New article in The Lancet highlights pharmacotherapy of children with mental disorders

2023-12-20

Learn from failed trials and reduce the placebo effects in studies, recommends the international group of experts that in the scientific journal The Lancet Psychiatry, outlines the future of pharmaceutical treatment of children and adolescents with mental disorders. "Our article responds to a tangible need in healthcare," states Åsa Konradsson Geuken, co-author and Associate Professor of Pharmacology.

Åsa Konradsson Geuken, the Faculty of Pharmacy
Åsa Konradsson Geuken, the Faculty of Pharmacy

The number of children and adolescents in Sweden who are treated with antidepressants is increasing rapidly. Last year, 33,000 children received one or more prescriptions, which is almost three times more than in our Scandinavian neighboring countries. Studies confirm that mental disorders among Sweden's children and adolescents is becoming increasingly common, but exactly why remains to be determined. In addition, we do not know for sure how these drugs will affect the children, and in a new article in scientific journal The Lancet, an international group of experts provides an overview of the current state of knowledge.

“Pharmacotherapy is an important asset in the toolbox of child and youth psychiatric care. Still, the fact that the number of Swedish children being treated with antidepressants has tripled in just 15 years places new demands on both research and clinic. This situation is not unique to our country, and we have now gathered a group of researchers that, from a European and interdisciplinary perspective, have analyzed where we are, which future path is the best and what it will take to move in the right direction,” says Åsa Konradsson Geuken, Associate Professor of Pharmacology at the Faculty of Pharmacy and co-author of the article.

Åsa Konradsson Geuken in the lecture hall
Åsa Konradsson Geuken in the lecture hall

The current article, Psychopharmacology in children and adolescents: unmet needs and opportunities, combines knowledge from research, clinic, the European Medicines Agency and a survey answered by 644 people in thirteen countries with personal experiences of mental disorders. In the material, the authors identify a number of key opportunities, among them learning from failed trials, reducing the placebo effect in studies, comparing pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments as well as improving the regulatory and legislative framework.

“This field undeniably faces challenges, but above all many and important opportunities. To take full advantage of them will require joint efforts from care, research, financiers and authorities, but also patients and their families. As a researcher, Chair of the Swedish Schizophrenia Association and a sibling of a brother with schizophrenia, I hope that child and youth psychiatrists worldwide will make use of the knowledge overview we present, and judging by the positive response and the many questions I am currently receiving from healthcare, it is obvious that our publication responds to a tangible need,” states Åsa Konradsson Geuken.

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CONTACT

Åsa Konradsson Geuken, Associate Professor
Department of Pharmaceutical Biosciences
Asa.Konradsson-Geuken@farmbio.uu.se

Text: Magnus Alsne, photo: Mikael Wallerstedt a o

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Last modified: 2024-04-04