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Sweet Rose Ramblings (AKA The Call-Waiting Blog)

A place for my unformed thoughts. Help me sort them out!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Drugs, Docs and Kids

Eye-opening article in the NY Times about anti-psychotic medications being used for unapproved issues in children with such problems as eating disorders and behavior problems. Very scary to me for a few reasons, including the fact that doctors would be so quick to prescribe such medications for children, especially to use them in cases where the problems are not the same as those the drugs were developed for, and that parents would not try to find out more information about those drugs before giving them to their children. I don't think it is necessarily wrong to prescribe drugs for reasons other than their intended use if they can be helpful, but I think extreme caution should be used, especially in the case of children. I think it's imperative for both doctors and parents to thoroughly research these drugs before taking the risk of exposing these children to antipsychotic medication and many should realize the drug therapy is not necessarily the easy way out.

Even more scary is the implications in the article about doctor's receiving money from drug companies, ostensibly not in order that the doctors prescribe the drugs more, but effectively, despite the protestations of said doctors, doing just that. I don't think anyone could honestly say that payment for lecturing or other such incentives would keep them completely objective about the usefulness of the drug. And it's very scary to think that a doctor can be swayed to prescribe a drug due to a sales pitch. (And just a side note, I feel really sorry for the poor doctor complaining about his small salary of just under $200K .)

This line from the final paragraph of the article sums it all up pretty nicely -

"Ms. Bailey said she wished she had waited to see whether counseling would help Anya before trying drugs. Anya’s weight is now normal without the help of drugs, and her counseling ended in March."


At May 10, 2007 1:41 PM, Blogger Scraps said...

As the daughter of a pediatric neurologist who is often in the position to prescribe the aforementioned drugs for off-label uses in children, and having worked in her office for several summers, I can say that there is at least one doctor who is concientious about how she prescribes said drugs, and also that she doesn't get any money from the drug companies to talk about them (although sometimes they buy her and her partner lunch so they can sit and tell them about the drugs, but she isn't that easily bribed).

Also, not all doctors are rich.

At May 10, 2007 8:05 PM, Blogger Shoshana said...

Scraps -
I apologize, I absolutely did not mean to imply that all doctors don't pay attention to the drugs they prescribe, I more intended to stress the importance in general of researching any drug that a person is prescribed, especially when it involves a child.

And all doctors may not be rich, but I do have a hard time with the seeming implication in the article that a $200K salary is not very high. Many, many people I know would be very happy to earn such a salary.

At May 11, 2007 12:42 PM, Blogger Scraps said...

Absolutely. My mother is a very strong proponent of responsibility in prescribing medicines, especially in younger kids.

Regarding the $200K...it depends on how much of it the person takes home, how much work must be done to earn it, how high their expenses are, etc. For instance, my mother has a private practice, so when all is said and done, she ends up paying about 50% of her income in taxes (because she has to pay double SS and FICA because she's self-employed), she has to pay overhead and salaries, and she still put my sister and me through a full Jewish education. Even if she makes $200K on paper before taxes (which I'm not sure she does), it doesn't go very far when you take all that into consideration.


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