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Billion Dollar Drug Company Law Firm Restructures Connecticut Welfare System

By       Message ROBERT FIDDAMAN     Permalink
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opednews.com Headlined to H2 3/13/11

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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 that 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.

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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 Connecticut DCF held a 'behind closed doors' meeting with Glaxo officials. This meeting was reported by the Associated Press, which 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.

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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 users are on stimulants.
Close to 30% of HUSKY Youth Behavioral med users are on anti-psychotics.

The pharmacy data also revealed the following:

Most Frequently Used Behavioral Meds for DCF-Involved Youth

Medications for ADHD:

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Ritalin (10%)

Adderall (5%)

Vyvanse (4%)

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Robert Fiddaman is the author of the book, 'The evidence, however, is clear...the Seroxat scandal'. He has been writing about the pharmaceutical industry and medicine regulators for 7 years. His blog, Seroxat Sufferers, has become popular amongst (more...)
 

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