SPECIAL REPORTS ON THE USE OF PSYCHOTROPIC DRUGS AS "CHEMICAL PRISONS" OFTEN WITH MULTIPLE SIMULTANEOUS PRESCRIPTIONS ( 3 - 15+) FOR FOSTER KIDS IN STATE CARE."WHO ARE WE DOING THIS FOR THE KIDS OR TO GIVE THE CARERS AND THE STATE CONTROL?"
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PRESS RELEASE DEC 2ND 2011
By David Ford
Nov 30, 2011 4:30pm
ABC News Investigation: Diane Sawyer and Sharyn Alfonsi to Report on the Overmedication of Children in the U.S. Foster Care System
Reports to Air Beginning Wednesday, November 30 on “World News with Diane Sawyer” and Concluding with In Depth Reporting on “20/20″ Friday, December 2
“ABC World News” anchor Diane Sawyer continues her reporting on the United States foster care system with a new series of reports – “Generation Meds.” Following a year-long investigation, Sawyer and Sharyn Alfonsi uncover a startling reality: many foster children, even as young as one-year olds, are being prescribed powerful mind-altering drugs at alarming rates — up to 13 times higher than that of other children. As part of its investigation ABC News was given a first look at a groundbreaking two-year study by the General Accounting Office (GAO) which finds that the federal government has not done enough to protect America’s foster children from being over medicated with these powerful drugs. Reports will air on “World News with Diane Sawyer” beginning on Wednesday, November 30 and will conclude with a special report on “20/20″ Friday, December 2 at 10:00 PM on the ABC Television Network.
Viewers will hear from a number of foster children across the country – like 11-year-old Ke’onte from Texas, who after suffering a childhood filled with neglect was bounced between six foster homes and hospitals over just four years. Ke’onte was put on at least 12 psychiatric medications while in foster care, up to four at the same time. While experts acknowledge children in foster care may have more emotional and behavioral issues, they do not believe this alone justifies the magnitude of the overuse of psychiatric medications. “I was on a whole lot of medicines that I should have not been on,” Ke’onte told Sawyer. Diane Sawyer goes looking for answers – starting in the nation’s capitol asking federal agencies in charge: What is being done to protect these children?
Plus, Sharyn Alfonsi confronts the doctors and asks are they too quick to pick up the prescription pad when dealing with damaged kids in the foster system, including a Florida doctor who prescribed a cocktail of psychiatric medication to a troubled little boy who then took his own life.
And, Sawyer revisits Maryhurst, a unique residential treatment program for kids with the toughest childhoods and deepest traumas; 75 percent enter the facility on these powerful drugs – when they leave, nearly three quarters are on a reduced number of medications or none at all.
This is the third series of reports from Sawyer on the foster care system. Sawyer’s first report, “For the Sake of the Children,” aired on “Primetime” in 2002. “Calling All Angels,” a special “Primetime” report which aired in 2006, cast a light on many of the young, fractured lives in foster care across the country and the ways those children can be saved. The report was recognized with the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award.
Viewers who want to share their thoughts on the reports should use the twitter hash tag #FosterChange to join in the conversation
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.
GAO Study Details Massive Psychiatric Drugging Of Foster Children
Protecting Your Children: Colorado Lawa Protects Children From Teachers Pushing Psychiatric drugs.
|U.S. GOVERNMENT ADVISORY OFFICE|
GAO-12-270T December 1, 2011
Highlights Page (PDF) Full Report (PDF, 44 pages) Accessible Text Podcast
Foster children have often been removed from abusive or neglectful homes and tend to have more mental health conditions than other children. Treatment may include psychotropic drugs but their risks to children are not well understood. Medicaid, administered by states and overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), provides prescription drug coverage to foster children. This testimony examines (1) rates of psychotropic prescriptions for foster and nonfoster children in 2008 and (2) state oversight of psychotropic prescriptions for foster children through October 2011. GAO selected Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon, and Texas primarily based on their geographic diversity and size of the foster care population. Results cannot be generalized to other states. In addition, GAO analyzed Medicaid fee-for-service and foster care data from selected states for 2008, the most recent year of prescription data available at the start of the audit. Maryland's 2008 foster care data was unreliable. GAO also used expert child psychiatrists to provide a clinical perspective on its methodology and analysis, reviewed regulations and state policies, and interviewed federal and state officials.
Foster children in the five states GAO analyzed were prescribed psychotropic drugs at higher rates than nonfoster children in Medicaid during 2008, which according to research, experts consulted, and certain federal and state officials, could be due in part to foster children's greater mental health needs, greater exposure to traumatic experiences and the challenges of coordinating their medical care. However, prescriptions to foster children in these states were also more likely to have indicators of potential health risks. According to GAO's experts, no evidence supports the concomitant use of five or more psychotropic drugs in adults or children, yet hundreds of both foster and nonfoster children in the five states had such a drug regimen. Similarly, thousands of foster and nonfoster children were prescribed doses higher than the maximum levels cited in guidelines developed by Texas based on FDA-approved labels, which GAO's experts said increases the risk of adverse side effects and does not typically increase the efficacy of the drugs to any significant extent. Further, foster and nonfoster children under 1 year old were prescribed psychotropic drugs, which GAO's experts said have no established use for mental health conditions in infants; providing them these drugs could result in serious adverse effects. Selected states' monitoring programs for psychotropic drugs provided to foster children fall short of best principle guidelines published by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP). The guidelines, which states are not required to follow, cover four categories. (1) Consent: Each state has some practices consistent with AACAP consent guidelines, such as identifying caregivers empowered to give consent. (2) Oversight: Each state has procedures consistent with some but not all oversight guidelines, which include monitoring rates of prescriptions. (3) Consultation: Five states have implemented some but not all guidelines, which include providing consultations by child psychiatrists by request. (4) Information: Four states have created websites about psychotropic drugs for clinicians, foster parents, and other caregivers. This variation is expected because states set their own guidelines. HHS has not endorsed specific measures for state oversight of psychotropic prescriptions for foster children. HHS-endorsed guidance could help close gaps in oversight of psychotropic prescriptions and increase protections for these vulnerable children. In our draft report, GAO recommended that HHS consider endorsing guidance for states on best practices for overseeing psychotropic prescriptions for foster children. HHS agreed with our recommendation. Agency comments will be incorporated and addressed in a written report that will be issued in December 2011.