Posted by


 Click here: Miami Herald: Advocates alarmed by drugs used for kids

  Published Monday, May 7, 2001
  Advocates alarmed by drugs used for kids
  Medicaid children under 6 at issue
  Almost 600 Florida Medicaid recipients under age 6 were given powerful
  psychiatric drugs last year with potentially serious side effects -- drugs
  marketed to combat an illness that experts say is virtually nonexistent among
  children their age.
  The drugs -- including Clozaril, Zyprexa, and Risperdal -- are marketed for
  the treatment of schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders in adults, but
  in recent weeks, children's advocates throughout Florida have expressed
  concerns the medications are being used to control the behavior of unruly
  children, especially those in state care.

[Fred A. Baughman Jr., MD:
It is behavior control, not
treatment. In that no psychiatric diagnosis represents a disease, with disease
= abnormality, there is nothing to make more nearly normal or normal--nothing
deserving the name treatment. Further these are dangerous, brain altering,
brain damaging drugs, this much is for sure. This being the case there cannot
possibly be a justifiable risk/benefit calculation, i.e., the children stand
only to be injured or killed; net benefit is not a possiblity, therefore use of
these drugs is not justifiable in the first place. When children who are normal
are knowingly given drugs that can only damage or kill them, the only
appropriate definition of what is being done to them is 'poisoning.']

  "I'm starting to get scared here,'' said Jack Levine, president of the
  Tallahassee-based Center for Florida's Children.

[Fred A. Baughman Jr., MD:
none of these drugs have
been proven 'safe' or 'effective' in children in this age group, this is why no
psychiatrist/physician prescribing such medication can represent the
risk/benefit calculation as more likely to benefit than injure or kill them]

  Records from the state Agency for Health Care Administration obtained
  recently by The Herald show that nearly 400 of the children given
  antipsychotic drugs last year were under age 5.

[Fred A. Baughman Jr., MD:
these are normal
pre-schoolers given psychiatric labels for purposes of making them
clients/patients, then drugging them in the guise of 'treatment' and billing the
federal/state Medicaid system for 'services rendered.' This make the government
an accomplice in the poisoning [there is no other designation] of these
children, all from a government program, and, as such, more likely to be
targeted, victimized. Further, welfare families can less well resist government
entreaties that they allow their children to be ‘diagnosed’ and ‘treated.’]

  All were recipients of Medicaid, the federally funded insurance plan for
  needy children and adults. Florida's Medicaid office, which is administered
  by the healthcare agency, keeps detailed records on billing and reimbursement
  of medications for the needy, but has no direct oversight of doctors who
  provide care.
  The Agency for Health Care Administration, which regulates doctors and other
  healthcare providers, could take action against a physician found to be

[Fred A. Baughman Jr., MD:
I would regard any physician who would prescribe such drugs for
such children to be guilty of willful child endangerment and of malpractice]

  "We make some basic assumptions about children who need medical care,
  assumptions about services that are supported by tax dollars, and especially
  about children who are in the care of state agencies,'' Levine said.
  "An assumption I thought we made was that their care would never be
  appreciably different, in terms of medical carefulness and appropriateness of
  prescriptions, than everyone else's children. I'm starting to feel there is a
  remarkable difference in how these children are being looked at, diagnosed
  and treated.''
  The health care administration's records do not specify which of the children
  are in state care.
  The drugs could have been prescribed by family doctors, or doctors under
  contract with agencies that treat children in state care.
  While child psychiatrists say there are legitimate uses for the drugs in
  treating some more common disorders such as attention deficit-hyperactivity
  disorder and pervasive developmental disorder, a form of autism, children's
  advocates were startled that so many children are being administered them.
  Last month, The Herald reported claims by children's advocates that
  hard-to-manage children in Florida's troubled foster care system were being
  routinely given powerful psychiatric drugs as "chemical restraints.''
  The state Department of Children & Families, which administers the state's
  children protection and foster care efforts, has insisted that officials do
  not encourage -- and, indeed, will not tolerate -- the use of drugs as a
  means to restrain unmanageable children.
  Last week, the federally funded Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities
  urged the department to immediately halt all new prescriptions of the drug
  Risperdal, as well as other anti-psychotic drugs. Risperdal, widely
  prescribed among children, is the most commonly used among newer
  The group also urged child welfare officials to begin an "immediate'' and
  independent investigation into the use of psychiatric drugs among foster
  Pat Wear, the Advocacy Center's deputy director, said revelations about
  foster children being chemically restrained have left him "broken-hearted.''
  "Just when you think you've heard all the bad news you can hear, you hear
  this,'' he said of the large number of very small children being administered
  psychotropic drugs.
  The Department of Children & Families acted quickly. The agency has appointed
  two high-ranking department doctors to oversee an evaluation of children in
  state care who are taking the drugs. In Broward, where many of the complaints
  first arose, a child welfare manager is preparing a spreadsheet listing every
  child in care, and what drugs they are taking.
  Only about 1 in 40,000 people experience childhood onset of schizophrenia, a
  debilitating disorder often marked by hallucinations, delusions, paranoia and
  other forms of psychosis, said a spokesman for the National Institute for
  Mental Health. In contrast, the disorder affects about 1 percent of adults,
  with onset generally occurring between age 16 and 30.
  Judith L. Rapoport, who is the chief of child psychiatry at NIMH, described
  childhood onset of schizophrenia as very rare.
  "No one knows exactly'' how rare, she said, because researchers can't find
  enough subjects to perform an epidemiology study.
  Nonetheless, Rapoport estimates that one child is diagnosed with the disorder
  for every 300 adults who were diagnosed. As for children below age 7, "they
  may exist,'' Rapoport said, "we just haven't seen any.''
  "When you look at very young children, we haven't found a convincing case
  for schizophrenia where it started before the age of 7,'' she added.
  So-called atypical antipsychotic drugs, such as Risperdal, are marketed to
  combat the psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia, and most have not been
  specifically approved for use with children -- though it's not unusual for
  drugs to be administered for an "off-label'' use.
  According to the Agency for Health Care Administration, 389 children under
  age 5 who receive Medicaid were administered antipsychotics in 2000. Another
  200 or so 5-year-olds were given the drugs, as well.
  Among the toddlers, 46 2-year-olds were prescribed anti-psychotics, as well
  as 67 3-year-olds.

[Fred A. Baughman Jr., MD:
this is absolutely unconscionable, unquestionably
warranting criminal charges. Billing for such activity as 'medical treatment'
ought be viewed as fraud. A label is applied, never representing a bona fide
disease, but becoming, none the less an illusion of a disease, and slim
justification to 'treat'. ]

  Among the 4-year-olds, 177 children were medicated with the drugs in 2000,
  the agency's records show. Records with the health care agency are unclear
  for about 59 of the children.
  Jerry Wells, pharmacy program manager for the Agency for Health Care
  Administration, said Children & Families officials also requested detailed
  data from his agency after an April story in The Herald.
  "They were kind of shocked at some of the kids on these drugs,'' Wells said
  of the DCF officials.
  The drugs have been linked to potentially dangerous side effects.
  According to records reviewed by The Herald, as well as several interviews,
  children in foster care administered antipsychotics have experienced
  lethargy, agitation, tremors and even the development of unusually large
  breasts. One boy even began to produce breast milk.
  "You are talking about some very young children,'' said Mary Giliberti, a
  senior staff attorney at the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law in
  Washington, an advocacy group for people with mental illness, and foster
  children. "I'm the mom of a 2-year-old, and I find this very startling and
  disturbing information.''
  "These are very powerful drugs,'' Giliberti said. "This merits the state
  taking serious, immediate action.''

  Copyright 2001 Miami Herald

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)