In any event, the paper reports that, iIn the past seven years, the number of Florida children prescribed these drugs has increased some 250 percent. Last year, more than 18,000 state kids on Medicaid were given prescriptions for antipsychotic drugs. Even children as young as 3 years old.
Last year, 1,100 Medicaid children under 6 years old were prescribed antipsychotics, a practice so risky that state regulators say it should be used only in extreme cases. These numbers are just for children on fee-for-service Medicaid, generally the poor and disabled. Thousands more kids on private insurance are also on antipsychotics.
""There are no studies that have shown they (atypicals) are safe, or for that matter, that they are effective for children...The bottom line is that the use of psychiatric medications far exceeds the evidence of safety and effectiveness," says Ronald Brown, who last year headed an American Psychological Association committee that looked into the issue. "What people need to do is what's in the best interest of children instead of what's in the best interest of people's pocketbooks. But children don't vote."
Mark Olfson of Columbia University studied the use of antipsychotics in children and concluded that only a small percentage had psychotic disorders. Most were used to treat mood disorders, depression, anxiety and ADHD - by families and docs who have tried everything else and are ready to step outside the well-established treatments and take more risks.
"Most child psychiatrists would probably tell you it does work," Olfson tells the paper. "But there is a real need for research, clinical experiments, to determine whether in fact it does work. Given the number of young people, it is a matter of urgency."
This isn't cut and dry, however. The report includes numerous anecdotes from frustrated and concerned parents that are well worth reading. Take a look.