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Protecting Children In Foster Homes

The House in Oregon unanimously passed a bill on the medicating of foster children. The bill, House Bill 3114, is expected to go on and pass in the Senate as well. This bill, when it becomes law, will allow for more oversight of foster children on psychiatric drugs.

Children in state foster care — even kids younger than 4 — are being prescribed powerful antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs.

Oregon, like other states, has a big need for such legislation.

A November 2007 investigation by The Oregonian found children in foster care were prescribed psychiatric medications at four times the rate of other children covered by Medicaid. The newspaper also found that state laws and rules governing the use of psychiatric medications by kids in foster care were often ignored, and that hundreds of children were taking several prescription drugs with little or no state scrutiny.

More recent numbers show 1,461 children, about 20 percent of the kids in foster care last October, were prescribed at least one psychiatric drug. Those drugs include Ritalin, prescribed for attention-deficit disorder, as well as antidepressants such as Prozac and Zoloft.

5 out of 6 children in Oregon placed in Foster care, the above mentioned study showed, did not receive a mental health assessment within 60 days as required by law.

With the recent death of Gabriel Myers in Florida, a 7 year old boy who committed suicide, the need for more legislation by other states to protect children in foster care has become glaringly obvious.

The bill would also require an annual review of the child’s medication when the child is on more than 2 drugs or when the child is under the age of 6 years.

Being a former foster child myself I have seen this problem first hand. I will say some kids need the meds but most don’t. A lot of foster parents like the kids to be drugged so they are easier to deal with. There are the few exceptions where there are great foster parents out there that make the kids their own family but it is rare. I hope they get the system fixed one of these days so the kid’s don’t suffer.

Commented Missy Sauce (not her real name), a former foster child.

My fear is that perhaps this bill doesn’t go far enough towards protecting Oregon’s children.

“There’s an incredible increase of awareness,” Kelley-Siel said.

For example, agency rules encourage second medical opinions in cases where the children are younger than 6 or where kids are taking several psychiatric drugs at once.

Oregon House passes bill on foster kids’ medication
by Michelle Cole, The Oregonian
Wednesday June 17, 2009, 7:49 PM
http://www.oregonlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2009/06/oregon_house_passes_bill_on_fo.html

Second opinions are required by law in Florida for foster children under 6.

Acting more quixotically than the Oregon House, an FDA panel voted for approval of 2 of the 3 drugs it was evaluating for use on children. 1 of the 2 drugs, the advisory committee suggested, should have only limited use, while the committee deadlocked regarding a 3rd.

BOSTON (MarketWatch) — An advisory panel of the Food and Drug Administration recommended late Wednesday that two leading antipsychotic medications, AstraZeneca PLC’s /quotes/comstock/13*!azn/quotes/nls/azn (AZN 44.68, +0.82, +1.87%) Seroquel and Eli Lilly & Co.s’ /quotes/comstock/13*!lly/quotes/nls/lly (LLY 33.71, -0.14, -0.41%) Zyprexa be approved for use in teenagers and certain children suffering from biopolar disorder or schizophrenia. The panel also advised that Zyprexa only be prescribed to patients who have failed to adequately respond to other medications because it has been associated with unhealthy weight gain in some users, according to The Wall Street Journal. The panel was split on whether to recommend the agency approve Pfizer Inc.’s /quotes/comstock/13*!pfe/quotes/nls/pfe (PFE 15.00, +0.08, +0.54%) Geodon for pediatric patients. All three drugs are currently approved for adult use. While the FDA is not bound to the decisions of its advisory panels, it generally follows them.

By Val Brickates Kennedy
MARKET PULSE
Jun 11, 2009, 9:36 a.m. EST
FDA panel recommends psych drugs for teens
MarketWatch
http://www.marketwatch.com/story/fda-panel-recommends-psych-drugs-for-teens

Obviously, given these conclusions, members of that FDA panel have financial ties to the drug companies. You can expect more health problems to develop in our children as a consequence of being prescribed these drugs.

Advising on Zyprexa use is, of course, nothing like real oversight, or anything that has teeth. Here, in a nutshell, is yet another reason why states must enact legislation to protect children in foster care.