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GAO: Foster Children Prescribed Psych Drugs At Alarming Rates

December 5, 2011 by  

GAO: Foster Children Prescribed Psych Drugs At Alarming Rates

The Federal government is failing to protect children in foster care from the devastating effects of potent, psychiatric medications that alter the mind, according to a new report.

A report filed in the Government Accountability Office (GAO) says that thousands of foster children across the Nation are being prescribed powerful psychiatric medications at doses that exceed the maximum levels approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Within that number there is a subgroup that’s taking five or more psychiatric drugs simultaneously despite potential safety issues. Some of the drugs are not even approved for psychiatric use by the FDA.

The report’s findings are the result of a two-year probe featuring five States: Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon and Texas. Of the approximately 100,000 foster kids studied, investigators found that about one-third were prescribed at least one psychiatric drug.

The States spent more than $375 million for prescriptions provided through fee-for-service programs to foster and non-foster children. The report says that while the high cost does not necessarily show that doctors prescribe the drugs inappropriately for financial gain, there is no evidence that it was safe to take five or more psychiatric drugs in adults or children; yet hundreds of both foster and non-foster children were prescribed such a medication regimen.

Sam Rolley

Staff writer Sam Rolley began a career in journalism working for a small town newspaper while seeking a B.A. in English. After learning about many of the biases present in most modern newsrooms, Rolley became determined to find a position in journalism that would allow him to combat the unsavory image that the news industry has gained. He is dedicated to seeking the truth and exposing the lies disseminated by the mainstream media at the behest of their corporate masters, special interest groups and information gatekeepers.

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  • Karolyn

    There was a piece on this on ABC News. This is disgusting. There was a 7 year old who hung himself in the bathroom with the metal shower cord. He had been prescribed the medication by a doctor who only saw him for 5 minutes. The side affects of the medication did include suicide. A reporter approached the doctor who spoke while rushing into his office and said that it was not unusual to see a patient for only 5 minutes. Also, some of the drugs were being used for off-label purposes. It is really sick! I know so many people who had to fight their kids’ schools to keep them off ADHD medication. Starting kids on drugs at an early age is a prescription for drug abuse later.

  • s c

    If the GAO is right, then we have another failure of the FDA and America’s MDs. I don’t expect Uncle Scam to care about this issue, so probably the best way to handle it is to let health experts from every state step in and compensate for another FAILURE of galloping FEDERALISM.
    Could it be so simple a matter that the FDA can’t distinguish between a child and someone in a retirement home? If this isn’t a matter of easy money for prescription-happy MDs, then it falls on the FDA, folks. Hopefully, the death of a child is something that Uncle Scam tries to avoid. At times, it’s impossible to give the old drug pimp the benefit of the doubt.

  • http://deleted Claire

    Think about this–look what these poor children have gone through. Being bounced from one foster home to another. And some of these foster homes are not good homes. Look at the molestations, etc. that happen. And doctors will prescribe meds at the drop of a hat and some foster parents go along with it. They think these meds are the answer to everything. Keep the kids drugged so they are “quiet” and won’t be too much of a “bother.” This is the name of the game. The people that “foster” children get paid for it, and a lot of these people do it for the money. This entire system needs a good overhaul but it will never happen because the people “in charge” are not doing their jobs, and these defenseless kids will continue to fall through the cracks.

    • Karolyn

      Claire – Here in SC new edicts came down this year ordering social workers to exhaust every effort to find placement with family rather than foster homes. These days foster homes are the last resort here. The DSS here was contracted out this year to shape it up and save money.


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