December 16, 2011
A 12-year-old Texas boy testified before Congress that he was drugged for four years with multiple anti-psychotic medications while in the state foster system. The boy, identified only as Ke’onte, recalled that the drugs left him “in a stupor” and physically ill.
Governmental Child Abuse
The child’s ordeal was revealed when a Government Accountability Office report was released pointing to the failure of the federal government to protect foster children. The report stated that foster children were up to 13 times more likely to be prescribed anti-psychotics and anti-depressants than other children.
Ke’onte told legislators that being drugged was “the worst thing anyone could do to foster kids.” He lost his appetite because of the medication and felt so exhausted “I would collapse wherever I was in the house.” The drugs also interfered with his mental abilities: “My foster parents would tell me something, and I wouldn’t be able to process it,” the child told members of a Congressional subcommittee.
The boy was prescribed the medications after being misdiagnosed with ADHD and bipolar syndrome. During his testimony he recalled a history of pharmaceutical abuse at the hands of the state: “I’ve been in the mental hospital three times during foster care, and every time I had to get on more meds or new meds to add to the ones I was already taking.” The child was in the foster care system for four years of his life.
Therapy not drugs
Since Ke’onte’s adoption in 2009, he no longer takes the anti-psychotic drugs. His well-being has improved dramatically. He plays clarinet in his school band, competes in cross-country events and participates in school plays. He now goes to a therapist rather than receiving drugs. The boy notes the difference between his current and previous situation: “In therapy, you talk about the deepest things and it hurts, but you can deal with it better the next time. I’m not only more focused in school, I’m not going to the office anymore for bad behavior and I’m happy.”
Ke’onte’s story is only the latest to emerge of the ongoing horrors foster children experience at the hands of prescription-happy doctors. A study published in the journal of Pediatrics revealed that foster children covered by Medicaid insurance are prescribed psychotropic medication more than three times as often as children who qualify for Medicaid because of family income levels. In Texas alone, Medicaid paid for more than $200 million in psychotropic drugs for children in 2008.
Only half of state child welfare systems have policies in place to review the prescription of drugs to children in the system. Even those states that have oversight policies do not have stringent supervision to protect children against over-medication.
Diseases for Dollars
Pharmaceutical companies have had an ongoing campaign for several decades to increase their sales by branding conditions as diseases and then linking them in the public’s mind to a drug. This phenomenon is documented in the book “Selling Sickness: How the World’s Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies Are Turning Us All Into Patients” by Ray Moynihan and Alan Cassels. The book traces the ways in which pharmaceutical companies have in effect invented new diseases in order to sell more drugs.
While adults have the ability to educate themselves and resist the insidious marketing campaigns which create diseases in order to sell drugs, children need a responsible to adult to look out for their best interests. Without any adult advocate protecting them, foster children are the most vulnerable to the growing trend to over medicate youth. The Citizens Commission on Human Rights International warns that as many as 52% of children in the US foster care system are prescribed psychiatric drugs.
This article was posted: Friday, December 16, 2011 at 4:15 am