This is really exciting news over all from the St. Petersburg Times:
Nudged by public pressure, Florida health officials took a baby step last year toward reining in the use of powerful antipsychotic drugs among children: They began requiring that doctors get approval before giving these drugs to kids under 6 on the Medicaid program.
That simple step prompted a seismic change in doctors’ prescribing habits.
The number of prescriptions of these potent drugs to kids in this age group plummeted nearly 75 percent.
Another dramatic change: Nearly 40 percent fewer doctors are even bothering to write prescriptions for these drugs — including Risperdal, Abilify, Seroquel and Zyprexa — apparently finding alternatives that require less paperwork.
David Cohen, a Florida International University professor who has long questioned the rampant use of the new generation of antipsychotics among kids, applauded the steep decline. He wonders why anyone prescribes these drugs.
“Viewing the increase over the past 10 years, I couldn’t imagine that many preschoolers needed the most powerful drugs available on the planet,” he said. “I think the change is great, but is it enough?”
The state’s review process has hardly been draconian, with approval going to nearly three out of four prescriptions submitted, mostly refills. But once Medicaid decided to take a closer look at the off-label prescribing of these drugs to preschoolers, about 200 physicians had this response: Never mind.
Unfortunately it’s not better education about the dangers of these drugs stopping the docs from prescribing it’s pure laziness. And I hope the kids are being given supportive alternative psycho/social and dietary help, but somehow I doubt it.
Also, unfortunately and tragically for children already addicted to the poisons it was not so good. This poor kid clearly suffered from severe withdrawals. While it’s great that many fewer children are being prescribed these drugs for the FIRST time, being denied them when one is dependent is downright dangerous and cruel and unusual punishment. Withdrawal must be done very slowly and with lots of support to be safe.
“It’s a terrible thing,” said Hubbard, who was approved for 31 prescriptions in 2008 after writing 101 in 2007. “My kids are suffering.”
Among them was 4-year-old Robert Bartlett, who had his Risperdal refill held up for a few weeks in December. Diagnosed as developmentally delayed, Robert had been taking the drug for about a year. Without medication, he started biting classmates and bouncing around the classroom during story time.
Cold-turkey withdrawal is never a pretty thing and I, again, doubt very much these kids and their parents are given viable alternatives even though there are many. Most often practicing psychiatrists don’t know anything about such things.