CA Medical Board Must Investigate Drug Company Payments to Doctors Prescribing Psychiatric Drugs To Foster Children

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SANTA MONICA, CA: Following a report that prescription drug manufacturers have paid or spent more than $14 million to doctors who prescribe drugs to children in California’s foster care system, Consumer Watchdog called on the California Medical Board to expand an investigation into doctors who prescribed dangerous and unapproved psychotropic medications to children.

“An investigation by the Bay Area News Group found that from 2010 to 2013 pharmaceutical drug makers paid to or spent more than $14 million on doctors who prescribe drugs to children in our foster care system. Payments to doctors for prescribing certain drugs provide undue influence, interfere with the doctor-patient relationship, and induce physicians to breach their fiduciary duty to their patients," wrote Carmen Balber and Michael Kapp of Consumer Watchdog to the President of the California Medical Board.

Read the Bay Area News Group investigation here:

Read the letter here:

“Children in the foster care system, our most vulnerable population, are being targeted by predatory drug companies and doctors,” said Carmen Balber with Consumer Watchdog. “Few are as defenseless as these children, but drug makers are giving millions to doctors and interfering with the patient-doctor relationship to get their drugs prescribed. The Medical Board should investigate those doctors who took drug company money and prescribed drugs to children that may have placed their health at risk.”

“This report makes clear that the state has failed to take the steps necessary to protect children from predatory drugmakers and doctors. Indeed, according to this report, doctors who wrote more than 75 prescriptions to foster children in a year received more payments from Big Pharma – about $10,000 more – than those with fewer prescriptions,” wrote Consumer Watchdog. “We ask that you expand your current investigation to determine if children are inappropriately being prescribed or overprescribed because of drug manufacturer payments to their physicians.”

State Senator Ted Lieu asked the Medical Board in August to investigate doctors who prescribed dangerous psychotropic medications to children that were not approved for children, without reviewing medical records or drug history, however no action has yet been announced.

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Carmen Balber
Carmen Balber
Consumer Watchdog executive director Carmen Balber has been with the organization for nearly two decades. She spent four years directing the group’s Washington, D.C. office where she advocated for key health insurance market reforms that were ultimately enacted into law as part of the Affordable Care Act.

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