Get sick, get well
Hang around a ink well
Ring bell, hard to tell
If anything is goin' to sell
-- Bob Dylan

Monday, August 12, 2013

Children on Medicaid are prescribed anti-psychotic drugs at 4 times rate of those privately insured

Drug makers for years have been making billions marketing antipsychotic and antidepressents for use in schools and foster homes on children with behavioral issues.

Now Barron's and WSJ report that the feds are investigating the over-prescribing of anti-psychotic drugs like Abilify (now the nation's No. 1 prescription drug) to children from low-income families on Medicaid. The children, often diagnosed with "behavioral problems" such as bipolar disorder or "irritability" associated with autism, or even kids with ADHD, are prescribed antipsychotics at four times the rate of privately insured children, according to a study by Stephen Crystal, a professor of health policy at Rutgers University, that looked at data from 2004 on 6- to 17-year-old children in seven states.

Government Medicaid data indicate that some of the prescriptions are being written for very young children. An analysis by Mathematica found that in 2008, 19,045 children age 5 and under were prescribed antipsychotics through Medicaid, 3% of recipients under 20, up from 7,759 in 1999, according to James Verdier, a senior fellow at the organization. Some were under a year old, including one listed as a month old. In New York, a spokesman for the state health department said some children between ages 1 and 2 received antipsychotics for conditions such as autistic disorder and attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity.
Dr. Fernando Siles, a pediatric psychiatrist in the Dallas area who treats many poor foster children, says he sometimes prescribes such medications to treat serious behavior problems. "A child that continues to be aggressive will be kicked out from his foster home," he says. "The antipsychotic is to stabilize the behavior of the child, to keep him from being moved and moved again."
The article doesn't break it down by race. I would like to know if children of color are being given anti-psychotics in great numbers than are white kids. What would you guess?


  1. Medicare for children? Wouldn't it be Medicaid?

  2. Thanks Anon. Must have been my Medicare kicking in.