Report: Doctors Prescribe Thousands Of Powerful Psychiatric Drugs To Infants, Toddlers

| by Michael Allen

Earlier this year, it was reported how foster children were being overmedicated with psychiatric medications. Now, newly-released data shows that toddlers and infants, 2 years old and younger, are being prescribed these powerful drugs.

IMS Health, a prescription data company, found that almost 20,000 prescriptions for Risperdal, Seroquel and similar types of drugs were prescribed for children 2 years old and younger in 2014, notes The New York Times. Prozac prescriptions for this age group hit about 83,000.

There is no data for how many infants and toddlers got these prescriptions because children may receive multiple prescriptions, but other studies suggest the number could be around 10,000.

The doctors who prescribed these medications, which are not recommended or tested for children this young, escaped scrutiny as their names were not included in the data. There was also no mention of what conditions these prescriptions were written for.

"A dozen experts in child psychiatry and neurology" told the newspaper that they had never heard of such young children being given these types of drugs, but speculated that the prescriptions were written to treat temper tantrums and nonverbal depression.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced in 2014 that more than 10,000 kids between the ages of 2-3 years old were being given medication outside of medical guidelines for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), noted The New York Times.

The toddlers most likely given prescriptions for Ritalin and Adderall, as these are covered by Medicaid.

“It’s absolutely shocking, and it shouldn’t be happening,” Anita Zervigon-Hakes, a children’s mental health consultant to the Carter Center, told the newspaper at the time. “People are just feeling around in the dark. We obviously don’t have our act together for little children.”

However, prescribing ADHD medication doesn't seem to be "feeling around in the dark" for the drug companies that are making billions of dollars from these drugs.

Sales of ADHD medication have increased by 8 percent every year since 2010 and are expected to grow by 13 percent in 2015, according to a new study by IBISWorld, a market research firm. If the projections are right, the drug companies will rake in $12.9 billion in 2015, and $17.5 billion in 2020.

Drug companies have made huge profits in the ADHD market by exploiting a requirement in Obamacare that forces insurance companies and Medicaid to cover mental health care treatments, which includes, "behavioral disorder assessments and treatments," reported Mother Jones.

Sources: Opposing ViewsThe New York Times (2), Mother Jones / Photo Credit: Tom Varco/Wikimedia, e-Magine Art/Flickr