Monday, February 4, 2008

Medicaid Drugs For Kids - New York Politician Wants Some Answers

Well it looks as if a domino effect is beginning - Florida is asking questions and now so is New York State - and it's about time. I'd be interested to know how many of these kids on anti-psych drugs have become more ill - or even committed suicide as a result of these "treatments".
February 4, 2008 -- A key New York state senator demanded yesterday that top health and mental-health officials explain why the Medicaid program has been paying for tens of thousands of children to receive psychiatric drugs that have not been FDA-approved for kids.

Thomas Morahan (R-Rockland), chairman of the senate's Committee on Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities, said he was stunned by a Sunday Post report that the state Medicaid program spent $82.8 million on powerful antipsychotics, anticonvulsants and antidepressants for children under 18 in 2006 - a sum up nearly $15 million since 2004.

Many of the drugs have potentially dangerous side effects and have not been adequately tested or approved as safe and effective for children.

"I have deep concerns for the well-being of all children in our state, whether they receive medication through Medicaid or through other means," Morahan said. "It is critical that state agencies be fully responsible and aware of the medical ramifications of psychiatric drugs."

Morahan called on the Health Department and the Office of Mental Health to issue a report by Feb. 25.

While the drugs - mostly approved for adults - can be effective in treating illnesses such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, autism and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder, experts fear they may be overprescribed or used to control common behavior problems.

The drugs have serious possible side effects, including diabetes caused by weight gain, Parkinson's-like movement disorders and breast growth in boys. Several of the drugs carry FDA "black box" warnings that the medication may cause youngsters to become suicidal.

Medicaid officials told The Post they pay claims for the drugs without requiring doctors or other prescribers to give a specific diagnosis Officials could not say what the kids were treated for.
Now, I am not disputing that these drugs do help some people, and that they have their place in medicine - but there is no reason in this world that this number of kids, including some as young as 2 years old and younger, should be put on these types of powerful medications. The fact that public money is being used to drug kids, and probably unnecessarily, is pretty horrendous. I'd also say that kids who are in state institutions are probably also being over-prescribed or mis-prescribed. It would appear that public programs and state institutions are virtual goldmines for Big Pharma.

I'd like to know what kind of statistical data is being collected by these drug companies and if they are using programs like Medicaid (i.e. poor children) to test their drugs on these youngsters.

So will your state be next to call for an investigation?


acceptancewithjoy said...

I guess I will be a voice of dissent. My daughter was exposed to meth, cocaine and alcohol during her fetal development, perhaps not the typical child with behavior problems you are concerned with. Seroquel, a mood stabilizer that is only now being tested on children, is the only thing we found that would control her rages. I suspect that if she wasn't medicated, she would be institutionalized by now. I love her dearly and I understand that some of her behavior results from a dysregulated brain... but I would not be able to keep her or our family safe if she was still raging. A rage in a child that is 40 pounds is one thing. A rage in a near adult who is big, strong and out of control is completely another.

I do suspect if she were institutionalized that she would be medicated more than she is now. Recently her psychiatrist wanted to increase her medication dose to control the anxiety Marissa feels when she sings on stage. I said no... a little stage fright is normal, encourages practice and improves performance.

Susan said...

It really seems like you're more in agreement than dissent. My concern and I think Judy's, as well, is that children and babes are being chemically restrained for purposes of convenience while 'in the system'. Little ones who have no or non-empowered loved ones.
I'd consider anything if I felt it helped my children. Sounds like you have and do, as well.
Judy points out the concern for testing drugs on our little ones. It's happened before and it turned my stomach. There was also an alternative New York City publication that wrote up an in-depth piece about this issue w/o leaving out very pertinent details as the NY Times did.
Liam Scheff revisits Incarnation House orphan HIV drug trials
The Times’ also ommitted any mention of the stomach surgery used on children who can’t or won’t take the drugs.