A report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to be released tomorrow reveals that American foster children are drugged with powerful, mind-altering psychiatric drugs at many times the rate of non-foster children.
The GAO’s report, based on a two-year-long investigation, looked at five states — Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon and Texas. Among the key findings:
- Foster children were nearly five times more likely to be prescribed psychiatric drugs than non-foster children.
- Overall, nearly one-third of the foster children in the five states under investigation were prescribed at least one psychiatric drug. (Other studies have shown that as many as half of foster kids in other areas are on psychiatric drugs.)
- Thousands of foster children were being prescribed psychiatric drugs at doses higher than the maximum levels approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in these five states alone, and hundreds received five or more psychiatric drugs at the same time despite absolutely no evidence supporting the simultaneous use or safety of this number of psychiatric drugs taken together.
- Foster children were more than nine times more likely than non-foster children to be prescribed drugs for which there was no FDA-recommended dose for their age.
- Foster children less than 1 year old were twice as likely to be prescribed a psychiatric drug as non-foster 1-year-olds.
When U.S. Senator Thomas Carper, D-Delaware, lead requestor of the GAO report, first learned of the report’s findings, he said:
“I was almost despondent to believe that the kids under the age of one, babies under the age of one were receiving this kind of medication.”
Carper requested the study after receiving numerous reports of waste and abuse in the prescribing of psychiatric drugs to foster children.
Taxpayers foot much of the bill. Medicaid spends more than $6 billion per year on psychiatric drugs, or nearly 30 percent of its entire drug budget, more than double what was spent in 1999, according to the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services.
The report has already raised calls for states to report pharmacy claims of the psychiatric drugs given to foster children for more transparency on the issue.
ABC News was given advance access to the GAO report. The ABC report can be accessed by clicking here.
If you know about a foster child who has been harmed by psychiatric drugs, we want to talk to you. You can contact us privately by clicking here or by calling 303-789-5225. All information will be kept in the strictest confidence. We welcome your comments on this article below.