Earlier this year, I devoted three columns on the efforts in California to reign in the indiscriminate use of psychotropic medications in foster care. California’s group homes were where much of the problem appeared to be concentrated.1
I wish I could report that the news media on the whole recognized the importance of three of the four proposed reform bills having been signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown. Alas, we have National Public Radio – the sole remaining bulwark of any major consequence in a world that has come to be largely dominated by a handful of corporate news monopolies that are very much under the thumb of powerful advertisers – to get the story out in an unbiased fashion.2
In an article dated October 08, 2015, entitled California Approves Laws To Cut Use Of Antipsychotics In Foster Care, NPR reports:
Efforts to protect children in foster care from being inappropriately medicated with powerful antipsychotic drugs got a big boost forward on Tuesday, when California Gov. Jerry Brown signed three bills into law designed to reform prescribing.
Overprescribing of psychiatric meds for foster youth is a persistent problem nationwide, with children given the drugs at double or triple the rate of those not in foster care.
The article reminds us that the Government Accountability Office issued a report that found one out of four foster children were on prescribed psychotropic meds.
As NPR explains it:
Hundreds of children were found to be taking five or more psychotropic medications at a time, and thousands were prescribed doses that exceeded FDA-approved guidelines. According to the report, monitoring programs fell short of guidelines established by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Many of the medications have side effects that include lethargy, weight gain, diabetes and tremors.
Credit is due for keeping the story alive, however regarding the “guidelines established by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry,” NPR staffers apparently allowed themselves into being beguiled by the AACAP, who have done a remarkable job of masquerading as advocates for children when they are in fact advocates of the drug lobby.
NPR, by way of leading toward an informative infographic, reminds the reader that 63,000 children and teens in California’s foster care system stand to be impacted by the legislation.
The article closes out by saying, “The Oakland-based National Center for Youth Law, which was among the legislation’s sponsors, called it the most comprehensive effort in the U.S. to date to curb the misuse of psychotropics in foster care. However, a bill that would have required a prior medical examination and ongoing monitoring before a juvenile court could authorize psychotropic drugs was pulled from the legislative package following intensive lobbying by associations representing physicians and group homes.”
The only failing is that NPR neglected to make the appropriate connection between these “associations representing physicians and group homes” and their connections to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, which is where the trail ultimately leads.
A great deal of gratitude is to be extended to the National Center for Youth Law, the Bay area News Group, the bi-partisan group of California legislators that carved out the legislation, and to Gov. Jerry Brown for having signed it, notwithstanding extensive lobbying from the pharmaceutical industry.
1. In the previous installment, Opponents of Psychotropic Foster Care Reform Bills Rally Forces as Bills Await Governor’s Approval, dated 09/17/15, I examined at length the interrelated business associations that had combined forces in an effort to block the legislation. The as preceded by California Legislators Take Aim at Psychotropics in Foster Care, which described efforts by the National Center for youth Law, the Bay Area News Group, which had released a comprehensive series entitled Drugging Our Kids, which detailed how “how the largest foster care system in the U.S. has grown dependent on quick-fix, taxpayer-funded, big-profit pharmaceuticals — and how the state has done little to stop it.” The first in my own series on this topic was CA: PsychDrugs Action Campaign Needs Your Help , released on Marck 15, of this year.
2. It is no secret that powerful forces in Congress have long sought to cut funding for this independent news source. Consider that according to a Google News search, this story would be largely invisible as of early Sundey Morning, October 10, 2015. It was also NPR that devoted a great deal of coverage to the gross ICWA violations in South Dakota, that are now the subject of a federal lawsuit in the which the United States of America as joined as a party in interest on the part of the Native American families that have been ravaged by child welfare in South Dakota in clear violation of federal law. NPR has consistently devoted coverage to stories that other news outlets largely ignored, such as the People United for Children’s lawsuit against New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services. you may wish to consider these events the next time someone encourages you to support “pulling the plug” on Nation Public Radio. Disclosure: Yes, I am editorializing, and expressing my own opinion, as is my right in a column that I alone compose free of the concern of editorial backlash from potential advertisers, none of whom are knocking at my door to bear influence over my writings.