Conflict of Interest Rampant in Child Drug Prescriptions
December 06, 2008
Focus has been placed on alleged financial conflicts of interest of psychiatrists involved in the Children’s Medication Algorithm Project (CMAP). The CMAP protocol has been “quietly shelved” after objections were raised by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.
The state of Texas is suing a pharmaceutical company that allegedly used false advertising and improper influence to get its products on the now-mandatory adult protocol, the Texas Medication Algorithm Project (TMAP).
Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) stated that three Harvard experts whose research contributed to an explosion of antipsychotic drug use in children failed to report a combined $3.2 million in company consulting fees, in violation of Harvard’s rules.
Controversy about promotion of psychotropics in children is breaking out in other states also. New Jersey state assemblyman Michael Coherty wrote to the state department of health on Aug 20, asking about the policy that permitted the NJ Medicaid program to spend $73 million between 2000 and 2007 on antipsychotic drugs for children under the age of 18 although the drugs are not FDA approved for pediatric use. Lawsuits are pending in several states.
Issues include improper marketing and failure to disclose serious side effects, which prompted state programs to overpay for olanzapine (Zyprexa), quetiapine (Seroquel), and risperidone (Risperdal).
Particularly in children, it is not just the drugs prescribed, but the diagnoses that are in question. Six million children have been diagnosed with serious psychiatric disorders warranting drug treatment -- 1 million with bipolar disorder, long believed to occur only in adults.