Big Pharma: if you can’t treat ’em then drug ’em
Powerful mood-altering drugs were prescribed to hundreds of Illinois foster children without the required consent of state child welfare officials, a Chicago Tribune analysis of government data has found.
And increasing numbers of young wards were diagnosed with bipolar disorder and given a class of anti-psychotic medicines that some physicians consider risky for youths because they can cause such side effects as metabolic abnormalities and pronounced weight gain.
Psychiatrist Michael Naylor, MD, who reviews psychotropic medicine regimens for DCFS, said that he worries that “marketing efforts” by pharmaceutical companies are driving increasing diagnoses of bipolar disorder leading to more prescriptions for antipsychotic medicines, and that some “physicians are skirting the consent laws.”
A separate report by the University of Illinois at Chicago’s department of psychiatry finds that an Illinois psychiatric hospital used medications as chemical restraints on kids. Streamwood Behavioral Health Center, “one of Illinois’ largest psychiatric hospitals, dosed foster children with dangerous combinations of mood-altering” medications, “sometimes using the medicines as ‘chemical restraints’ to control youth who needed counseling.”
The report also found that the center, “which has treated roughly 475 Department of Children and Family Services wards since 2007, is ‘so understaffed as to be counter-therapeutic,'” and that “hospital staff resorted to extraordinarily high rates of emergency psychiatric medications, physical restraints, and seclusion.”