Will The Governor Include MedWatch Training To Proposed Mental Health Initiatives?

January 27th, 2014 | Press Releases

Will The Governor Include MedWatch Training To Proposed Mental Health Initiatives?

Sandy Hook Shooter Proves Need For Inclusion

In an apparent response to the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, Connecticut Governor, Dannel P. Malloy, has announced increased funding in the state’s mental health budget. Why?

If shooter, Adam Lanza, had been a product of the state mental health system there may be some evidence to back up such broad changes, and this increased spending may make sense. But, to date, there is no evidence that Lanza received any state mental health assistance.

In fact, based on what little information has been made public about Lanza’s mental health treatment, it appears that, beyond school recommendations to the family, the father’s private insurance was used and the family did not depend on state sponsored benefits.

Of course, the last publically known mental health treatment Lanza received was from the Yale Child Study Center, which, oddly enough, provided information to investigators about an adverse drug event Lanza was experiencing from the prescribed antidepressant, Celexa.

According to the State Police investigation of the shooting, Yale Child Study Center Registered Nurse, Kathleen Koenig, prescribed Celexa to Lanza and was “immediately” contacted by Nancy Lanza, who reported that her son was “unable to raise his arm.”

Did Koenig recommend discontinuation of the antidepressant?  No. In fact, Koenig told police investigators that she tried to “convince Nancy Lanza that the medication was not causing any purported symptoms which Adam might be experiencing.”

Koenig’s response seems questionable.  First it is important to point out that Celexa has not been approved for use by children, so the prescription was written “off-label” when Adam was 15 years old.  More importantly, though, the “serious side effects” include: “call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as: very stiff (rigid) muscles.”

To the layman, it doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility that Lanza, unable to lift his arm, may have been experiencing one of the serious side effects of the antidepressant.  In fact, a quick perusal of the internet reveals many reports of similar complaints associated with Celexa.

Is it possible that Koenig was unaware of the specific side effects associated with Celexa?  Did Koenig review the possible adverse side effects of Celexa before providing her medical advice?

Koenig further reports to investigators that “Nancy Lanza was not receptive to Koenig’s reasoning,” and that Nancy Lanza “missed at least one scheduled appointment…and failed to schedule subsequent appointments for Lanza.”

Again, given Koenig’s response to Nancy Lanza regarding what very likely could be a serious adverse reaction to the psychiatric drug, is it so tough to understand why Nancy Lanza decided to end her son’s relationship with the Yale Child Study Center?”

It is interesting to note, however, that investigators do not mention whether Koenig reported this adverse drug event to the Food and Drug Administration’s MedWatch System. Nor do investigators mention whether Koenig advised Nancy Lanza that she could report the adverse event to the FDA herself.

Ablechild believes that the MedWatch System is an important, no-cost, tool that is necessary for the FDA to make safety recommendations and post warnings to consumers about drugs. In an effort to provide consumers with this important information, Ablechild is lobbying State lawmakers in an effort to have information about the MedWatch System made part of any new mental health training among educators and mental health care workers.

Given that the Yale Child Study Center receives state mental health funding, it seems appropriate that Governor Malloy might consider it important for organizations, such as the Yale Child Study Center, be made aware of the availability to consumers about the MedWatch System.

It’s only speculation, but it would appear that Nancy Lanza’s reporting of the adverse drug event her son was experiencing was a perfect time for an organization, such as Yale Child Study Center, to take advantage of the FDA’s MedWatch System.

 

 

 

 

Foster Care in Connecticut Conflicts of Interest

January 22nd, 2014 | Press Releases

Foster Care in Connecticut and Conflicts of Interest

Today the  Connecticut Mirror ran an article that for any eight grader would be confusing. Supposedly, the State Department of Children and Family Services, DCF, isn’t meeting federal standards when it comes to the State’s Foster Care System.

However, beneath the service what the story really appears to be is special interest groups looking for increased funding, specifically mental health funding.

Interestingly, in 2011 Ablechild wrote about the conflicts of interest that permeate the Foster Care system and, again, these same special interests are rearing their ugly heads in search increased mental health funding.

Worse, it appears that these special interest groups are jumping on the Sandy Hook mental health gravy train. As is well known, in the wake of Sandy Hook, the State will be considering increased funding for increased mental health services for the state.

Although the federal monitor believed that “system-level problems persist” in the State’s Foster Care system, Ablechild finds it odd that despite a decrease in the number of children in the state’s Foster Care system, and praise from the Department of Health and Human Services, federal agency that oversees Foster Care, that there is now a huge push for increased funding.

Regardless of what strides have been made in the State’s Foster Care system, it appears that the vast majority of funds that may be appropriated most certainly will be for additional mental health services.

Ablechild agrees with Raymond Mancuso, the federal court monitor, when he said “the problem has intensified.”  But deferring to special interest groups with conflict of interest issues, and throwing money into increased mental health funding won’t address any of the stated problems within the system.

 

NEWTOWN ONE YEAR LATER, THE MISSING LINK

December 13th, 2013 | Breaking News, Press Releases

In one of a long string of mass murders ending with the killer committing suicide, Sandy Hook, Newtown grabbed the attention of the entire world on December 14, 2012 when yet another mental health client went on a killing spree.

President Obama went to Newtown, Connecticut during the time families were mourning the loss of their children and before their burials.  The President took to the stage at the Newtown High School blocks from the deadly killings and delivered a powerful, moving heartfelt speech where he began to launch a very targeted campaign.  The President said, “We as a nation, we are left with some hard questions.”

As Steve Peoples from the Associated Press writes in his article, Year after Newtown, Gun control Groups keep hope”, “A divided Congress denied President Barack Obama’s calls for change.”  The Associated Press article describes the movement being led by President Obama.  What is not mentioned in the article, this political movement is being built on the backdrop of mourning parents, a failed investigation, a State unwilling to release the shooter’s mental health and special education records, with an incomplete release of a toxicology summary.

The AP report discloses a battle plan of a national operation backed by an alliance of well-funded organizations set up to pressure Congress ahead of next fall’s elections. The groups are sending dozens of paid staff into key states, enlisting thousands of volunteer activists preparing to spend tens of millions of dollars against politicians who stand in the way of their goals.

As the Cofounder of Ablechild, during a Fox News interview with Douglas Kennedy in the aftermath of the Red Lake massacre, Douglas Kennedy asked me, “What do you want?”  I responded, “A federal hearing into to link between psychiatric drugs and school shootings”.

We are not alone in asking the hard question. In Congresswoman Betty McCollum’s home district town hall meeting in Minnesota, again the same question, “What is the link to the shootings and the psychiatric drugs?”

The Congresswoman’s response is stunning. She said that the CDC, the Center for Disease Control, has a “rule” that prohibits the Congress from studying the link between psychiatric drugs and mass shootings. (video 39.30).

Is that true? No.

The CDC is a federal agency under the Department of Health and Human Services.  It certainly doesn’t have the power of “rule” making over Congress.

Ablechild reached out for clarification to her office regarding her comments on this CDC rule.  We received back an article about President Obama and gun control that had nothing to do with our quest for clarification on the CDC rule.  We were asked to put our request in writing; we did and as of yet have not received a response.

Congresswoman McCollum’s home State of Minnesota on March 21, 2005 suffered a killing spree called the “Red Lake Massacre” that occurred in two places on the Ojibwa Red Lake reservation.

A 16 year old, Jeffrey Wiese killed his grandfather, a tribal police officer and his grandfather’s girlfriend at their home, before going to Red lake Senior High School where he killed seven people, and wounded five others, then committed suicide.

According to relatives the teenager was taking the antidepressant Prozac, 20 milligrams 3 times a day.

Congresswoman McCollum has a great opportunity to respond to her district and push for federal hearings on mass murders and their link to psychiatric drugs.

Ablechild will continue to push for these federal hearings.  We plan to participate in the upcoming Connecticut February short legislative session to ensure the toxicology panels at the medical examiner’s office are updated and include clinical trial drugs, as well as to obtain a transparent policy  regarding toxicology reports, mental health records, and the associated link to mental health treatments in the aftermath of mass murders and suicides.

This type of legislation will ensure the public has the compelling data that already exists allowing the public to fully participate in the legislative process and to produce life saving public policies.

We agree with President Obama, it is time to ask hard questions.  We, however, don’t think it is a time to build a political movement, pass executive orders giving more funding to an unregulated and unaccountable mental health industry without asking the hard questions.  This is a vital pubic health and safety issue.

We encourage Congresswoman McCollum along with her district voters to help us obtain those federal hearings and welcome her response on our inquiry.

 

CT AAG Nervous About Releasing Adam Lanza’s Medical Records: Disclosure “Can Cause A Lot of People to Stop Taking Their Medications.”

September 1st, 2013 | Press Releases

For Immediate Release:

Contact Sheila Matthews
203-253-0329

STATE of Connecticut Claims Disclosure of Adam Lanza’s Records “Can Cause A Lot of People to Stop Taking Their Medications” in Recent Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Hearing.

Ablechild vs. Chief Medical Examiner (FIC Docket No: 2013-197):

Attorney, Patrick B. Kwanashie, AAG for the Office of the Attorney General argues release of Adam Lanza’s records to public “can cause a lot of people to stop taking their medications”.  Ablechild argues that lack of transparency compromises informed consent and puts public health “at risk”.

December 14, 2012, 20 year-old Adam Lanza fatally shot twenty children and six adults in a mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the village of Sandy Hook in Newtown, Connecticut.  He committed suicide by shooting himself in the head.

Many would agree that to prevent future tragedies from occurring like those in Newtown and Littleton, Colorado we should have a deeper understanding of what the key components and common factors are that drive a person to such acts of violence.  Ablechild, a national parent rights organization with parent members within Sandy Hook and Newtown, have been on the front lines of the Newtown tragedy as it unfolded.  It has been asking for accountability in the form of disclosure of all records pertaining to the shooter as a means of transparency, to provide the public with facts that could be pertinent in protecting their safety. Sadly this transparency has eluded the Newtown “investigation” from the start.

One relevant question that has remained unanswered was whether or not Adam Lanza was under the influence of one or more drugs, to include all prescription drugs.

“What plagues this investigation is that some are simply fixated on having it remain secret in spite of the urgency of transparency that is clearly needed to protect the public,” said Patricia Weathers Cofounder of Ablechild.  “It is alarming that here we are very close to a year later and the public still remains in the dark, records are still sealed, and the State is now saying that it is opposing a release of the records because those records “can cause a lot of people to stop taking their medications”.  This opposition comes despite the fact that 31 school shootings and/or school-related acts of violence have been committed by those taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs resulting in 162 wounded and 72 killed and despite the fact that Ablechild for years has been asking for a federal investigation into the link between psychiatric drugs and these violent acts, without result.

Mrs. Weathers went on to add, “If there is nothing to hide then disclose, especially if this information has the potential for reevaluating the use of certain psychiatric drugs that evidence shows are contributing to the rapidly growing acts of violence in this country in recent years.  Our organization thinks that both the Medical Examiner’s office and State’s actions are unacceptable and reprehensible because in actuality they place the public at risk.”

What should be more alarming to the public is that the media doesn’t question this failure to disclose that is being arbitrarily wielded by the State Medical Examiner’s Office, despite the evidence that at the very least should call for a review.  In the midst of this tragedy the State itself has scrambled for solutions in the form of firearm prevention legislation and sweeping mental health funding without ever actually demanding that all evidence be reviewed first before passing such legislation.

Newtown was the second deadliest mass shooting by a single person in American history, after the 2007 Virginia Tech Massacre and comes 14 years after Columbine.  What is telling in all of this…America is still chasing its tail while the public pays a heavy price!

For more information on Ablechild’s demand for accountability and transparency within the State of CT watch our case before the Freedom of Information Act Commission.

 

 

Ablechild Confronts CT Governor On Radio Over Newtown Shooter’s Records

May 30th, 2013 | Press Releases

Ablechild’s Co-Founder, Sheila Matthews, recently hit the radio, where she took on CT Governor, Dan Malloy and his recent move to pass a law to alter the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to prevent the release of the records of the latest school shooter in Newtown.  This move comes as Ablechild awaits a response to its appeal requesting that Adam Lanza’s medical records and toxicology report be released under FOIA in the interest of public safety.

“Viewpoint” will air on Sunday, June 2nd at 7:30am with Tony Savino on WGCH 1490-AM.

Here is the hard hitting audio interview in its entirety.

savino-mathews viewpoint 5-28-13 pt 1

savino-mathews viewpoint 5-28-13 pt 2

 

In Wake of Sandy Hook, Parent’s Rights Organization Holds Community Forum on Violence Prevention

May 14th, 2013 | Press Releases

On Monday, May 13th from 6-8pm at the Edmond Town Hall in Newtown, CT, a national parent right organization is holding a violence prevention forum which is open to the public. It will tackle difficult questions that today’s media hasn’t addressed, which deals with the growing number of school related acts of violence being linked to psychiatric drugs known to have deadly side effects.

In a major effort to educate the public on the importance of linking data together regarding 31 school shootings and/or school-related acts of violence and their association with psychiatric drugs, a national parent rights organization, Ablechild will host a forum on mental health and the importance of informed consent. The forum scheduled for Monday, May 13th in Newtown will be filmed, and will tackle hard questions that have been ignored by mainstream media, despite the fact that there are 22 international regulatory agency warnings that have been issues on psychiatric drugs citing effects of mania, hostility, aggression, violence and even homicidal ideation.

Ablechild has a pending APPEAL in the State of Connecticut for the release of the medical and toxicology records of the latest school shooter in the mass murder suicides that are plaguing our nation. Ablechild will host an open discussion on mental health, informed consent, bridging the data to save lives with an open community discussion. The forum will be filmed to share with other communities.

“This can happen anywhere and will sadly happen again if we don’t start linking the data together in an intelligent and meaningful way to protect public safety,” says Ablechild board member, Michael Montanaro, orthodontist with offices in Bridgeport, New Canaan, Shelton, and Westport, Connecticut. “During my recent visit to Newtown, it took my breath away to think of the human loss. This forum will help explain to this hard-hit community the importance of collecting the right information to help prevent senseless acts of violence in our communities.”

This friendly forum will allow for a calm, intelligent discussion to exchange knowledge on mental health safety and inspire educated action. As seating is limited, please RSVP in advance to Ablechild volunteer,

ABLECHILD URGES ADDING OVERMEDICATION OF CHILDREN IN STATE CARE TO GOVERNOR’S 2012 AGENDA

January 3rd, 2012 | Press Releases

Sheila Matthews
National Vice President
www.ablechild.org
(203) 966-8419

WESTPORT, CONN., JANUARY 3, 2012 – Ablechild co-founder Sheila Matthews will brief Connecticut State Healthcare Advocate Victoria Veltri today on the organization’s research into the over-prescribing of psychotropic drugs to children in foster care.

The parents’ rights organization is a sitting member of the Connecticut Behavioral Health Committee that reports directly to Governor Malloy. In today’s meeting, Matthews will share data from last month’s ABC News 20/20 report, which AbleChild helped develop. The show provided a first look at a new Government Accountability Report that found:

  • Foster children were prescribed psychotropic drugs at rates nearly five times higher than non-foster children.
  • More than a quarter of foster children were being prescribed at least one psychiatric drug.
  • Hundreds of foster children received five or more psychiatric drugs at the same time, despite no evidence that this is safe or effective.

The meeting’s agenda includes a report on the $29,766,625,000 spent on psychiatric services by Connecticut’s Department of Children and Families, and AbleChild research showing how making educational, language and vision and hearing/speech solutions available can cut costs while enabling true informed consent for parents. “The most important thing Connecticut can do now is to break the monopoly on psychiatric treatment,” Matthews says. “Medication shouldn’t be the first option addressing behavioral or learning issues and it certainly shouldn’t be the only one.”

In a November briefing with Malloy’s legislative aide, Michael Christ, Matthews also pressed for action on Proposed Bill 5007. If passed, the landmark legislation would require the state to inform parents of their rights regarding diagnosis and treatment of behavioral and mental health disorders in children.

Since 2005, Proposed Bill 5007 has remained stalled in the Connecticut Legislative Education Committee subject to reintroduction by long-time committee chair, State Representative Andy Fleischmann. Matthews says, “It’s extremely frustrating that no action has been taken on this bill for over five years while special-interest and industry-backed legislation not only moves through committees rapidly, its backers have been given fast-track access to the legislative process itself.”

Malloy is preparing his 2012 agenda, which will be announced shortly before the legislature convenes in February. “Ablechild is pleased to support Governor Malloy as he sets his course for the year ahead,” says Matthews. “Connecticut was the first state to prohibit schools from recommending the use of psychotropic drugs, three years before it became federal law. We hope Connecticut will continue to show leadership through best-practice guidelines that protect its most vulnerable residents.”

About AbleChild
AbleChild is a nationally recognized nonprofit organization dedicated to parents, caregivers, and children’s rights alike. The organization is a clearinghouse for objective information regarding ADD, ADHD, and other behavioral issues. All services AbleChild provides are free to the public. To learn more, visit www.ablechild.org.

Billion Dollar Drug Company Law Firm Restructures Connecticut Welfare System

March 10th, 2011 | Press Releases

Bob Fiddaman and Sheila Matthews
sheila@ablechild.org
(203) 594-1700

For some time now, Sheila Matthews has been suspicious about her home state of Connecticut’s treatment of its most vulnerable children. As a mother of two children and co-founder of AbleChild, her instincts led her to scrutinize the dubious relationships among Connecticut’s Department of Children and Family Services [DCF], the pharmaceutical industry and a billion dollar law firm who has defended the likes of Pfizer Inc and Merck & Co., among others.

Sheila’s investigation has led her on a journey that links a non-profit children?s advocacy group, with assets over $15 million [2009] with nationally-renowned mass tort and class action defense law firms, to the Connecticut DCF – an $865 million bureaucracy, as described by the Connecticut Mirror.

The Connecticut DCF serves approximately 36,000 children and 16,000 families across its four Mandate Areas:

1.Child welfare;

2.Children’s behavioral health;

3.Juvenile Services; and

4.Prevention.

Sheila’s AbleChild has been questioning the Connecticut DCF since 2003, when AbleChild demanded that the Connecticut DCF immediately ban the use of the antidepressant Paxil in its treatment of mental disorders after multiple studies confirmed Paxil increased the risk of suicide in children and adolescents. This was more than a year prior to America’s Food & Drug Association (FDA) announcement that all antidepressants, including Paxil, should bear a black box warning regarding this suicide risk. AbleChild was disturbed that children in state custody were being prescribed this dangerous psychotropic medication. AbleChild’s public pressure paid off, and the Connecticut DCF deemed Paxil unsafe for children and adolescents, and according to the DCF drug approval list, Paxil has not been approved for use in over eight (8) years.

In August 2003, less than one month later, AbleChild reported that the commissioner of the Connecticu DCF held a ‘behind closed doors’ meeting with Glaxo officials. This meeting was reported by the Associated Press, who wrote:

The maker of the anti-depressant Paxil plans to meet this week with Connecticut officials, weeks after the State stopped using the drug to treat young people in its care.

GlaxoSmithKline, a British pharmaceutical company, is sending its regional medical director and a medical team to meet with officials from the Department of Children and Families. [Source]

Despite repeated requests from AbleChild, the Connecticut DCF refused to inform the public what was discussed at this secret meeting.

Eight years later, Sheila and AbleChild continue to raise concerns and investigate potential wrongdoings and conflicts within the Connecticut DCF. Last month, in February 2011, Sheila attended a meeting sponsored by the Connecticut Behavioral Health Partnership [CBHP], where its medical director, Dr Steven Kant, presented the Husky Behavioral Pharmacy Data. The CBHP is a state vendor that provides mental health services to DCF children. These services are paid, in part, by the State-run insurance program, HUSKY. Incredibly the pharmacy data presentation showed that dangerous psychotropic drugs, like Paxil, are still being prescribed to thousands of children and adolescents. In fact, the Pharmacy Data presentation showed that the HUSKY program, financed by taxpayer dollars, paid drug companies over $60 million for psychotropic drugs for Connecticut’s children and adolescents in 2009 alone – many of which are not approved by the FDA for use in the pediatric population and all of which carry the most serious warning possible regarding the risk of suicide.

According to the pharmacy data presentation: [Which can be downloaded as a Powerpoint presentation HERE]

More than 50% of HUSKY Youth Behavioral med utilizers are on stimulants.
Close to 30% of HUSKY Youth Behavioral med utilizers are on antipsychotics.

The pharmacy data also revealed the following:

Most Frequently Used Behavioral Meds for DCF-Involved Youth

Medications for ADHD

  • Ritalin (10%)
  • Adderall (5%)
  • Vyvanse (4%)
  • Strattera (3%)

Atypical Antipsychotics

  • Abilify (11%)
  • Risperdol (10%)
  • Seroquel (8%)
  • Anti-anxiety
  • Hydroxyzine (2.5%)

Antidepressants

  • Prozac (4.5%)
  • Zoloft (4%)
  • Zyban (3%)
  • Desyrel (2.5%)
  • Celexa (2%)

Mood Stabilizers

  • Lithum (3%)
  • Depakote (3%)
  • Lamictal (2.5%)

Curiously, none of the above medications are on the Connecticut DCF list of approved/unapproved drugs listed in itsDCF PMAC document.

With this in mind, Sheila Matthews contacted Dr Steven Kant and inquired as to whether any of the above drugs were approved by the Connecticut DCF for use in children.

Dr Kant replied:

… the answer to your question is not that straight forward.. . . Medications may be indicated by age and/or by specific treatment needs so it is not either a simply ?yes? or ?no?. Also, some medications may have the age indication but for a totally different condition, such as anti epileptic condition. . .Also FDA indications are static, they do not change over time though medical practice is constantly evolving…

Contradicting the very document that lists Connecticut’s approved and unapproved drugs, a “check-off” list that verifies the status of medications, Dr Kant replied, “I don?t think a ?check off? for each medication would work in terms of verifying their status.”

With such an ambiguous response from Dr. Kant, we found the DCF Approved Medication List on the Internet. This particular version was revised in 2009.

It appears that the DCF has approved drugs in children that have not been approved for children by the FDA. In fact, the FDA has issued multiple advisories and alerts since 2004 about the increased risk of suicide in children, adolescents and young adults up to age 25 who are treated with psychotropic medications.

And while Fluoxetine (Prozac) is the only medication approved by the FDA for use in treating depression in children ages 8 and older, it still carries a black box warning regarding the risk of suicide.

In contrast, the DCF seems to be ignoring the conclusions of the FDA. Its list of approved medication in children and adolescents include every single antidepressant except paroxetine [Paxil] and venlafaxine [Effexor].

  • Forest Lab?s citalopram [Celexa] – APPROVED
  • Forest Lab?s escitalopram [Lexapro] – APPROVED
  • Solvay Pharmaceuticals? fluvoxamine [Luvox] – APPROVED
  • Pfizer’s sertraline [Zoloft] – APPROVED
  • GlaxoSmithKline’s bupropion [Wellbutrin -also marketed as an anti-smoking cessation drug under the name of Zyban] – APPROVED [1]

Alarmingly, the DCF has produced a guide entitled, “MEDICATIONS USED FOR BEHAVIORAL & EMOTIONAL DISORDERS – A GUIDE FOR PARENTS, FOSTER PARENTS, FAMILIES, YOUTH, CAREGIVERS, GUARDIANS, AND SOCIAL WORKERS” where it writes, “Most of the side effects from the medications are mild and will lessen or go away after the first few weeks of treatment.” The guide also points out possible side effects of SSRI’s/SNRI’s:

SSRIs and SNRIs:

  • Headache
  • Nervousness
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Weight Loss

One of the most dangerous side effects of these medications, suicidal thoughts/ideation, doesn’t even make the 5 bullet-pointed list. The Guide does, however, add the following: “Watch for worsening of depression and thoughts about suicide.”

The DCF Approved Medication List writes:

“The DCF Approved Medication List is a list of psychotropic medications that has been carefully established by the Psychotropic Medication Advisory Committee, a group of DCF and community professionals.”

Sheila has since investigated other advocacy groups that were concerned about the off-label prescribing of psychiatric medications to youths in state custody. This is where she stumbled upon Children’s Rights, a non-profit charity based in New York City.

In 2005, Children’s Rights employed ten (10) attorneys and a staff of 31. It claims to use its expertise to change child welfare red tape and scrutinize failing systems. If the child welfare system fails to respond, Children’s Rights files a lawsuit. If successful, it enforces reform and then monitors its implementation
.

In 1989, Children’s Rights had in fact filed a suit against William O’Neill and the Connecticut state Department of Children and Youth Services [DCYS].

The suit charged that an overworked and underfunded DCYS failed to provide services including abuse and neglect investigations, adoption, foster care, mental health care, caseloads and staffing. The case has been pending for over twenty (20) years, and while there have been numerous arguments that DCYS should be more inclusive or has failed to provide certain services, the issue of massive off-label prescription of psychotropic medications has never been brought to the court?s attention.

Children’s Rights is chaired by Alan C. Myers, a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom, a billion dollar law firm which represents the pharmaceutical industry in mass torts and class actions. Myers is also co-head of the firm’s REIT Group [Real Estate Investment Trust].

Also, listed on the Children’s Rights website are individuals and law firms that have served as co-counsel on Children’s Rights’ legal campaigns to reform America’s failing child welfare systems, including:

  • Missouri – Shook Hardy & Bacon – Eli Lilly Co. and Forest Labs, defended the original Wesbeker Prozac trial in Kentucky and still defend Prozac, Celexa and Lexapro.
  • New Jersey – Drinker Biddle & Reath – GlaxoSmithKline attorneys – defended Paxil as local counsel in Philadelphia cases.
  • Oklahoma – Kaye Scholer LLP – provides work in Pharmaceutical Products Liability defense and employs an attorney who was former General Counsel of Pfizer, Inc.

A particular success for Skadden Arps occurred in 2010 when it secured a summary judgement ruling for Pfizer Inc. in a suit filed by two insurance companies who sought $200 million in damages for Pfizer’s predecessors alleged “off-label” marketing of its epilepsy drug, Neurontin.

Furthermore, in February 2011, Skadden Arps secured the dismissal of over 200 cases in a multi-district litigation pending against their client, Pfizer Inc. The plaintiffs had alleged injuries related to the use of Pfizer’s anti-epilepsy drug, Neurontin.

Neurontin, the generic version is called gabapentin, is prescribed by psychiatrists for a variety of “off-label” indications. It is often tried as an alternative treatment, when patients are unable to tolerate the side effect of more proven mood stabilizers such as lithium. [2]

Gabapentin has also been associated with an increased risk of suicidal acts or violent deaths.

This is a drug that has been known to cause behavioral problems, which include unstable emotions, hostility, aggression, hyperactivity or lack of concentration.

Children dependent on child welfare systems have rights and, according to its web page, Children’s Rights is dedicated to protecting them.

It should come as no surprise that the site fails to discuss the off-label prescription of non-approved psychotropic medications to children and adolescents, unless this falls under the ‘abuse and neglect’ category?

If Children’s Rights’ motive was to accomplish fixing the child welfare system then why hasn’t it investigated why thousands of children under state care are prescribed “off-label” psychiatric drugs? With a partner in a billion dollar pro-pharmaceutical law firm as its Chair, and supporters who also defend pharmaceutical products, is it safe to assume that its stance on the drugging of children is one that is being ignored?

Children’s Rights push to remove abused and neglected children into safety.

The basic question always comes down to trust. When power, money and a good cause is mixed, it is imperative to check motives. We would be less of a society if we didn’t check out all the facts. Abuse and neglect exist, always has and always will, but society is obligated to ensure those victims are not transformed into “good cause victims” and expensed out. There is no doubt we have a right to question the system and those who claim to promote change for the good of the children within it.

Children’s Rights Chairman, Alan C. Myers, Medical Director of Connecticut Behavioral Health Partnership, Steven Kant and the Connecticut Department of Children and Families may get their knickers in a twist with regard to an advocate of Ablechild and a blogger from Birmingham, UK questioning their motives but hey, what’s the downside of shinning a light on all these players, be they good or bad players?

Sheila?s concern is that Children’s Rights with its multi-million dollar budget and with the help of its billion dollar law firms, will continue to ignore the risks of these unapproved and dangerous medications, under the guise of helping our nation?s most vulnerable children. The question remains: how can the lawyers who defend pscyhotropic drugs also be the same lawyers who advocate for abused and neglected children to get into state welfare programs which place these children on the same drugs? The conflict is clear and obvious – and it poses an unmistakable danger to children who truly need our help.

[1] Bupropion [also known as Wellbutrin, Zyban] is a non-tricyclic antidepressant. [2] Gabapentin

Bob Fiddaman is the author of the Seroxat Sufferers blog and the book, “The evidence, however, is clear… the Seroxat scandal.” Chipmunka Publishing.

Sheila Matthews is the co-founder of AbleChild and a mother of two children.

Federal Court Decision May Place More Children At Risk

September 28th, 2010 | Press Releases

Sheila Matthews
National Vice President
www.ablechild.org
sheila@ablechild.org
(203) 966-8419

Last month, in Juan F., et al. v. M. Jodi Rell, et al., the United States District Court in the District of Connecticut held that Connecticut’s Department of Family Services (“DCF”) could not suspend new intakes of children into its Voluntary Services Program (the “Program”). According to the Court, the decision to suspend new intakes would unilaterally cut off the service lifeline for vulnerable, at-risk children. The Court explained that any suspension of intakes would leave children at imminent risk of irreparable harm, and place the defendants in violation of their settlement obligations. Ironically, a point often forgotten, is the fact that the original plaintiff/child in the case, Juan F., died while under State care.

The Court ultimately concluded that children accepted into the Program must be accepted by the State because these “at-risk” children were part of the original settlement in the lawsuit. AbleChild addressed the flawed intake methods in a friend of the court brief. The concern of AbleChild is that many of the children identified for the Program are not “at-risk.” The real danger is that some of these children, who are not “at-risk,” will now be put into harm’s way by taking them away from their families without cause and forcing them to ingest dangerous psychotropic
medications.

Unfortunately, in trying to help more “at risk” children, the Court ignored the State’s current intake methods for determining which children are truly “at risk.” Often times, the State concludes a child is “at risk” without any justification. Children are taken away from their families on the basis of a single phone call into a “hotline” and even without the filing of a police incident report. When this happens, innocent children are unjustly put at risk, and the child’s family is forced to prove to a court that their child is not in danger.

AbleChild appreciates the Court’s concern regarding the well-being of all of Connecticut’s children; however, AbleChild also recognizes that children who enter DCF, regardless of whether the children are “at-risk,” are typically diagnosed with a mental illness and treated with psychotropic drugs. Ablechild believes the parties, and the Court, should make a commitment to first insuring that no child is unnecessarily taken away from their family.

ABLECHILD SAYS THAT MISDIAGNOSIS OF A MILLION CHILDREN UNJUSTIFIABLE AND URGES PARENTS TO GAIN RISKS OF TESTING, LABELING AND DRUGGING

August 19th, 2010 | Press Releases

Diane Nahabedian
dianenahabedian@yahoo.com
(617) 943-3732

Over 4.5 million children nationwide have been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD according to a study says an article “Youngest in Class get ADHD Label” published this week in USA Today . Nearly 1 million children may have been misdiagnosed because they were the youngest in their class.

Sheila Matthews, co-founder of AbleChild in Connecticut says, “it is unjustifiable to misdiagnose a million children with ADHD. Psychiatry claims ADHD is a serious disease like cancer, and our schools have become a marketing distribution channel for this false data. The “experts” have compared ADHD to having diabetes and touts the cure as the need for powerful dangerous mind altering drugs. Imagine if a million children were diagnosed with cancer or diabetes and underwent needless treatments. Ablechild wants to know what compensation is planned for these children and their families? In addition, when is the psychiatric industry going to tell the truth about ADHD to parents, and the fact that the diagnosis is not based in any real science, and is not a disease like cancer or a condition like diabetes. It is subjective!”

Patricia Weathers, another co-founder of AbleChild, who has testified before a Congressional subcommittee regarding the use of drugs in the schools explains, “when parents are confronted by a teacher or school psychologist regarding issues like ADHD they often feel frightened and alone, and pressured to drug their children. Frequently, parents recognize their child’s challenging behavior as normal, and may not want to subject their child to the serious risks caused by psychotropic drugs.” Weathers herself was threatened with child protective services as a result of a charge of medical neglect waged at her by her son’s school when she took him off psychiatric drugs that caused him a wide array of side effects.

Matthews and Weathers continuously urge all parents to remember that they are their child’s best advocate, and know their own child best. “We urge all parents to gain an understanding of the real risks of psychological and behavioral testing, labeling and drugging,’ says Matthews.

Unfortunately, school officials place tremendous pressure on parents to not only allow the school to conduct psychological testing on their children but to drug them as well. Parents may not realize that these tests are being used many times as the sole basis for the diagnosis of behavioral issues.

AbleChild, a 501C3 established in the state of New York, works with a team of parents, educators, attorneys and non-pharmaceutical-associated psychologists and psychiatrists who all have experience with the risks of psychotropic drugs and non-drug alternatives. AbleChild is a clearinghouse for objective information regarding ADD, ADHD, and other behavioral issues. All services that they render are free to the public.

The parents who founded this extraordinary organization and all those who work with it have personally suffered battles with their schools to have their children tested and drugged.

“Again,” says Matthews, “drugging a child today may result in serious consequences for that child’s future health.” Weathers adds, “if any parent is confronted with the issue of ADD, ADHD, or other behavioral issues that affect their child, please call us. We will give information that can help each parent make an informed decision. We are not a medical group, but a group of concerned parents who want everyone to make healthy decisions for the children they love.”

Please visit AbleChild at www. ablechild.org and become a friend on our Facebook page, or call us at 203-594-1700.

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