Florida’s prescription rate for antipsychotics to young children drops hugely

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.

About Monica Cassani

Author/Editor Beyond Meds: Everything Matters

7 Responses

  1. Sheesh. Drugging a 4-year-old for over a year with Risperdal. These doctors have no conscience.

    I’d love to see this rule/law extended to at least 16 years old… there are lots of things people can do to help these kids, and 50 years ago they wouldn’t even have dreamed of drugging them.

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  2. Gianna,

    Great news!
    It is a small step – but, a step in the right direction nontheless.
    In Austin this week, I learned that California has put a block on all Medicaid prescriptions for kids under five.

    There were those in the Public Health Committee of the House who brought this up, and of course the doctors were fit to be tied, with the mere mention of such “draconian” legislation….

    We have a bill that was introduced that would put some measures up to have state review – a pre-authorization process, and the pharma/psychiatry lobby is fighting it tooth-and-nail….

    But, I think we’re making progress…I certainly hope so.

    These drugs were all “researched” by men who should be in federal prison for the fraud they committed. These drugs should be illegal for kids, and any doctor who prescribes them should face jail time….

    We’ll get there – gonna do my part to make sure we get there.

    Call me a “radical”….been called worse.

    Duane

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  3. “It’s a terrible thing,” said Hubbard, who was approved for 31 prescriptions in 2008 after writing 101 in 2007. “My kids are suffering.”

    Well, ….. Dr Hubbard.

    Why, did you get those tykes Strung Out in the 1st place? And WHO is it to Blame now that they are suffering?

    Duane is absolutely right. Federal Prison, for each and every one of these Son Of a Biedermans.

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  4. Among them was 4-year-old Robert Bartlett, who had his Risperdal refill held up for a few weeks in December… Without medication, he started biting classmates and bouncing around the classroom during story time.

    To this, I am compelled to say that, Kids bite each other and bounce around…drugged, withdrawing or not. Kids do this. An unethical person seeking pocket change and control, might use this information to insist that this is “proof” that Robert “needs” to remain medicated.

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