The evidence-based choice for antipsychotics in children and adolescents should be guaranteed

Daria Putignano, Antonio Clavenna, Laura Reale, Maurizio Bonati

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


PURPOSE: Drug use in the pediatric population still often features off-label prescriptions, particularly for psychotropic drugs. We reviewed the registration status, scientific evidence, and recommendations from the guidelines for antipsychotics used for psychiatric disorders in children.

METHODS: Antipsychotic drugs marketed in Italy, the United Kingdom (UK) and United States (US) were identified with the ATC Classification System. The licensing status and Summary of Product Characteristics (SPC) were taken from the national formularies. We analyzed reviews and guidelines on antipsychotics use in children and adolescents in the MEDLINE, EMBASE, and PsycINFO databases.

RESULTS: Out of 67 drugs, 19 were marketed with a pediatric license in at least one country: three in all the selected countries, and only paliperidone with the same indications. Haloperidol was the only antipsychotic authorized for autism in Italy and the UK, and as well as risperidone and aripiprazole in the US. Aripiprazole and paliperidone were licensed in all three countries for schizophrenia. Aripiprazole was licensed for bipolar disorders in all three countries. Haloperidol was licensed for Tourette syndrome in Italy and the UK, and pimozide and aripiprazole in the US. We retrieved 21 pertinent reviews and 13 guidelines for the management of neuropsychiatric disorders in pediatrics. There was a complete overlap between the authorized therapeutic indications and the available scientific evidence for autism in the US, for conduct disorders and bipolar disorders in the UK, and for Tourette syndrome and tics in the UK and Italy.

CONCLUSIONS: These results highlight the different regulatory processes that deny to many children and adolescents the most appropriate and rational antipsychotic therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)769-776
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Pharmacology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019


  • Adolescent
  • Antipsychotic Agents/therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Humans
  • Legislation, Drug


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