The Arrest of Sandy Hook Killer’s Psychiatrist Raises a Host of Issues

May 8th, 2016 | Breaking News

Dr. Paul Fox, the primary psychiatrist for Sandy Hook shooter, Adam Lanza, has been charged with three felony counts of sexual assault on a then 19 year-old patient that reportedly occurred back in 2010-2011. Getting to Fox’s arrest has been a complicated journey, raising a host of issues that, frankly, need to be addressed.

First the original investigation, regarding accusations of sexual assault, was conducted four years ago in March of 2012 by the State of Connecticut Department of Public Health. During that investigation several important issues came to light, one of which involved Fox’s psychiatric drug prescribing practices.

According to the investigative file, over the course of one year, Fox prescribed what the victim called a “dynamic cocktail of psychiatric drugs.” The “constantly changing mix” of psychiatric drugs included: Ativan (anxiety), Saphris (bi-polar disorder), Abilify (schizophrenia), Nuvigil (sleep apnea, narcolepsy), Prozac (Major-depression, OCD), Zyprexa (Schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder), Xanax, and Vistaril (anxiety, tension). Vistaril also is used as a sedative and for general anesthesia.

After reviewing the above cocktail of psychiatric drugs, one can only wonder how anyone could even remotely believe the victim participated in “consensual” sex with Fox, especially in light of the victim’s comment that she was “usually drugged up out of (her) mind…” That is an understatement, and begs the question: if Fox is drugging his patient’s with cocktails of drugs, was Adam Lanza a victim of Fox’s prolific drugging?  How many different psychiatric diagnoses did Fox subjectively bestow on Adam Lanza and what kind of psychiatric “dynamic cocktail” was Lanza prescribed while a “patient” under Fox’s “care.”

Tough to know. The State refuses to release Lanza’s mental health records or autopsy/toxicology results and Fox claims to have little memory of Lanza. Fox also claims to have destroyed his medical records prior to his 2012 departure to New Zealand.   Apparently law enforcement never thought it important, at least, to review Fox’s billing records, which Fox claims still existed in December of 2012. So how about now? Has Fox retained the billing records of his patients and will law enforcement finally look at them?

This is an important question. When Fox surrendered his medical license in July 2012 he also agreed (as a condition of surrender) to adhere to the records retention laws of Connecticut (19a-14-44). Fox was required to retain all medical and billing records for patients up to seven years after the last date of “treatment.” If one accepts that Fox last saw Lanza in 2007, then Fox admits he destroyed Lanza’s “treatment” records two years too early. And, of course, one can only assume that the records of the alleged victim(s) of Fox’s reported sexual assault also have been destroyed.

Furthermore, one has to wonder what responsibility the Department of Health has when it comes to alleged sexual predators masquerading as doctors and working as counselors in the state’s universities. According to the investigation, the State Department of Health concluded that “review of the documentation identified exchanges between the patient and the respondent that exceed the boundaries of a professional doctor, patient relationship.”

But has the public health and welfare been served by allowing the doctor to simply surrender his license? Should the State be required to, at a minimum, report serious sexual assault allegations to local law enforcement?

And one simply cannot ignore what appears to be another questionable patient “treatment” problem which has arisen in New Zealand, where Fox fled to practice psychiatric counseling. Fox reportedly “treated” Nicky Stevens, a young man who died while under psychiatric care in New Zealand.

The questions regarding that case are too numerous to even consider. But one cannot help but question the obvious. If Fox surrendered his license to practice medicine and prescribe drugs in July of 2012, how was he allowed to practice psychiatric counseling and prescribe psychiatric drugs in New Zealand?

Additionally, Danbury State’s Attorney, Stephen Sedensky, will be prosecuting Fox’s case, because he tells Ablechild that the sexual assault charges are “the strongest.”   But Ablechild cannot help but wonder why Sedensky, who, according to the Sandy Hook investigation, knew about the allegations of Fox’s sexual assault, the failure of Fox to retain his records and the questionable psychiatric drugging back in 2012, didn’t initiate an investigation of Fox at that time. The information, that was available in 2012, hasn’t changed.

These are important questions because there are victims of what appear to be blatant psychiatric abuses. These are important questions because, in the immediate aftermath of Sandy Hook, Connecticut lawmakers passed sweeping, costly, mental health legislation without having any information to warrant the increased mental health services.

In fact, based on what has been revealed in the Department of Health investigation about Dr. Paul Fox, Adam Lanza’s last known primary psychiatrist, it would appear that an investigation into psychiatric practices in the state were actually needed. And if ever there was an argument for release of Lanza’s mental health records for the five years leading up to the shooting, it doesn’t get any better than simply reviewing the long-known unquestionably abusive mental health services provided by Fox.

 

 

 

 

 

Arrest of Psychiatrist Who Treated Adam Lanza May Lead to Answers in Murder Investigation

April 25th, 2016 | Breaking News

According to the Hartford Courant, “Brookfield detectives traveled to Paul Fox’s residence in Peaks Island, Maine, to take him into custody Wednesday with the assistance of Homeland Security Agents. Fox was charged with three counts of second-degree sexual assault.”

This is news. The last information that was known about Fox was that he was living and working in New Zealand. It would be of interest to know when, exactly, Fox returned to the states and whether he has been practicing psychiatry in Maine.

But this arrest, now, seems odd. After all, Fox’s alleged sexual assault problems have been public record since at least July 2012. So why the sudden interest in Dr. Paul Fox?

The Hartford Courant broke the story of Fox “voluntarily” surrendering his license to practice medicine in Connecticut and New York, before departing the country for New Zealand in 2012.

And upon learning of Fox’s position as Lanza’s primary psychiatrist, AbleChild filed a FOIA for the investigative file on Fox’s alleged sexual assault, along with a FOIA for the mental health, toxicology and autopsy records of Adam Lanza, (AbleChild vs. Chief Medical Examiner).

The investigation into Fox and the allegations of sexual assault, conducted by Diane Cybulski, Supervising Nurse Consultant, Health Quality and Safety Branch of the Department of Public Health, included not only alleged sexual misconduct, but also several other issues, including the distribution of controlled substances according to Exhibit P, (CVS Pharmacy Records), questionable billing practices and patient records retention.

For example, according to the records, during Fox’s “treatment” of his 19-year old patient, not only was Fox prescribing numerous – “three or four” – psychiatric mind-altering drugs, but the psychiatrist also was providing the patient with free drug samples (page 69 of report), and the patient’s mother reported that, “she was turning into a zombie.”

Fox billed the mother’s insurance for the patient’s drug “treatment.” But when the psychiatrist and the patient “became friends” Fox no longer billed for “counseling services.”(page 68 of report).

As for state records retention, according to the Courant, State police detectives investigating the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School talked with Fox in New Zealand, where he was living at the time. Fox told detectives in a Dec. 17, 2012 telephone interview that he had destroyed any records he had of his treatment of Lanza (Investigation document 00260339 -Book 7).  Based on the investigative records and state law, Fox last saw Lanza in 2007, making the destruction of the records two years too soon.

Fox did, however, advise law enforcement officials that he had retained his patient billing records. One can only wonder why investigators failed to follow this lead, as billing records offer a great deal of information about a patient’s treatment.

But, regardless of sloppy investigating, Fox’s arrest raises many issues beyond the alleged sexual assault, including the following:

*          Fox provided counseling services at a state university. Was Western Connecticut State University aware of Dr. Fox’s sexual relationships with students at the university and, if yes, did the university file a report with the Department of Public Health, any state oversight agency, or even law enforcement?

*          When information on Dr. Fox’s alleged sexual assault finally was brought to the attention of the State Department of Public Health, why was Fox given what can only be described as a “sweetheart” deal?

*          Alleged sexual abuse is not only an ethical issue, but also a criminal matter, so did the State Department of Public Health have an obligation to alert law enforcement?

*          Now that Fox has returned to the states, and clearly under the watchful eye of law enforcement, will Sandy Hook investigators request Fox’s billing records for psychiatric “treatment” of Adam Lanza?

*          Why did the state wait a year before releasing the name of Adam Lanza’s treating psychiatrist?

*          Did Adam Lanza, while under the psychiatric care of Dr. Fox or while a patient at Yale Child Study Center, participate in a clinical trial?

*          Could Nancy Lanza’s notes, now being withheld by the state, provide additional information about the treatment Adam Lanza received while under Fox’s care that might expose further violations of FDA clinical trial record retention laws?

Dr. Fox’s reemergence is odd, but it has ignited a renewed interest in the specific mental health services he provided to Sandy Hook shooter, Adam Lanza.

There still are too many unanswered questions about Lanza’s mental health history, and Dr. Fox’s return should be taken by Sandy Hook investigators as an opportunity to finally get some documentable information from, at minimum, Fox’s billing records.

Fox’s case also provides an opportunity for the state of Connecticut to conduct a review of the way medical ethics violations are handled and, perhaps, even establishing real consequences for egregious behavior by those in the medical profession.

Fox finally is being held responsible for the alleged sexual assault that lost him his medical license and, apparently, forced his swift departure from the U.S. Only time will tell if state oversight agencies and law enforcement officials will take advantage of the opportunity presented in Fox’s return.

 

 

 

Milford, CT School Sued for Student’s Mental Health Treatment Prior to Murder

March 17th, 2016 | Breaking News

According to the Newtown Patch, a recently filed lawsuit, regarding the stabbing of Maren Sanchez alleges that “Maren reported to the high school guidance department her concern that Christopher Plaskon was emotionally disturbed and was threatening to commit suicide or acts of serious self-harm by cutting himself with a knife, and that she believed it was important for high school personnel to help Plaskon, then 16, to prevent him from engaging in potentially violent conduct dangerous to himself or to others.”

With the ever-increasing number of school shootings across the nation, one must wonder if this lawsuit may be the tipping point for a national discussion on schools involvement in arbitrarily identifying students with alleged psychiatric disorders and recommending mental health “treatments,” known to be associated with an increased risks of suicide and violence?

The National Association of School Psychology, NASP, is responsible for the information that is supplied to the school psychologists that function within the school and evaluates and identifies students for eligibility for special education.  A common factor in all mass shootings and stabbings committed by students is the failure of the school system or institution to release the mental health records of the perpetrator.

The mental health records, which would reveal whether psychiatric drugs were involved during the incident, more than the choice of weapon, is the critical information needed to identify contributing factors that may help to eliminate this massive public health crisis.  Without the information contained within the mental health records, the public, as well as our lawmakers, cannot write effective legislation to protect students, families, as well as all consumers.

Is the NASP a monopoly with strong conflicts of interests that relies on privacy to shield their role in the increased risks of violence and suicide plaguing our education system?

According to the NASP services listed below, and their claim regarding the school psychologists’ unique qualifier, this lawsuit provides the public with a unique opportunity to initiate a conversation about how much power this association is given and the risks it creates for our children. After all, even NASP knows there is no known abnormality in the brain that is any alleged psychiatric disorder, making these diagnoses suspect.

Nevertheless, the NASP writes, “School psychologists are uniquely qualified members of school teams that support students’ ability to learn and teachers’ ability to teach. They apply expertise in mental health, learning, and behavior, to help children and youth succeed academically, socially, behaviorally, and emotionally.”   So, the NASP basically does it all.

Data collection and analysis
Assessment
Progress monitoring
School-wide practices to promote learning
Resilience and risk factors
Consultation and collaboration
Academic/learning interventions
Mental health interventions
Behavioral interventions
Instructional support
Prevention and intervention services
Special education services
Crisis preparedness, response, and recovery
Family-school-community collaboration
Diversity in development and learning
Research and program evaluation
Professional ethics, school law, and systems”

Is this safe? After all, it is near impossible to eliminate their involvement with a student who attends the public education system.  The NASP political influence on lawmaking only grows stronger each year.  A student has a very difficult time to refuse psychiatric evaluations and still receive special education help and is not provided informed consent on the subjective nature of their assessment tools – basically opinions of behavior.

The Milford Lawsuit is interesting in that the family seems to have chosen the right target – the school’s involvement with the perpetrator’s mental health treatment.

The State missed this opportunity in the Sandy Hook mass murder to investigate the link between mental health “treatment” and the mass shooting and to hold those treating Lanza accountable. In fact, the State used the killings to push for more mental health “treatment,” based on no evidence that Adam Lanza lacked access to school-based or community-based mental health services or that those services were not the best that money could buy. The mental health billing records, autopsy, and toxicology of Adam Lanza were never released to the public, despite AbleChild vs. Chief Medical Examiner Freedom of Information request.

What Happened to the First Amendment, Sandy Hook?

January 21st, 2016 | Press Releases

In response to Jacqueline Smith and her opinion of Professor James Tracy, two words immediately spring to mind: Toughen up. Strong reaction? Yes. But trampling on the First Amendment is serious and requires a strong response.

Smith claims that Professor Tracy doesn’t have a First Amendment right to “spew his nonsense.” There is no need to go any further in her rambling, disjointed piece. Smith simply does not understand that it is precisely this kind of “nonsense” that the Founding Fathers intended to protect.

Smith may not like, appreciate, or understand Professor Tracy’s thoughts and motives, but he has a right – and some would argue a duty – to critical thinking, and a right to publically espouse those thoughts, however repugnant they may be to Smith’s, and others, delicate sensitivities.

The problem with Smith’s thought pattern, as it pertains to the First Amendment, is that she believes that if the speech is hurtful or offensive to another then it simply is unacceptable and constitutionally unprotected. That’s not how the First Amendment works, as made clear by Smith’s own ugly diatribe directed at Professor Tracy.

Let’s not forget that the Founding Fathers believed that open dialogue was so important that they made it the FIRST Amendment, not the sixth or seventh, etc.   More importantly, that freedom of speech is unabridged and there is no caveat that the speech cannot hurt someone’s feelings.

Smith’s attack on Professor Tracy’s Constitutional rights, ultimately, is due to the Professor’s questioning of the official version of events at Sandy Hook. While Smith claims her concern is that Professor Tracy crossed the First Amendment line by making a request of Lenny Pozner, in reality, anyone remotely familiar with this important case, is fully aware that Smith’s version of events was less than unbiased.

The bigger question, though, is why questioning the official version is so offensive to an alleged “newsperson?” Professor Tracy is far from the only person raising issues about Sandy Hook, as there literally are millions of websites dedicated to questioning the events at Sandy Hook and, one would think, many more millions who read them. Surely Smith is not suggesting that all of these people are not entitled to their views on the matter and must be silenced should they dare speak out publically.

What occurred at Sandy Hook has serious repercussions for not only the families of the victims and others associated with the tragedy, but everyone who is subjected to the legislative policy that has come from the incident.

As Smith well knows, the Connecticut Legislature passed sweeping, costly mental health legislation a full year prior to the release of the investigation. In other words, the legislative action was taken without full knowledge of the facts. Nevertheless, the good folks of Connecticut must not only pay for, but live by, those emotional, not fact-based, decisions. By anyone’s standards, this cannot be called responsible or thoughtful legislating.

Ablechild, a parent organization fighting for informed consent rights as they pertain to psychiatric diagnosing and psychiatric drugs, is intimately aware of the difficulties surrounding the gathering of information about Adam Lanza’s mental health records.

Despite Ablechild filing a FOIA to obtain Lanza’s mental health, toxicology and autopsy records, the state refused to publically release this information when Assistant State Attorney, Patrick Kwanashie, stated disclosure of Adam Lanza’s records “can cause a lot of people to stop taking their medications.”

These records may have provided some insight into Lanza’s actions. But to this day, despite a lengthy and costly investigation, no information about Lanza’s mental health for the five years leading up to the incident has been made publically available. Frankly, there is no information publically available that Lanza did, or did not, receive mental health services in the five years leading up to the incident.   These facts did not stop poorly thought out legislative measures from being rammed down the throats of the citizens of Connecticut.

This is just one example of the problems surrounding this incident. Anyone who read the 6700-page investigation knows there are many more. But, beyond all of this, the issue remains the right to publically discuss any, and all, issues surrounding the official version of events at Sandy Hook regardless of whose feelings may be hurt.

No, Editor Smith, you do not get to decide whose voice is worthy. You do not get to judge whose First Amendment rights are more important.  You may not like the voices you hear, or how they are used. They may be distasteful and hurtful, but every American has a right to that voice. It’s quite possible that Professor Tracy finds your opinion hurtful, and he may even think that you are writing it to purposefully harass him, but even he would have to agree that you are entitled to your damning words.

 

 

AbleChild Responds to Governor Malloy’s Clown Car Comment on Sandy Hook Legislation

January 6th, 2016 | Press Releases

“How many people can get out of a clown car at the same time?” Malloy asked. Dear Governor these are serious times with serious policy implications.

AbleChild working on behalf of the public made every attempt to be included in the legislative process in the aftermath of the murders in Newtown, Connecticut our access to this process was repeatedly denied.

Governor Malloy appointed a Sandy Hook Advisory Commission (SHAC) to review and make policy recommendations. These meetings were not open to the public and our submitted testimony on increased informed consent for the mental health consumer and implementation of the MEDWATCH program, the FDA consumer adverse drug reporting system, was never considered upon repeated submission.

AbleChild followed legislative protocol on every level. Senator Bye’s office refused our recommendations outright and our testimony was lost and was excluded from the public record until a general law committee clerk helped us restore it onto the public record.

The State’s police report illustrated the fact that Nancy Lanza attempted to report an adverse drug event from Celexa (citalopram) an antidepressant in the group of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) to Yale Child Study Center where her son was provided “mental health treatment.”

According to the State’s police report, Yale Child Study Center failed to advise Nancy Lanza to report the adverse event to the FDA MEDWATCH reporting system, instead labeled Nancy Lanza as non-compliant. AbleChild wants to change this conversation for the consumer.

The Sandy Hook advisory panel was comprised of “stakeholders” according to the Governor. The public was not considered “stakeholders” despite the fact the system is funded by taxpayers. However, Adam’s mental health providers, Danbury Hospital and Yale Child Study Center, were participants.

The commission’s recommendations were to increase forced mental health “treatments” just shy of forced medication.

The legislative circus continued as the public watched elected officials travel to the remote town of Sandy Hook to hold a televised closed legislative session for Sandy Hook residences only. A lottery system was implemented for entrance and the qualifier, Sandy Hook, Newtown residences only. The circus needs to be shutdown.

Mental Health First Aid, A $20 Million Price Tag for Compassion

December 2nd, 2015 | Press Releases

What are the odds Gary Scheppke, a member of the Marin County Board of Mental Health, would happen to be on the Golden Gate Bridge with his newly obtained “mental health first aid” certificate in hand to stop a person from jumping? According to the San Jose Mercury News the odds were pretty good, as explained in its article: A surge in federal funding for Mental Health First Aid could make it as popular as CPR.

Getting beyond the bizarre bridge encounter and Scheppke’s relationship with the Marin County Board of Mental Health, let’s take a look at the comparison the article draws to CPR and Mental Health First Aid and then the $20 million federally funded “certificate.”

According to the Mayo Clinic, “Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a lifesaving technique useful in many emergencies, including heart attack or near drowning, in which someone’s breathing or heartbeat has stopped. The American Heart Association recommends that everyone — untrained bystanders and medical personnel alike — begin CPR with chest compressions.”

The Mayo Staff continues, “It’s far better to do something than to do nothing at all if you’re fearful that your knowledge or abilities aren’t 100 percent complete. Remember, the difference between your doing something and doing nothing could be someone’s life.”

The Mental Health First Aid eight-hour course reportedly provides skills to individuals on how to identify symptoms of mental illness, such as depression and how and when to intervene. According to Discovery’s executive director, Kathy Chierton, the course provides interactive and role-playing exercises that help participants empathize with people with mental disorders, “Often, says Chierton, “it can take a decade from when the first symptoms of mental illness show up to when people receive treatment, so early intervention is crucial.”

Let’s remember, though, that there is no objective test for diagnosing any alleged mental disorder – no X-ray, blood work, CAT scan. The diagnosis is completely subjective, based on a set of criteria voted into existence by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). According to the former head of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Thomas Insel, the problem with diagnosing mental illness, “it lacks validity.”

Despite the fact that psychiatric diagnosing is based in neither science or medicine, millions of dollars continue to funnel into mental health services, which largely consists of prescribing dangerous mind-altering drugs – often causing the very behaviors they allegedly “treat.”

For example, the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, in which a mentally disturbed young man, Adam Lanza, killed 20 children and six adults was the rallying cry for President Obama to sign an executive order providing $20 million in federal funds for the Mental Health First Aid program.

However, according to the Connecticut state police investigation and the Connecticut Child Advocate’s “story” on Adam Lanza, from a very young age, Lanza received the best mental health money could buy. In fact according to the Hartford Courant report, the psychiatry department at Danbury Hospital performed mental health screening on Lanza and released him, concluding he was not a harm to himself or others. This is a clear indication that mental health screenings (diagnosing) are completely unreliable and, as NIMH Insel said, “lacks validity.”

It isn’t very often that someone can say they talked a person out of jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge but, according to San Jose Mercury News, Gary Scheppke, now that he has received the mental health first aid certificate, can identify mental illness when he sees it and act accordingly? Wow, that’s some miraculous training. Or, is it really just a case of one human being showing compassion to another. This compassion, though, comes with a $20 million price tag.

AbleChild’s 2015 Summer Intern

August 10th, 2015 | Press Releases

DSCN0016 (1)

Lindsay McIlmurray is AbleChild’s 2015 summer intern. Lindsay is a rising senior majoring in Psychology at The College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. She recently finished a junior year abroad program at The University of York in England and completed coursework in both research and application of psychological behavior and development. Lindsay aspires to become a clinical psychologist working with children and adolescents.

As Lindsay became more involved in research, she began to recognize the value of disclosing all information to patients and participants in behavioral health research studies. Lindsay believes her internship and association with AbleChild has greatly enhanced her understanding of informed consent and the importance it plays in the field of psychology.

 

Will Connecticut Lawmakers Fall for DCF’s Pathetic Vow to Reform Itself?

July 27th, 2015 | Blog

The agency that failed to give children and families basic human rights is asking for blind trust, once again, to reform themselves.

Lawmakers should not fall for this pathetic vow.  AbleChild is calling for specific laws to prevent this child abuse and disregard for human rights to continue.  The suggestions were provided to both political parties and will be posted on our website.

Our organization is working with both democrats and republicans to ensure for basic informed consent rights in mental health and to ensure the State provide alternatives to dangerous mind-alter psychiatric drugs currently being force fed to children mandated into state care.

This executive agency (DCF) has given the children in State care over to the behavioral health vendors (the behavioral health oversight committee).  Currently this “stacked vendor” committee reports outside the legislative process directly to the Connecticut Governor.  To allow DCF and the “stakeholder vendors” the ability to reform themselves is insane.  This committee’s oversight has been a complete and utter failure through both a Democrat and Republican Governorship.

It is time the people pass laws to prevent this abuse of power and protect children in State care.

http://ctmirror.org/2015/07/27/dcf-says-it-will-reduce-restraints-improve-clinical-care-at-juvenile-jails/

CT Parents’ Right Coalition to Discuss Opposition to Sandy Hook Advisory Commission’s Findings on Upcoming Radio Broadcast

July 16th, 2015 | Press Releases

Connecticut Parents’ Right Coalition (CPRC) members will discuss Sandy Hook Advisory Commission (SHAC) final report and questions surrounding the findings and their opposition to the recommendations.

(CPRC) was formed in response to legislation passed under “emergency rule” without public hearings in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook mass murder.

The (CPRC) Coalition includes 40,000 Connecticut parents and more than a dozen non-profit organizations.

Sheila Matthews of AbleChild will join Deborah Stevenson, a constitutional and education attorney and fellow member of the (CPRC) on the upcoming broadcast. Stevenson also spent ten years as a reporter and has appeared on several radio programs. In a recent interview, Stevenson described the goal of the (SHAC) recommendations to serve as a national model as ‘disturbing.’

This Saturday, July 18th at 5:30 PM Eastern Time on the Republic Broadcasting Network (RBN), Matthews and Stevenson will join Deana Spingola of Spingola Speaks.   The radio talk show focuses on current events, history, warfare, health issues, and other relevant topics.

Spingola is the author of “Screening Sandy Hook.” The book examines the role of psychiatric drugs in the school shooting incident and multiple other issues and theories.

 

Landmark Legislation: Consumer Protection MedWatch Phone Number Placed on Generic Prescription Drug Containers in Connecticut

July 15th, 2015 | Breaking News

For immediate release: July 15, 2015
Contact Sheila Matthews, Cofounder AbleChild (203) 253-0329
Westport, Connecticut

Landmark Legislation: Consumer Protection
MedWatch Phone Number Placed on Generic Prescription Drug Containers in Connecticut

AbleChild is pleased to announce the passage of Connecticut SB 28, a bill that makes it mandatory for all generic prescription drug containers to carry the 1-800 MedWatch telephone number. This is a first-in-the-nation legislative action to provide this important consumer information and a landmark win for consumers in Connecticut. In February of 2015, AbleChild proposed an amendment to SB 28, taking the unique opportunity to propose this very specific protection on behalf of the consumers.

MedWatch is a drug safety reporting system made available to consumers to allow direct reporting of Adverse Drug Events to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Information provided to MedWatch, by consumers, provides a unique tool to the FDA by giving the federal agency the ability to identify adverse reactions and monitor prescription drugs. The information collected about adverse reactions is used to determine if FDA action is needed on a specific drug.

According to the FDA, it receives information on less than 1% of the actual adverse drug reactions (ADRs) from the consumers. Prescription drugs are currently responsible for killing more people annually than illegal drugs, and according to Tom Friden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “It’s a big problem and getting worse.” Furthermore, according to the Medical Journal of Medicine, prescription drugs are responsible for 291 deaths every day.

Representative David Baram of Bloomfield, co-chairman of the General Law Committee, stated that, “The passage of legislation requiring the MedWatch information to be provided with prescription medications is a positive consumer bill.  I applaud Sheila Matthews for bringing this to our attention and helping us to pass this great consumer protection legislation.  Now consumers will have information on how they can report adverse prescription reactions so the manufacturers can review medication issues, and the FDA can re-evaluation safety concerns.  This is a major consumer protection that will help promote the safe use and manufacturing of medicines that many of us rely on to live productive lives.”

Senator Joe Markley, who also supported AbleChild’s efforts from the beginning said, “I’m delighted at the progress AbleChild has made in getting out the word on MedWatch, which will enhance the conversation on prescription drugs.  Reactions to these drugs differ dramatically, and it’s important that people who have a bad experience have a place to report what happened.  I hope we can do more to let people know about MedWatch, and to make them aware of the problems sometimes associated with certain prescription drugs.”

AbleChild’s amendment received bipartisan support and was unanimously passed on June 1, 2015. AbleChild would like to acknowledge and thank the cosponsors of this important consumer protection legislation, including Senator Joseph J. Crisco, 17th District, Representative Jonathan Steinberg, 136th District, Senator Joe Markley, 16th District, and the General Law Committee Chairman, Representative David A. Baram of the 15thDistrict.

AbleChild also would like to extend our sincere gratitude to the entire General Law Committee staff for their assistance in navigating the often, complicated legislative process.

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