Consumer Watchdog Calls for Release of Documents on Psychotropic Medication Prescribing in Foster Care, Ban on Big Pharma Payments to Doctors

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SANTA MONICA, CA: Saying the public has a right to know, Consumer Watchdog called upon Senators Mike McGuire and Jim Beall to subpoena Department of Health Care Services data on prescribing patterns of psychotropic medication by doctors to foster youth. Senator McGuire and Senator Beall are holding a joint legislative hearing today on the misuse of psychotropic medication in the foster care system. Saying payments by pharmaceutical drugmakers to doctors are a conflict of interest and a threat to patient safety, Consumer Watchdog also called for a ban on such payments.

“Today’s hearing on the misuse of psychotropic drugs and foster youth must be followed by concrete steps to address the problem,” said Michael Kapp with Consumer Watchdog. “Without critical government-held data it’s impossible to know the extent of these bad prescribing practices. The Legislature should subpoena this information, and pass a ban on payments from pharmaceutical drugmakers to doctors.”

Read the letter to Senators Mike McGuire and Jim Beall here:

“The public has a right to know when doctors are placing children at risk,” wrote Consumer Watchdog. “We urge you to use your committees’ subpoena power to require the Department of Health Care Services and the Department of Social Services to disclose which doctors are prescribing to foster youth, how many prescriptions each doctor wrote, the type, quantity and dosage of those prescriptions, and year-to-year prescribing trends.”

Today’s hearing comes after a groundbreaking Bay Area News Group 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.

Read the Bay Area News Group report here:

The letter continued:

“[B]ecause DCHS and CDSS will not provide the information necessary to determine these physicians’ prescribing patterns, no one is able to determine if a doctor favored prescribing certain drugs after he received money from its manufacturer. Until such payments by pharmaceutical drugmakers to doctors are banned outright, someone must have the full picture on payments and prescriptions to determine if undue influence over doctors’ prescribing habits is placing the health of foster children at risk.”

The letter concluded:

“We understand legislation may be in the works to require the collection and review of data regarding the prescribing of psychotropic medications to foster children. Until that time, your committees can subpoena the necessary records to allow the Quality Improvement Project and the public to shine a light on prescribing patterns. We also urge that you introduce legislation banning payments by pharmaceutical companies to doctors so that potential financial conflicts are avoided.”

Watch today’s joint hearing starting at 2:30pm:

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