Monday, January 4, 2010

Many antipsychotic users not getting needed tests

People who take newer drugs for Cand other psychotic conditions are supposed to have their blood sugar and cholesterol levels checked regularly but many don't, according to a study released today.

These so-called "second-generation" antipsychotic drugs, which include olanzapine (Zyprexa), risperidone (Risperdal) and aripiprazole (Abilify), were developed because older antipsychotics have significant side effects. However, the newer drugs are known to significantly increase blood sugar and cholesterol levels, raising the risk for diabetes and heart disease.

In a study, researchers found that less than one-third of low-income Medicaid patients who are treated with these drugs have their blood sugar and cholesterol levels checked.

And perhaps even more concerning, say the researchers, screening rates did not increase following government warnings and recommendations calling for increased blood sugar and cholesterol monitoring.

The findings are consistent with others from non-Medicaid populations, Dr. Elaine H. Morrato of the University of Colorado, Denver, who was involved in the study, told Reuters Health.

She has this advice: "If you are taking second-generation antipsychotic drugs, then you should be screened for diabetes and (high cholesterol and fats in the blood) and monitored for potential adverse drug effects. This is important so that you can receive appropriate preventive care and treatment."


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