Mental Health Watchdog CCHR Supports New Bill to Help Foster Care Children

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Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a leading mental health watchdog, announces its support for newly introduced legislation in the state of California with its latest press release, applauding the legislative effort to put the needs of foster care children over the profits of the pharmaceutical industry.

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Assembly Bill 1067 will work towards necessary improvements, 'which include making sure our foster children have a say about what medication they are given.' — Assemblyman Mike Gipson (64th District)

In a newly released article, the mental health watchdog Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), applauds newly introduced legislation in the state of California that aims to curb the psychiatric drugging of foster care children. CCHR states that in wake of the recent San Jose Mercury News investigation, “Drugging Our Kids,” which uncovered high rates of psychotropic drugging of California’s foster care children (nearly 25%), lawmakers in California are now understanding the urgency of legislation to curb this practice.[1]

California Assemblyman Mike Gipson (64th District) has submitted language, amending existing legislation (AB 1067), providing for specific protections from psychiatric/medication abuse of children under state care.[2] Supporting groups, such as CCHR, say it is the first legislation to serve foster children rather than psychiatric pharmaceuticals.

CCHR states that Assemblyman Gipson’s legislation would be an important step in changing the system. Specifically, it addresses informed consent issues and rights for minors and non-minors in foster care, including:

  • To be informed of the risks and benefits of psychotropic medication.
  • To appear before the judge determining if psychotropic medication should be administered, with an advocate of his or her choice, and state that he or she objects to any recommendation to prescribe psychotropic medication.
  • The availability to refuse the administration of psychotropic drugs.
  • To have a prescribing doctor disclose any financial ties he or she may have to pharmaceutical companies.[2]

The latter is in response to the revelation by San Jose Mercury News that between 2010-2013 drug makers spent more than $14 million marketing to California doctors treating foster care children and those doctors with high prescription rates typically received the most funding.[3]

CCHR says that a good example of this much needed legislation involves the prescribing of the antipsychotic, Risperdal. Many of the claims surrounding Risperdal involve gynecomastia allegations—a condition that causes young males to grow female breasts. In February 2015, a Philadelphia jury awarded Austin Pledger $2.5 million in damages because he “was not adequately warned” that he would grow size 46DD breasts as a side effect of using the antipsychotic. According to court documents, Pledger was 8 years old when he first was prescribed Risperdal. The court documents also showed that the drug label falsely reported that the risk of gynecomastia was low.[4 - Case No. 120401997, The Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Filed 4/18/12]

Attorney Allison Folmar is intimately aware of the effects caused by the use of antipsychotics on children. Folmar represented Detroit mother Maryanne Godboldo against state child protective services, not to drug her then 13-year-old daughter with Risperdal, per court documents.[5 - Case No. 11057748-01, 36 District Court, Detroit, Michigan, filed 03/27/2011]

According to Folmar in an interview with CCHR, “Foster children are prescribed psychotropic drugs at rates nearly five times higher than non-foster children. These drugs can cause life-threatening diabetes, violent and suicidal behavior and even brain shrinkage. That is being done to children who already are traumatized…. We need to turn such turmoil into triumph by changing the laws—state-by-state—until every child is protected.”

Bruce Wiseman, the U.S. President of CCHR, states, “In order to do the right thing, to legitimately uphold the mission of the California Department of Social Services, ‘to serve, aid, and protect needy and vulnerable children…,’ support of Assemblyman Gipson’s legislation is a hopeful first step in ebbing the tide of psychiatric prescribing.”[6]

Sign CCHR’s Petition to Prevent the Dangerous Psychotropic Drugging of California’s Foster Care Youth here.

Read the full article here.

About Citizens Commission on Human Rights: CCHR is a non-profit, non-political, non-religious mental health watchdog. Its mission is to eradicate abuses committed under the guise of mental health and enact patient and consumer protections. CCHR has helped to enact more than 150 laws protecting individuals from abusive or coercive mental health practices.

References:

[1] Karen de Sa, "Drugging Our Kids," San Jose Mercury News, 24 Aug. 2014, webspecial.mercurynews.com/druggedkids/?page=pt1.

[2] “An act to amend Section 16001.9 of the Welfare and Institutions Code, relating to foster children,” California Legislative Counsel’s Digest, General Subject: Foster children: psychotropic medication, 16 Feb 2015, cchrint.org/pdfs/leg-counsel-digest-ab-1067.pdf.

[3] Karen de Sa, “Drugging Our Kids: Part III, The Rx Alliance That Drugs Our Kids,” San Jose Mercury News, 23 Nov 2014, webspecial.mercurynews.com/druggedkids/?page=pt3.

[4] Case No. 120401997, The Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, P.P., et al. v. Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., et al., Filed April 18, 2012; Vinny Vella, “Man, 20, awarded $2.5M in damages after drug gave him breasts,” Philadelphia Daily News, 26 Feb 2015, articles.philly.com/2015-02-26/news/59504751_1_robyn-reed-frenze-risperdal-breasts.

[5] Case No. 11057748-01, 36 District Court, Detroit, Michigan, filed 03/27/2011; Heather Catallo, "Mom who chose to take daughter off medication files lawsuit...," ABC 7, WXYZ Detroit, 10 May 2012, http://www.wxyz.com/news/local-news/investigations/mom-who-chose-to-take-daughter-off-medication-files-lawsuit-alleges-daughter-deprived-of-prosthesis.

[6] “About CDSS,” California Department of Social Services, http://www.cdss.ca.gov/cdssweb/PG190.htm, accessed 19 Mar. 2015.

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