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Government Needs To Improve Oversight of Psychiatric Drugging of Vulnerable Populations

Federal lawmakers received two major reports last week on the troubling lack of oversight at the federal level of the prescribing of psychiatric drugs to two of our nation’s most vulnerable populations:  foster children and the elderly in care facilities.

A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the massive psychiatric drugging of foster children recommended that federal health officials do more to monitor how state agencies oversee Medicaid doctors’ prescribing of powerful, mind-altering drugs to children who end up in the state’s care after being abused, neglected or abandoned.

Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., requested the GAO investigation after receiving numerous complaints about the quantity of drugs being prescribed and the adverse effects of the drugs experienced by foster kids.

The GAO recommended that the US Department of Health and Human Services  come up with guidance for states on how to oversee the prescribing of psychiatric drugs for foster children.

In a separate investigation, government inspectors called on Medicare officials to do more to stop doctors from prescribing powerful psychiatric drugs for the elderly living in care facilities.

In particular, antipsychotics are given to hundreds of thousands of elderly nursing home patients to sedate them and make them more manageable.

But the drugs carry an increased risk of death for seniors, which led the FDA to issue warnings against prescribing the drugs to the elderly.

Despite repeated government warnings, the unapproved practice has continued.

The HHS Inspector General told the Senate Committee on Aging that Medicare should begin penalizing nursing homes that overdrug with antipsychotics .  Medicare could force nursing homes to pay for drugs that are prescribed wrongly and bar the facilities from the Medicare program.

If you know a foster child or nursing home patient who has been harmed by psychiatric drugs, we want to talk to you. You can contact us privately by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225. All information will be kept in the strictest confidence. We welcome your comments on this article below.

Categories
General News

ABC News Reports Shocking Use of Psychiatric Drugs With Foster Children

Citing the fact that foster children are given powerful, mind-altering psychiatric drugs at an alarming 13 times the rate of other children, ABC News rolled out a series of reports based on a year-long investigation into the use of these drugs – antidepressants, antipsychotics, psycho-stimulants and other psychotropic drugs – with American foster children.

The investigation found that these children, who have already been traumatized by abuse, neglect, and abandonment, were prescribed heavy-duty psychiatric drugs in shocking amounts, in combinations considered too risky even for adults, and for disorders they don’t have.  It found kids who have taken these drugs say they are in a kind of chemical prison.

In response to the shocking findings, ABC reporter Diane Sawyer asks:

“Is there something else we owe these kids who have already endured so much?”

The ABC News reports coincide with the release of a report by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO), which revealed foster kids are prescribed psychiatric drugs more often than non-foster kids and at higher doses – often at doses higher than the maximum levels approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).   The report also found a significant number of foster children were prescribed five or more psychiatric drugs at the same time despite no evidence supporting the use or safety of this number of psychiatric drugs taken simultaneously.

You can listen to the stories of these kids by clicking on the links to the ABC News reports here:

New Study Show US Government Fails to Oversee Treatment of Foster Children Prescribed Mind-Altering Drugs

Doctors Put Foster Children at Risk with Mind-Altering Drugs

Foster Kid Felt Like “Guinea Pig”

20/20:  Overmedication in Foster Care

If you know about a foster child who has been harmed by psychiatric drugs, we want to talk to you. You can contact us privately by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225. All information will be kept in the strictest confidence. We welcome your comments on this article below.

Categories
General News

GAO Study Details Massive Psychiatric Drugging Of Foster Children

A report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to be released tomorrow reveals that American foster children are drugged with powerful, mind-altering psychiatric drugs at many times the rate of non-foster children.

The GAO’s report, based on a two-year-long investigation, looked at five states — Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon and Texas.  Among the key findings:

  • Foster children were nearly five times more likely to be prescribed psychiatric drugs than non-foster children.
  • Overall, nearly one-third of the foster children in the five states under investigation were prescribed at least one psychiatric drug.  (Other studies have shown that as many as half of foster kids in other areas are on psychiatric drugs.)
  • Thousands of foster children were being prescribed psychiatric drugs at doses higher than the maximum levels approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in these five states alone, and hundreds received five or more psychiatric drugs at the same time despite absolutely no evidence supporting the simultaneous use or safety of this number of psychiatric drugs taken together.
  • Foster children were more than nine times more likely than non-foster children to be prescribed drugs for which there was no FDA-recommended dose for their age.
  •  Foster children less than 1 year old were twice as likely to be prescribed a psychiatric drug as non-foster 1-year-olds.

When U.S. Senator Thomas Carper, D-Delaware, lead requestor of the GAO report, first learned of the report’s findings, he said:

“I was almost despondent to believe that the kids under the age of one, babies under the age of one were receiving this kind of medication.”

Carper requested the study after receiving numerous reports of waste and abuse in the prescribing of psychiatric drugs to foster children.

Taxpayers foot much of the bill.  Medicaid spends more than $6 billion per year on psychiatric drugs, or nearly 30 percent of its entire drug budget, more than double what was spent in 1999, according to the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services.

The report has already raised calls for states to report pharmacy claims of the psychiatric drugs given to foster children for more transparency on the issue.

ABC News was given advance access to the GAO report.  The ABC report can be accessed by clicking here.

If you know about a foster child who has been harmed by psychiatric drugs, we want to talk to you. You can contact us privately by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225. All information will be kept in the strictest confidence. We welcome your comments on this article below.