Welfare Preschoolers Guinea Pigs For Powerful Drug Treatment

Prescribing preschoolers drugs treatments such as mood stabilizers, antidepressants, and ADHD (for attention-deficit disorder/attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder) remedies seems like a no-brainer bad idea. But more than one percent of the poor helpless children in familes receiving Medicaid (81,000) are being used as Guinea pigs for powerful pharmaceutical companies.

Preschoolers As Guinea Pigs For Drugs. Steve Ford Elliott. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_development#/media/File:Soapbubbles-SteveEF.jpg

Even more shocking, babies younger than one-year-old (.17 percent) and toddlers  between one and two years of age (.34 percent) within the federal poverty level are also among the Guinea pigs, being prescribed psychotropic drugs.

Guinea Pigs For Powerful Drugs

These psychotropic drugs are untested for safety or effectiveness in this age group according to a new study.

 One example of a psychotropic drug is lithium which is prescribed for bipolar disorder, and it is legal and tested – but not on preschoolers. It is unclear how drugs this powerful affect the preschoolers’ mood, perception, or behavior. Keep in mind, these drugs are as powerful as the illicit drug, cocaine.

Lead author of this study, Lauren Garfield, Ph.D. states,

“The fact that any children this small are using psychotropic drugs is very worrisome…

“Because we don’t have indications in our data, it is not entirely clear why these children are receiving psychotropic drugs.”

Study co-author Ramesh Raghavan, M.D., Ph.D., suggests alternatives to drug therapy,

 “If these medications are being used solely for behavioral control, then it seems clear that we need to better assess these children, and see if they might be better served by the use of evidence-based behavioral interventions.”

Advocates Against Child Guinea Pigs

Fortunately there is an advocate against using poor preschool children as Guinea pigs. Associate commissioner of the Children’s Bureau at the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), JooYeun Chang, is a powerful force in fighting to reduce unnecessary psychotropic drugs among child welfare populations. Chang says,

“Increased access to timely and effective screening, assessment, and non-pharmaceutical treatment will reduce over-prescription of psychotropic medication as a first-line treatment strategy, improve their emotional and behavioral health, and increase the likelihood that children in foster care will exit to positive, permanent settings, with the skills and resources they need to be successful in life.”

The study was based upon data from the 2000-2003 Medicaid Analytic Extract of 36 states. The results of the study are published here in the American Journal of Public Health, Washington University in St. Louis.

Using poor children as Guinea pigs for the pharmaceutical companies is dangerous, potentially illegal, and completely unethical.