Panel to review Medicaid guidelines for antipsychotic drugs

Daytona Beach News Journal
By M.C. MOEWE
Staff Writer

A panel named this month to discuss changing state guidelines on paying for antipsychotic drugs for children will meet for the first time June 25.

At stake is the future treatment of more than 18,000 children in Florida currently receiving atypical antipsychotics medication for conditions ranging from ADHD to bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

The number of children in the Florida Medicaid program prescribed the powerful drugs has nearly doubled from 9,364 kids in 2000 to 18,137 in 2006, the Daytona Beach News-Journal reported in January.

Among those children, the most common primary diagnosis was attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) — an ailment not approved for treatment with antipsychotics by the Food and Drug Administration or by experts on the disease.

Medicaid will pay for a drug only if it is “medically necessary and prescribed for medically accepted indications,” according to current state guidelines.

Former Florida Agency for Health Care Secretary Dr. Andrew Agwunobi created the review group in January. The panel’s 11 members were announced this month, and officials said their recommendations will be presented to the agency’s Pharmaceutical and Therapeutic Committee after the June 25 meeting.

Dr. Lisa Cosgrove, a Merritt Island pediatrician who is a member of the review group and committee, said she will rely on a state-funded study by the Medicaid Drug Therapy Management Program for Behavioral Health at the University of South Florida when making recommendations. “It’s a good baseline model to follow,” she said.

During that 2005 study, a panel of experts recommended that antipsychotics (some of these drugs include: Risperdal, Seroquel, Zyprex, Abilify and Geodon) should not be used primarily to target ADHD, nor should antipsychotics be given to children younger than age 6 except under the most extraordinary circumstances.

The review group’s meeting will be 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. June 25 via teleconference.

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