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Texas Reduces “Off Label” Prescribing As A Result Of Youth Today Investigation

The Texas Youth Commission is reducing the amount of “off label” over-prescribing of neuroleptic drugs that goes on in detention centers throughout that state. This according to an article in the Star-Telegraph, TYC reduces use of anti-psychotic drugs.

[Scott] Fisher, a Bedford pastor, said the commission has worked over the past year to implement a system that focuses on matching drugs to need. Statistics show that since last year the commission has throttled back spending on the drugs.

This effort grew out of a recent national investigation by magazine Youth Today into Detention Center drugging.

Fisher spoke to the Star-Telegram about a recent investigation by Youth Today that uncovered extensive use of anti-psychotics with incarcerated juvenile offenders nationwide. Texas’ spending on the drugs was among the highest. Critics say the drugs have replaced leather straps as a way to keep youths under control. Supporters say the drugs reduce aggression and soothe, making youth “more malleable” to treatment, according to Youth Today.

“Off label” refers to the fraudulent and illegal practice of prescribing drugs for treatments other than those for which they have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration. The state of Texas apparently was a big offender in this area of “off label” drugging.

Texas showed the highest rate of giving atypicals to youths without indications of bipolar or schizophrenia, though Youth Today did not get responses from every state. About 29 percent of the juveniles taking atypicals were diagnosed with either of the disorders. Records for more than a quarter of the 3,924 prescriptions for the drugs did not indicate any condition, the publication reported.

Congratulations Texas! You are definitely doing the right thing. Let’s hope some other states get the idea and, following suit, do the right thing as well.

Judging by expenditures, the use of atypical drugs appears to be in decline. The youth commission spent $124,563 in September 2009, according to information that the commission provided to the Star-Telegram. By June of this year, the monthly cost had fallen to $53,832. Total Seroquel cases fell to 23 in September from 123 in January.

This is a definitely a step in a more positive direction. Now if only we could reduce the amount of “on label” prescribing that takes place in certain states throughout this country we’d really be getting somewhere.

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