such as Dr Niall McLaren, the drugs are being used too liberally, and should be used as a last resort only after other treatments fail.

"We know that Australia uses antipsychotics at an extremely high rate by international standards," said Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) radio on Wednesday.

"The overuse of antipsychotics is a major problem in this country, it will be a bigger problem because these drugs have long-term side effects.

"People that take it in the long term, will die 19 years younger than un-drugged peers."

Professor Ian Hickie from the National Mental Health Commission echoed McLaren's sentiments, and said there was much more medical experts could do before prescribing drugs, such as referring patients to psychiatric help. Enditem