Minnesota Attempts to Limit Psych Drugs for Kids

Due to an extreme rise in the prescription of powerful psychiatric drugs for adolescents, Minnesota will start requiring doctors to seek psychiatrists' help before prescribing such medication for children.
by | June 5, 2012

Due to an extreme rise in the prescription of powerful psychiatric drugs for adolescents, Minnesota will start requiring doctors to seek psychiatrists' help before prescribing such medication for children, reports the Minnesota Star Tribune.

The Mayo clinic has been awarded a two-year contract by the state Department of Human Services to run a state-funded consulting service that will advise doctors on whether antipsychotic and stimulant medications are appropriate for young patients.

Research has found that doctors are overprescribing these medications because they lack specialized training. To combat this problem, Mayo is collaborating with regional medical providers to create a network of trained psychiatrists who can give advice to doctors regarding prescriptions and treatment options, according to the paper.

The system, which will begin running in August, was created in response to a stark increase in the amount of psychiatric drugs being prescribed to Minnesota’s foster children as well as disabled and poor children in the state’s Medicaid fee-for-service program, according to the paper. Children in foster care are five times more likely to receive psychotropic medications than other children, according to state Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson.

The Medicaid program’s spending on antipsychotics for children jumped from $402,000 in 2000 to $6.8 million in 2006, according to a Tribune report, which also found that the increase in spending matched an increase in the diagnosis of bipolar disorder in children.

The two-year program will cost roughly $1.7 million in state and federal funding. State officials believe the cost will be offset by reduced hospitalizations of children who see no benefit -- or are worse off -- after taking psychotropic drugs, reports the paper.

Leigh Ann Renzulli  |  Leigh Ann Renzulli

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