KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Study Shows 25 Percent Of Colorado Foster Kids On Psychotropic Drugs

The rate is 12 times greater than for other children on government insurance, a new study in Colorado finds.

The Denver Post:  Colorado Responds Slowly To Psychotropic Drug Use Among Foster Kids
Diego Conde was 12 when his mother died, devastated and bursting with rage at the rotten way life was treating him. The only living thing left that mattered to him was his tiny dog, Littlefoot. Then, three months later, Littlefoot died. Diego was sent to live with strangers — a string of foster families in Denver and Aurora. He got in fights at school, started drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana, and exploded in anger at his teachers and temporary parents. At 13, he overdosed on borrowed prescriptions because he "couldn't take it anymore." And so the state medicated him heavily, with twice-daily doses of potent mood-altering psychotropic drugs he says he did not want to take.  About 4,300 of Colorado's 16,800 foster children -- more than a quarter -- were prescribed psychotropics in 2012, according to a University of Colorado analysis released to The Denver Post under open-records laws. Among teens in foster care, 37 percent were prescribed psychotropic drugs (Brown and Osher, 4/13).

The Denver Post:  Drug Firms Used Dangerous Tactics To Drive Sales To Treat Kids
Pharmaceutical companies wooed academic leaders, ghostwrote articles, suppressed damaging health data and lavished doctors with gifts to make prescribing powerful psychotropic drugs to children a blockbuster profit center, a trail of lawsuits over the past two decades shows. As a Colorado Springs sales representative for GlaxoSmithKline, Greg Thorpe tried to put a stop to the practice. His manager wrote him up for not being a "team player" after he objected to the free spa treatments and pedicures, hunting trips, tickets to sports games and skiing junkets that his supervisors expected him to give out to doctors and others (Osher and Brown, 4/14). 

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