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Behind Closed Doors Drug Company Lobbies Connecticut DCF Officials For Access to Children in State Care

Sheila Matthews
National Vice President
State of Connecticut is outraged that the Commissioner of the State Department of Children and Families (DCF) meets behind closed doors with the manufacturer of the drug “Paxil” that has been linked to suicidal thoughts in children without any oversight. This raises ethical questions.

The FDA has warned that “Paxil” should not be used in children, and the United Kingdom has banned its use. In November 2002, Fox National News exposed confidential documents from the manufacturer of “Paxil” which suggested that a patient taking the drug was 8 times more likely to commit suicide then a patient on placebo (sugar pill).

In Connecticut in May of 1997, GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals-Biological Division sponsored Workshops in Connecticut on Strategies for Drug Development and Trials in children at Yale Department of Pediatrics, and Yale Child Health Research Center in New Haven, Connecticut as well as Yale Child Study Center. What role does DCF children play in clinical drug trials?

The Associated Press exposed that 396 children under 4 years old who were covered by Medicaid were prescribed psychiatric drugs. The Associated Press also reported that $5.8 million in state Medicaid money was spent each year on psychiatric drugs for children with State insurance.

It is shocking that DCF, who has a total lack of accountability for previous involvement in the trafficking of children in State care into behavioral drug use, is meeting directly with the drug manufacturer of “Paxil” without any oversight. The Governor wasn’t even informed that the meeting was held yesterday, no minutes of the meeting were taken, and the purpose of the meeting was not disclosed.

However, our organization was told by DCF that the foreign-based drug manufacturer has been invited to participate in upcoming policy meetings on psychotropic drugs in September within the Department of Children and Family Services in Connecticut. Our Connecticut children in DCF care lack basic education, yet we are spending massive amounts of money on behavioral drugs. This is unethical. We have a shortage of basic access to tutoring that is sorely needed for children in state custody.

It is like putting the fox in charge of the hen house. The children’s safety, well being, and their basic constitutional rights should force the closed doors open. Our Connecticut based National Parent Organization, Parents for Label & Drug Free Education; has requested access and oversight, which we have not received.