How America’s Overmedicating Low-Income and Foster Kids

http://www.governing.com/topics/health-human-services/gov-america-overmedicating-poverty.html

Kentucky is hardly alone in overprescribing psychotropics, a class of drugs that ranges from stimulants to antidepressants and antipsychotics. Between 1997 and 2006, American prescriptions for antipsychotics increased somewhere between sevenfold and twelvefold, according to a report by the University of Maryland…

“We’re medicating poverty.” …

Brenzel and others suspect that many of Kentucky’s prescriptions come from primary care physicians who haven’t performed comprehensive assessments to prove the drugs are appropriate.

Experts say the same thing about opioids. So why can PCPs prescribe anti-depressants and anti-psychotics to kids?  I would have thought only psychiatrists could prescribe that level of drug.

So he has been meeting regularly with University of Louisville pediatricians and the state’s privately run Medicaid organizations to develop a unified strategy to ensure that doctors prescribe psychotropics only when necessary…

To address the problem, they’re not going to stop primary care doctors from prescribing anti-psychotics and only allow psychiatrists to prescribe these drugs.  And yet for opioids, pain patients have to pay to see a “specialist.”

The depth of Kentucky’s problem really came into focus in 2012. A researcher at the University of Kentucky found that antipsychotic prescriptions for Medicaid children had increased 270 percent from 2000 to 2010, compared with 53 percent among adults…

There is no FDA approval for the use of antipsychotics for children…

Doctors complain that the FDA hasn’t approved marijuana as a medicine, yet they have no trouble with off-label prescribing of Big Pharma products, like anti-psychotics for kids.

In Connecticut, for instance, data emerged last year from a children’s mental health task force showing that the percentage of youths on Medicaid who had been prescribed antipsychotics had doubled just since 2008. The report also showed a threefold increase in amphetamine prescriptions and a fourfold increase in antidepressants. Some of the children receiving prescriptions were as young as 3 years old

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