Foster youth drugged

Doctors wooed by Big Pharma are over-prescribing medication to foster children

Pressure is mounting for state regulators to rein in doctors who over-prescribe psychotropic medication to foster children.

In an investigative series by the San Jose Mercury News, “Drugging Our Kids,” the newspaper reported that, compared to average physicians in California, doctors working in the foster care system receive more than twice as many perks from big drug companies in the form of meals, gifts, travel, speaking engagements and industry-sponsored research. The Mercury News also found that doctors who prescribed the most medication to foster youth last year accepted nearly four times more payment than doctors who prescribed less, while pharmaceutical companies spent more than $14 million from 2010 to 2013 wooing those prescribers.

In a Nov. 24 letter, Carmen Balber, executive director of nonprofit group Consumer Watchdog, urges the California Medical Board to thoroughly investigate prescription-happy doctors. Balber argues that excessive prescribing has put children’s health at risk and cost taxpayers millions of dollars for unnecessary drugs.