February 2013 Archives

Alarming Rate of Foster Children Given Psychiatric Medication

February 14, 2013,

According to an article in The New York Times, in 2003 researchers analyzed the Medicaid records of 637,924 minors who were either in foster care, receiving disability benefits for a diagnosis of severe autism or bipolar disorder, and some were also in a social services program known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The researchers found that 16,969, or about 3 percent of the total, had received at least one prescription for an antipsychotic drug.

The foster children were the ones who most often got more than one such prescription at the same time - 9.2%, versus 6.8% for children on disability and 2.5% for children in the TANF program.

A new study published in the journal Pediatrics reveals a concerning new trend for children in foster care and the regular prescription of antipsychotic drugs like Risperdal and Seroquel. These powerful drugs are commonly used in adults to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. According to a 2009 Times article, the side effects of a medication like Risperdal can be profound and include rapid weight gain, which can lead to other health problems like hypertension and diabetes, also very common in adults taking these same drugs.

There has been an approximate 4,000 percent increase in children being diagnosed with bipolar disorder and the use of antipsychotics since 1998, and many were being prescribed drugs, that in some cases had only been tested on adults.

Susan dosReis, an associate professor at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy and the lead author of the report, said "The kids in foster care may come from bad homes, but they do not have the sort of complex medical issues that those in the disabled population do."

The implication, Dr. dosReis and other experts said: Doctors are treating foster children's behavioral problems with the same powerful drugs given to people with schizophrenia and severe bipolar disorder. "We simply don't have evidence to support this kind of use, especially in young children," Dr. dosReis said.

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U.S. Court Of Appeal Calls Marijuana Schedule One Narcotic

February 7, 2013,

On Tuesday, January 22, 2013 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Washington D.C. Circuit ruled that marijuana will remain illegal for doctors to prescribe as medicine. The court agreed with lawyers from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) who argued that there are no "adequate and well-controlled" studies that document any medical benefits of marijuana use.

Currently marijuana is on the same list of addictive and otherwise harmful narcotics such as peyote, LSD and Ecstasy (although methamphetamine and heroin are not on the same list). The Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis, which includes the ASA (Americans for Safe Access, the country's leading medical marijuana advocacy organization) have been trying for years now to remove marijuana from the government's list of addictive and harmful narcotics.

Joe Eford, the lead attorney for Americans for Safe Access argued that the court's findings, "To deny that sufficient evidence is lacking on the medical efficacy of marijuana is to ignore a mountain of well-documented studies that conclude otherwise." The Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis and the ASA filed the original petition to have marijuana reclassified nine years. It took the DEA nine years to finally respond (see article:
http://blogs.ocweekly.com/navelgazing/2011/07/obama_says_marijuana_is_not_me.php) at which point they rejected the petition.

The ASA plans to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court, but is also calling on both Congress and the President to unilaterally end the war on pot. Now that states like Colorado and Washington State have passed laws legalizing the recreational use of pot, Elford argued. "It's time for President Obama to change his harmful policy with regard to medical marijuana and treat this as a public health issue, something entirely within the capability and authority of the executive office."

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