Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Doping Kids And Your Tax Dollars Pays For It

Would it concern you to know that nearly one out of 100 teenage boys is on anti-psychotic medication and one out of 150 girls is on anti-psychotics? From the Wall Street Journal:

Medco found prevalence of kids taking antipsychotic drugs, once called major tranquilizers, roughly doubled, with about 1.2% of boys and 0.75% of girls taking them in 2006.

Widely used antipsychotic drugs -- including Risperdal, Zyprexa, Seroquel and Clozaril -- are approved for treating schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in adults, but not children.

Dr. Insel said the drugs often are prescribed for kids for disruptive behavior and other unapproved uses, particularly to children previously on antidepressants and ADHD drugs.

A federal survey of doctors' office practices estimated a sixfold jump from 1993 to 2002 in patients aged 20 or younger prescribed antipsychotic drugs, to 1.224 million. It found 38% of those prescriptions were for disruptive behavior such as ADHD, 32% were for mood disorders including depression, 17% were for developmental disorders such as mental retardation and autism, and 14% were for psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia.

Meanwhile, Medco found use of prescription sleeping pills nearly doubled, to about 0.3% of boys and 0.44% of girls.

"The fact that these kids have to get a prescription pill to go to sleep at night is amazing," said Dr. Robert Epstein, Medco's chief medical official, adding parents should try slowing kids down at night with curfews on caffeine and computer use, for example.

He said Medco's numbers reflect drug use among adolescents covered by private or government insurance, but in general children in the Medicaid program use more prescription medications and those with no insurance take significantly less.

So, 70% of teens taking an anti-psychotic do so because they feel sad or they act bad--not because the have a concrete diagnosis. And kids on sleeping pills? Are these doctors demanding that the kids knock off the Red Bulls, or just as likely, the Ritalin or other amphetamines so popular these days?

Now, for the Medicaid users. There are those who would say that the uninsured are under medicated--you know Risperdal deficiencies that are so prevalent these days, but it's funny how people who don't have insurance don't take the meds. I'm also curious about standard insurance med usage rates. Are Medicaid users, are poor people, more likely to be mentally ill or is the fall-back position of stressed parents and inflexible school bureaucracies, medication? Whether there is discrimination or whether human nature looks for the easy way out, these numbers are profoundly disturbing.


Kman said...

This doesn't surprise me at all.

I see a LOT of this by working in the Child Protective Services / Foster Care industry. For foster children you can know what medications they are on simply by looking at what medical studies are underway. Right now in Texas it is perfectly legal (and very common) to use foster children in medical research studies. Most of these studies are for anti psychotic drugs. The foster children are on medicaid so we (the taxpayers) pay the drug companies to do research studies on poor peoples kids (most kids are taken away for neglect IE being poor).

Some of these kids aren't even in school yet and they are on anti psychotics. They aren't even old enough to be diagnosed with what the anti psychotic is supposed to treat! It's sickening. The foster parents / placement agencies don't mind because it's effectively a chemical restraint which makes the children more "manageable". Oh did I mention that if the child is on anti psychotics the foster parents / placement agency gets significantly more money for them?

There was a bill introduced to the Texas Legislature this session to stop this practice but it looks like it's going to get killed by the pharmaceutical lobby.

Anonymous said...

"They keep running for the shelter
Of Mother's Little Helper;
And it speeds you on your way
To your busy dying day..."

Anonymous said...

These numbers are very disturbing. I also find "kman" facts very interesting.

MaxedOutMama said...

It disturbs me. Many anti-psychotics are very powerful; we do not know the effect on developing brains. I think we are replacing treatment with drugs in many cases.

When I was a kid, it was not rare to have children with behavior problems and excitable natures. Almost all of that was taken care of by working with the child in question. Both of my brothers were clinically hyperactive, for example. They didn't have problems in school but that was because my parents spent a lot of time helping them get themselves under control.

Kman's comments remind me of something I read about NY City that sounded similar. I'll have to see if I can find it. Basically they were using kids in state care as guinea pigs for medical trials.

Antoinette said...

I remember when my little boy was 2. Most of the time he was the sweetest natured child you could imagine, but then the terrible twoness came over him and he went berserk. But I knew that is how the 2s work and that it was a phase that would pass, with a great deal of patience. But if you didn't have any understanding of the basics of childhood or child development you might have been convinced he had some mental disorder. So many of the kids I know labeld ADHD just seem like normal kids to me, acting out when they are frustrated or bored. We drug kids because we have forgotten what being a child means.

By the way my son's terrible twoness only lasted about six months, once he figured out that tantrums were getting him nowhere he moved on to other strategies. He is a smart kid he quickly figured out a hug and a I wuv you momma could get him farther than a tantrum.