Drugs for children? Prescriptions of anti-psychotics troubling

Daytona Beach News Journal

Editorial

Parents at their wits’ end, wearing long sleeves to hide bruises and bite marks inflicted by their own offspring. Psychiatrists struggling to cope with children as young as 2 who show intractable behavior problems. Drug companies ready to suggest powerful drugs that can produce marked changes in a child’s behavior — getting heavily involved in state-level determinations of which drugs should be prescribed for which conditions. And a state struggling to keep up with rapid changes that have pushed Medicaid costs for powerful anti-psychotic drugs from $9 million seven years ago to almost $30 million in 2006.

Something doesn’t add up. Do all these children need the drugs they’re being prescribed? Without a careful review of individual medical records, it’s difficult to say — but the trend is disturbing. Other states are already pushing hard for answers, and Florida should join in. The drugs in question are known as atypical anti-psychotics and include Risperdal, Abilify, Geodon and Seroquel. Originally intended to treat major mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar mania, they have become increasingly widely prescribed for children with autism and attention-deficit disorder with tics.

Yet, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved few of these drugs for use with children — especially in conjunction with many of the conditions for which the powerful drugs are prescribed. There’s little research on the effects of the drugs, and a growing number of reports suggest that the medication could be responsible for deaths or serious side effects, including tardive dyskenisa (involuntary jerking of the limbs and grimacing)…

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