National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy

Litigating to Address Unwarranted Psychiatric Drugging of Poor Children

Jim Gottstein, J.D.

Through relentless and often (at least formerly) illegal promotion, the drug industry has contributed to overmedicating poor, disadvantaged children on Medicaid with psychiatric drugs. The neuroleptics, misleadingly marketed as "antipsychotics," decried for their toxic effects and for the lack of evidence supporting their pediatric use, have been increasingly prescribed for offlabel, unstudied indications, notably to children in foster care who number over 400,000 and are 2 to 5 times more likely than children in the community to receive psychiatric drugs. To address this problem, the Law Project for Psychiatric Rights (PsychRights) has identified three strategic litigation approaches: (1) False Claims Act (Medicaid Fraud) cases based on the fact that most of the prescriptions not being for what is defined as medically accepted indications in the Medicaid Statute and therefore not covered under Medicaid, (2) Civil Rights Cases under 42 USC Section 1983 for states violating the rights of foster children and youth to be free from the unreasonable risk of harm at the hands of the state, and (3) challenges to the Food and Drug Administration's pediatric approval of psychotropic drugs, especially the neuroleptics. This workshop will present an analysis of each of these approaches. Participants should leave the workshop with a clear understanding of these actions.

Link to brief presenter bio:

Jim Gottstein, J.D.