Efforts to protect children in foster care from being inappropriately medicated with powerful antipsychotic drugs got a big boost forward on Tuesday, when California Gov. Jerry Brown signed three bills into law designed to reform prescribing.
By the time DeAngelo Cortijo was 14, he had been in more than a dozen foster homes. He had run away and lived on the streets for months, and he had been diagnosed with bipolar and anxiety disorders, attachment disorder, intermittent explosive disorder or posttraumatic stress disorder. He had been in and out of mental hospitals and heavily medicated.
Common and well-documented side effects of psychiatric drugs include mania, psychosis, hallucinations, depersonalization, suicidal ideation, heart attack, stroke and sudden death. And that is a very partial list of the side effects documented by international drug regulatory agencies the world over.
Representative Ron Paul (R., Texas) recently reintroduced legislation that would keep federal funding from being used to establish or implement any universal or mandatory mental health, psychiatric, or socio-emotional screening program without Parental Consent. Because of the generality of mental health tests, it’s easy for widespread screening to lead to mass labeling, drugging and life-long stigmatization.
In March 2009, the American Psychiatric Association announced that it would phase out pharmaceutical funding of continuing medical education seminars and meals at its conventions. However, the decision came only after years of controversial exposure of its conflict of interest with the pharmaceutical industry and the U.S. Senate Finance Committee requesting in July 2008 that the APA provide accounts for all of its pharmaceutical funding.
Screening is a very controversial so-called “diagnostic psychiatric service” (aka suicide survey) done on children who are then referred to psychiatric treatment. It’s a questionnaire that asks such things as “Have you often felt very nervous when you’ve had to do things in front of people?,” or “Has there been a time when nothing was fun for you and you just weren’t interested in anything?”
Antipsychotics are the top-selling class of drugs in the United States, with sales of $14.6 billion in 2009 alone. Their use in children and adolescents in the United States is increasingly prevalent — and children in foster care are among the most likely to be medicated.