Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Quotes from Time Magazine about Overmedication of Foster Youth


Source: Szalavitz, Maia. Why Are So Many Foster Care Children Taking Antipsychotics?
Time Magazine, November 29, 2011.

  • "The influence of pharmaceutical company marketing cannot be overlooked. Ninety-nine percent of youth receiving anti-psychotic medications in the study were given atypical anti-psychotics — the newer generation of these drugs, which are expensive and mostly unavailable in generic form and have been heavily advertised.
  • "All of the major manufacturers of these drugs have been fined by the Food and Drug Administration for illegal marketing practices — in part, for marketing the drugs for unapproved use in children — with some convicted of criminal charges.
  • "The main condition that antipsychotics are approved to treat —schizophrenia — is extremely rare in children. The rate of schizophrenia in children under 12 is an estimated 2 cases per 1 million children; it affects fewer than 1% of older teens. Anti-psychotics are also approved to treat bipolar disorder, a diagnosis that is highly controversial in children. Some studies suggest that it affects 0.2% to 0.4 % of children, and up to 1% of adolescents.
  • And yet, between 1994 and 2003, rates of bipolar diagnoses in youth under 19 rose by a factor of more than 40, according to the National Institute on Mental Health. It seems unlikely to be a coincidence that this rise occurred during the period when atypical anti-psychotics were being illegally marketed for children."
  • "Indeed, most of the anti-psychotics used in foster-care youth were for conditions that the drugs were not approved to treat. Fifty-three percent of prescriptions were written for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a condition that is ordinarily managed with drugs that have the opposite pharmacological effects as anti-psychotics. The stimulant medications like Adderall and Ritalin, widely used for ADHD, tend to increase levels of dopamine, while anti-psychotics tend to decrease it."
"This study confirms the need for developmentally and trauma-informed practices in the vulnerable foster-care population," says Dr. Bruce Perry, founder of the ChildTrauma Academy. "Misunderstanding the pervasive effects of abuse and neglect leads to the mislabeling of behavioral and emotional symptoms in these children and then to overmedication."

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