Is Parkland Accused Murderer, Nikolas Cruz, Deserving of a Fair Trial?

May 12th, 2018 | Breaking News, Press Releases

 

Attorney Ostrow stated, “from the onset, Broward’s public defender office, has consistently, thrown their client under the bus in public comments made by Howard Finkelstein, essentially condemning his own client, reflecting a clear conflict of interest and an unfitness to effectively represent Cruz’s best interests. Despite this issue being addressed in various motions filed with the court, based on a host of supporting facts, the court has rejected any such arguments to date, citing a lack of standing, as opposed to the merits of the argument.”

He stood mute at the arraignment while the Court entered a Not Guilty Plea on his behalf. Nikolas Cruz appeared with his head down, the result of reportedly being heavily drugged. Cruz had been a patient of Henderson Behavioral Health, a contracted mental health vendor of Broward County that received $8.9 million in federal grants two distributions, one in October 2012 and the other in December of 2016.

Nikolas Cruz, a product of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCF), was labeled with a string of alleged mental disorders, including depression, ADHD, emotional behavioral disability and autism and was, apparently “treated.”

It has been reported that he had been medicated throughout his young life, but how much or which psychiatric, mind-altering drugs appears to be the only selective mental health records that were not leaked by the Mayor of Broward County, Beam Furr.

Given the complete subjectivity associated with psychiatric diagnosing, it is of little surprise that the mental health wizards of Henderson Behavioral Health reported to DCF that Cruz was not a risk to harm himself or others.

A grand jury formally indicted Cruz on 34 counts, including and 17 counts of premeditated first-degree murder and 17 counts of attempted first-degree murder in the injuries to 17 others – charges that make Cruz a prime candidate for the death penalty.

Long-time Broward County attorney, Howard Finkelstein heads up the Public Defender’s Office charged with handling his defense. In February of 2018, Finkelstein’s suspect remarks about his client were featured in the New York Times article Feb. 24, 2018, After a School Shooting, a Question of One More Death: The Gunman.  It raised serious questions about Cruz’s ability to get appropriate representation and a fair trial: It reads:

“If it were my daughter, I would want to personally kill my client, make no mistake about it.”


Guilty or innocent, there is a time and a place for everything and, certainly, Finkelstein is entitled to his own opinion. But when it appears that the Chief of the Public Defender’s Office is throwing you under the bus in the New York Times, and your life is on the line, maybe it is time to seek a more sympathetic attorney.  Unfortunately, Cruz has been denied this ability. The accused, Cruz, is incarcerated in Broward County Jail and, apparently, heavily drugged and on suicide watch.

In this regard, attempts made by a local criminal defense attorney, Gary Ostrow, to assist Cruz have been blocked by the Public Defender’s office.

(Gary Ostrow has almost exclusively practiced criminal law for over 30 years and tried hundreds of cases from South Florida to New York and Los Angeles and has many published blog articles relating to his trial experiences as well his relentless advocacy for those who cannot speak for themselves and the oppressed.)

Maybe people are no longer innocent until proven guilty. Additionally, it appears that Gordon Weeks, Chief Assistant to the Public Defender, is more concerned with sparing the community of having to relive the shooting, rather than providing a thorough a defense.

Perhaps a trial would actually help the community to discover material facts as to what caused the young man to carry out such a heinous act. The information gleaned from a trial may not only prevent another school shooting, but could also help stop the mental health vendors from drugging children with mind-altering drugs and rubber stamping them as “treated.”

Facts have a way of coming out during a trial. Cruz needs a fair shake and let the chips fall where they may. But, in order to do so, the drugging of the accused must stop. He deserves responsible legal representation and the opportunity to enter his own plea.

Short of providing new council, it appears that we are going down the same path, with too many unnecessary deaths and another child involved in the mental health system that provides “cradle to grave” drugging.

 

Too Many Unanswered Questions in Broward County Shooting & Medication Involvement

February 27th, 2018 | Breaking News

February 14th proved to be anything but a loving Valentine’s Day in Broward County Florida this year when one 19 year old young man walked into his former high school and opened fire leaving 17 dead. Less than two weeks later, many are still searching for answers and learning more and more about this troubled young man and the over abundant signs given to both the Department of Children & Family Services and its vendor, Henderson Behavioral Health, the Out Patient Mental Health Center where Cruz was receiving treatment.

Henderson Behavioral Health is South Florida’s oldest and largest mental health provider. Its website totes that “Prevention Works, Treatment is Effective and People Recover” next to images of smiling families. In October 2012, Henderson took a 1.6 million dollar grant from the Center for Mental Health Services of the Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. In December 2016 Broward County itself received a $22 million dollar federal mental health grant from the NIMH of which $7.3 million went to Henderson Behavioral Health.

The Broward County Commissioners met on February 27th to discuss the recent school shooting. After this meeting, the Sun Sentinel reported that Broward County plans its own investigation into the shooting. According to the Commissioner, Mark Bogen, “We are the only body right now that has no conflict of interest”. No conflict of interest? Is Mr. Bogen aware that his county took the $22 million dollar grant and gave Henderson Behavioral Health where Cruz was treated, 7.3 million dollars?

One would hope that any investigation of this matter is handled by an outside party not affiliated with Broward County in any way to ensure the integrity of the investigative process.

According to the Department of Children and Family Services in a press release February 19, 2018, they readily admit Cruz was receiving mental health services and taking medication. Where it gets murky is when DCF’s Secretary, Mike Carroll claims that the agency only had one involvement with Cruz contradicting a report from the Sun Sentinel titled School Shooter Nikolas Cruz: An Unending Saga of Disturbed Behavior and Red Flags. The Sentinel reports that records from DCF show Cruz had been diagnosed with a string of disorders and conditions to include: Depression, ADHD, Emotional Behavioral Disability, and Autism.

We know Cruz was on medication but don’t know just how many or which ones. It has been reported that he had hallucinations, was suicidal at one point, and stated that he had demons in his head that made him do the shooting, all sounding a lot like side effects that the FDA often warns about with psychiatric drugs prescribed for the multiple labels he was diagnosed with.

After all there have been 22 drug regulatory agency warnings from 5 countries and the European Union, on psychiatric drugs causing violence, hostility, aggression, psychosis, mania, and homicidal ideation. At least 36 school shooters were on one or more psychiatric drugs linked to violence. There are now many reports of these fatal acts of violence that can no longer go unnoticed.  The media or a politician’s claim that the person “went off his meds” or “was not being treated” is not a fact.  This type of message to the public implies it is only then that these types of side effects occur.  According to the MedWatch reporting system this propaganda simply isn’t true and is dangerous to the consumer and to public safety.

AbleChild has discovered that the Mayor of Broward County, Beam Furr, has access to Nikolas Cruz’s mental health records and appears to be selectively releasing portions of them. AbleChild has reached out to Mayor Furr concerning this selective release and to stress the importance of knowing what medications Cruz was on.  The public has been put at risk with these kinds of violent acts, making it a public health crisis. Citizens should have the right to know the exact medications Cruz was taking, the names, dosage amounts, history of bloodwork, and if a MedWatch form was ever filed to report any side effects to the FDA.  After all these drugs are marketed to the public and known side effects puts the public at risk.

A Movie that Takes a Stand for Our Cause!

A Powerful Film That Can Be Near You.

AbleChild is excited to announce a powerful movie that takes a stand for our cause.

Different Drummers is a true story of friendship and adventure that changes the lives of two young boys in 1965. Coming to DVD nationwide this Fall, it is currently available for theatrical screenings/ fundraisers in your city. The movie has already polarized over twenty thousand viewers into rethinking medicating our future… our children. Different Drummers isn’t about someone else’s child, it is about yours! Please, sign up today to host a screening in your area. 

Watch this amazing excerpt from a testimonial video taken after a public high school showed the film to 900 students, parents, and faculty. Then scroll below to see how you can get involved and use this movie to help make a difference in your community.

Parents, teachers, and leaders are transforming their communities with this film’s powerful message!

Join the mission today! Here are a few ways you can get involved and champion this important cause:

If you would like to host a screening of this film in your local area, please contact Nicole Abisinio at Gabriel’s Messenger Films. 

Things people are saying about Different Drummers.

“The physical and emotional contrast between the characters…
is the stuff of classic children’s literature.”

Tom Keogh – Seattle Times

 “Based on a true story, Different Drummers is one of those uplifting films that makes you want to go out and live life with everything you’ve got . . .”
Misty Layne – Rogue Cinema

“This is a story of friendship and faith and working toward change. We are pleased to award it our Dove Seal.” 
The Dove Foundation

 “…an inspiration for everyone…
it gives hope for living life to its fullest.”

Phillip C. DeMio, MD – President, American Medical Autism Board

 “Poignant, warm, sad, touching, and totally delightful.”
Derek Kavanagh – Producer,
Dances with Wolves

“Different Drummers is a heroic movie about acceptance – acceptance of oneself, of others despite their differences and acceptance of one’s destiny. It is a movie that transforms defeat into victory for all the people involved”
Mark Hartley, 7th grade teacher

“My students returned from seeing the film and were quite moved by what they saw. They talked about the film for many days afterward”
Sonia Flores-Davis, Principal, Catholic Diocese of Spokane

“The message of friendship and determination and dealing with issues was so important, I felt that we had to show it… not that we should, but we HAD to show this movie to all our students, parents, and teacher. People have to have the courage to stand up for what is right.”
Mike Hittle, Principal, Central Valley High School, WA

To directly donate to AbleChild’s 501(3)c mission click HERE.

Copyright © *|2015|* *|Gabriel’s Messenger Films|*, All rights reserved.To contact AbleChild – Click HERE
To contact Different Drummers – Click HEREunsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences

 

 

Ablechild Board Member Featured Speaker Risperdal-Gynecomastia Litigation

October 3rd, 2014 | Breaking News

Ablechild is pleased to announce that one of its founding board members, Derek Braslow, will be a featured speaker concerning the Risperdal-Gynecomastia litigation at the National Mass Torts Made Perfect Conference in Las Vegas, on October 10, 2014.

Derek has long been an advocate for America’s children and is looking forward to updating some of the nation’s pre-eminent trial attorneys on preparations for the first Risperdal trial, scheduled for November 3, 2014 in Philadelphia.

“Gynecomastia, or the swelling of breast tissue in males,” says Braslow, “can be a devastating consequence of taking Risperdal – especially to young boys going through adolescence.”  “Risperdal was not approved for any indication for children or adolescents until October 2006, and thereafter, only for limited indications in that age group – yet many doctors did and continued to prescribe Risperdal off-label for this age group – without appreciating the actual benefits and risks of this psychotropic drug.”

Risperidone is an “atypical antipsychotic,” so called because these drugs are chemically different from and have different side effects than the older antipsychotic medications. While science does not understand the exact mechanism of Risperidone, it is believed that Risperidone affects the way the brain works by blocking the receptors on some of the brain’s nerves, thus altering communication normally done by chemical neurotransmitters.

Johnson & Johnson received FDA approval for Risperdal (their brand name for Risperidone) in 1993 for the treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder in adults only. It was later approved in 2006 for irritability associated with autism in children. Despite not being approved for children and adolescents for any indication prior to 2006, it was promoted “off-label” for a variety of mental health conditions, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, sleep difficulties, depression, Tourette syndrome, stuttering, and obsessive-compulsive disorders.

In addition to causing Gynecomastia, Risperdal carries the risk of other serious side effects as well, including suicidality, heart failure, stroke, uncontrollable movements, diabetes, and neuroleptic malignant syndrome.

Ablechild couldn’t be more pleased that Derek will be the featured speaker on such an important issues affecting so many of today’s youth.

Poster boy, Tj – 8 year old, used in op-ed to sell more mental illness in CT

May 29th, 2014 | Blog

More mental illness screening, more mental illness care, more mental illness services, more mental illness diagnosing, and more mental illness treatment.  This is what the op-ed of May 26th titled:  Review of Children’s mental healthcare is vital, demands, yet nowhere in the piece does the writer discuss the psychiatric drug “therapy” utilized in mental health’s “treatment” regimen for T.J., the subject of the piece.

Reportedly eight year-old T.J. was diagnosed with the alleged brain abnormality, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, ADHD, because he had problems focusing in school and was hyperactive.  T.J. received mental health services in another state.  At what age did T.J. first receive these “services?”  The writer does not say.

What exactly were those “services?”  Was T.J. “treated” with Ritalin or Adderall? Both highly addictive drugs and, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration, DEA  nearly identical to cocaine. Or, perhaps, T.J. had been prescribed the “non-stimulant” drug Strattera, a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor, SSRI.

SSRI’s are the most commonly prescribed form of antidepressant, yet approved by the Food and Drug Administration, FDA, for the “treatment” of the alleged ADHD.  Ironically, it also is the FDA who plastered “Black Box” warnings – the agency’s most serious warning – on these drugs because they may cause abnormal thoughts and suicidal behavior in children.

Remember it is the National Institute of Mental Health, NIMH, that openly admits scientists have no idea what causes the alleged ADHD.  And the pharmaceutical companies openly admit on the product packaging that they don’t know how the drugs work in the brain to “treat” the alleged ADHD.  Frankly this drug “treatment” is one big guessing game, and the kids, at extremely young ages, are being used as guinea pigs.

This is the problem with crying for more mental illness services. There is no science to support even one psychiatric diagnosis. There is no known objective, confirmable abnormality that is a psychiatric diagnosis.  It is completely subjective.  The American Psychiatric Association, APA, merely has gathered lists of behaviors and randomly decided they equate to some mental illness that needs to be “treated.”

Columbine, Aurora. Co., and Sandy Hook, to name a few, all were the result of young men with long histories of mental health “treatment.” Now in the wake of yet another mass murder in Santa Barbara, where the shooter openly discusses his years-long psychiatric “treatment,” it seems incredible that the state of Connecticut is rushing to implement increased mental illness services when, in fact, lawmakers should be investigating the very dangerous psychiatric drugs used as “treatments.” To paraphrase the lyrics of Pink Floyd’s The Wall, “hey, psychiatrists, leave them kids alone!”

At the end of the day, PA-13-178  which the op-ed writer “endorses,” is based on the recommendations made by mental health vendors who clearly have a horse in the race. Lawmakers should acknowledge the obvious conflict of interest and mandate that these vendors will not benefit from their increased mental illness services recommendations.

If these mental illness vendor “stops” are not put in place, where will the power to label the state’s children as “abnormal,” and drug them into submission, end?

 

Testimony Before CT Education Committee

March 5th, 2012 | Uncategorized

Testimony:

Request Insert of Language of Informed Consent Bill 5007 to Bill 5353.

Ablechild is a nationally recognized 501(3)c non-profit parent’s rights organization. Ablechild was recently featured on CNN Special Projects, Perry’s Principles (Quick to Medicate) December 10, 2011. Ablechild contributed to the groundbreaking Diane Sawyer ABC 20/20 year long investigation into the drugging of foster care children which was shown to be a major problem not only within the state of Connecticut, but throughout the Nation.

Ablechild was founded by two moms, Patricia Weathers and myself, Sheila Matthews. Both our schools diagnosed our boys with ADHD through the IEP process in our school system. This diagnosis was based off a “subjective” ADD checklist. We were never informed during the entire IEP process that this ADD/ADHD checklist was subjective and was not endorsed and had never been endorsed by the Board of Education, the State or Federal Government. We have submitted below letters from the Board of Education, State of Connecticut and a Federal Document that states they do not endorse this type of identification of children.

We were never told this checklist came from the Association of School Psychologists through research: behavioral, and clinical drug trials grants. We were never at any time informed that there is no test in existence to diagnose the condition and the diagnosis itself was not based in science. We were never informed at any time that this was a psychiatric label and that we were in essence labeling our children “mentally ill.” We were never informed that there were any other treatments for this diagnosis other than drug treatment. We were never informed at any time what the risks of this recommended drug treatment were and the fact that many of the drugs recommended were not even FDA approved for children.

In fact, we were never informed that we even had a choice to “opt out” of a school psychologist and his or her testing of our child. During this whole process we were only offered mental health services and little if any educational ones. Parents must have the right to have an education or speech and language specialist test their child instead of a psychologist. All parents should have the right to educational services that are evidence based rather than subjective not only within special education but throughout the entire education system.

For the past five years, Ablechild has fought for legislation to prevent what happened to us from happening to other parents. We in many ways have been fortunate. Our children are survivors of this very risky process. Other children have not been so lucky, being injured and having died from misdiagnosis and recommended drug treatment.

Ablechild and all of its parent members continue to urge this committee to pass an informed consent bill which focuses on full disclosure to protect not only parents informed consent rights but our children’s health and safety. Each year for the last five years, a bill for informed consent has been rejected, and it is our hope this year, that you as a committee seriously consider this issue since it involves both the protection of parent’s rights and our children’s health and safety. We are requesting that you incorporate Representative Hetherington’s proposed bill #5007 last proposed in 2011, AN ACT CONCERNING PSYCHIATRIC AND PSYCHIATRIC AND PSYCHOLOGICAL TESTING OF SCHOOL CHILDREN AND PROCEDURAL SAFEGUARDS FOR PARENTS, on informed consent into the language of this bill 5353.

AN ACT CONCERNING PSYCHIATRIC AND PSYCHOLOGICAL TESTING OF SCHOOL CHILDREN AND PROCEDURAL SAFEGUARDS FOR PARENTS
http://www.cga.ct.gov/2011/TOB/H/2011HB-05007-R00-HB.htm

We cannot stress enough how important it is to incorporate the Hetherington bill language “5007” within bill “5353“ for parent and children’s rights.

We would be happy to expand on our request and answer any questions you may have.

Thank You for Your Consideration
The Staff of Ablechild.org

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.

Keep your ADHD Label, Teach Writing.

September 5th, 2011 | News Archive

Over the years, Ablechild.org has gone directly to the pipeline of ADHD, and has informed parents of the misleading information they are receiving through the public school system and the media relating to the label ADHD and the dangerous mind altering drugs that are recommended as the solution.

Writing is the latest link the drug manufacturers and psychiatric gatekeepers plan on using to lure families into psychiatric drug use. Perfect timing as children start school. Tuesday, August 23 (HealthDay News) reports that Children diagnosed with ADHD have a much higher risk of developing written language disorder, a new study indicates. The findings don’t eliminate the ADHD label or give way to the fact that millions of children have been misdiagnosed with ADHD that had underlying writing issues. The study wants to ensure children are Co-labeled.

What you will find with any ADHD study, the ADHD label is often linked with human actions, i.e., walking, talking, listening, eating, sleeping, crying, laughing and now writing. To validate the label they take those actions and link it to “a much higher risk of developing” problems and across it over to whatever obtains them more clientele. For example, Monday, July 25, 2011 big news (Reuters Health) reported that Children with ADHD are more likely to misjudge risk of walking across the street. The findings, researchers say it may explain why children with the disorder have a higher than average risk of being hit by a car. This approach to taking a verb and associating it with risk and linking with your child becomes alarming. Simple tasks become a concern, something for you to look for to become proactive about. This has created an industry that feeds off our children’s behaviors. Giving cause to analyse it all and cure it. OMG!

As school starts, know the facts and stay in the solution. Writing problems exist, but they can be solved without a ADHD Label or drugs. The recommendation should not be to Co-label a child with ADHD and a writing disorder, but to look at ensuring that schools continue to focus on the connection between writing and the development of the brain.. Thus the research they are not providing to you or mentioning in this breaking news study is a key ingredient for you to make an informed decision. Ablechild gives you a battling study for your review and a breaking news story that illustrates the failure to teach writing at the important developmental ages.

Research.

News Coverage

Stay in touch with your own reality, not what the psychiatric and drug companies want your reality to be for your child. Visit us at www.ablechild.org and let us provide you with more information so that you may make an informed decision relating to your child’s health and well-being.

Have a great start to the new school year!

Sheila Matthews
Cofounder 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.

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