Florida has plied children in state juvenile jails with heavy doses of powerful antipsychotic medications, reports the Palm Beach Post. The pills, viewed as the “big guns” of psychiatry, can cause suicidal thoughts and other dangerous side effects. Yet, in state-run jails and residential programs, antipsychotics were among the top drugs bought for kids – and they routinely were doled out for reasons that never were approved by federal regulators.
Told of the newspaper’s findings, the state juvenile justice director ordered a sweeping review of the department’s use of antipsychotic medications. The agency doesn’t track prescriptions and has no way of telling whether doctors are putting kids on pills simply to make them easier to control. Broward County Public Defender Howard Finkelstein said, “If kids are being given these drugs without proper diagnosis, and it is being used as a ‘chemical restraint,’ I would characterize it as a crime. A battery – a battery of the brain each and every time it is given.” In some cases, the drugs are prescribed by contract doctors who have taken huge speaker fees and other gifts from makers of antipsychotic pills, companies that reap staggering profits selling medications.