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Will The Governor Include MedWatch Training To Proposed Mental Health Initiatives?

Will The Governor Include MedWatch Training To Proposed Mental Health Initiatives?

Sandy Hook Shooter Proves Need For Inclusion

In an apparent response to the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, Connecticut Governor, Dannel P. Malloy, has announced increased funding in the state’s mental health budget. Why?

If shooter, Adam Lanza, had been a product of the state mental health system there may be some evidence to back up such broad changes, and this increased spending may make sense. But, to date, there is no evidence that Lanza received any state mental health assistance.

In fact, based on what little information has been made public about Lanza’s mental health treatment, it appears that, beyond school recommendations to the family, the father’s private insurance was used and the family did not depend on state sponsored benefits.

Of course, the last publically known mental health treatment Lanza received was from the Yale Child Study Center, which, oddly enough, provided information to investigators about an adverse drug event Lanza was experiencing from the prescribed antidepressant, Celexa.

According to the State Police investigation of the shooting, Yale Child Study Center Registered Nurse, Kathleen Koenig, prescribed Celexa to Lanza and was “immediately” contacted by Nancy Lanza, who reported that her son was “unable to raise his arm.”

Did Koenig recommend discontinuation of the antidepressant?  No. In fact, Koenig told police investigators that she tried to “convince Nancy Lanza that the medication was not causing any purported symptoms which Adam might be experiencing.”

Koenig’s response seems questionable.  First it is important to point out that Celexa has not been approved for use by children, so the prescription was written “off-label” when Adam was 15 years old.  More importantly, though, the “serious side effects” include: “call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as: very stiff (rigid) muscles.”

To the layman, it doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility that Lanza, unable to lift his arm, may have been experiencing one of the serious side effects of the antidepressant.  In fact, a quick perusal of the internet reveals many reports of similar complaints associated with Celexa.

Is it possible that Koenig was unaware of the specific side effects associated with Celexa?  Did Koenig review the possible adverse side effects of Celexa before providing her medical advice?

Koenig further reports to investigators that “Nancy Lanza was not receptive to Koenig’s reasoning,” and that Nancy Lanza “missed at least one scheduled appointment…and failed to schedule subsequent appointments for Lanza.”

Again, given Koenig’s response to Nancy Lanza regarding what very likely could be a serious adverse reaction to the psychiatric drug, is it so tough to understand why Nancy Lanza decided to end her son’s relationship with the Yale Child Study Center?”

It is interesting to note, however, that investigators do not mention whether Koenig reported this adverse drug event to the Food and Drug Administration’s MedWatch System. Nor do investigators mention whether Koenig advised Nancy Lanza that she could report the adverse event to the FDA herself.

Ablechild believes that the MedWatch System is an important, no-cost, tool that is necessary for the FDA to make safety recommendations and post warnings to consumers about drugs. In an effort to provide consumers with this important information, Ablechild is lobbying State lawmakers in an effort to have information about the MedWatch System made part of any new mental health training among educators and mental health care workers.

Given that the Yale Child Study Center receives state mental health funding, it seems appropriate that Governor Malloy might consider it important for organizations, such as the Yale Child Study Center, be made aware of the availability to consumers about the MedWatch System.

It’s only speculation, but it would appear that Nancy Lanza’s reporting of the adverse drug event her son was experiencing was a perfect time for an organization, such as Yale Child Study Center, to take advantage of the FDA’s MedWatch System.





Presidential Executive Orders in Mental Health: A History of Failures

Numerous Presidential Executive orders and millions in appropriations for Mental Health in Connecticut have produced nothing but failure and may actually be harmful. Hundreds-of-millions more tax dollars have been promised with no hope of real change.   Despite the enormous amount of money being funneled into mental health, the big return seems to be little more than semantics – merely changing words rather than policy.

The State of Connecticut was one of 13 States to receive a federal “mental health transformation” grant under President Bush. The grant was issued as an executive order to “transform” the broken mental health system and was funded through 2010.  And, what was the return on the investment?  Connecticut suffers the largest mass murder/suicide in United States history within years of this “new improved mental health delivery system.”

Patricia Rehmer, the Commissioner of Mental Health in Connecticut, touts on her resume the fact she had oversight of the $13.7 million granted to Connecticut to then revamp the mental health delivery system.  Ablechild participated in all the committee hearings on that grant and called for disclosure to the consumer on the link between the increased risk of suicide, violence and psychiatric drugs.  Ablechild encouraged the State to educate the public on the MEDWATCH program, and to provide alternatives to psychiatric drugs and forced mental health services.  Ablechild also wrote to then Governor Rell requesting an accounting of how the funds were distributed and whether the public would be advised of the results. The Governor denied Ablechild’s request.

Despite tens-of-millions poured into the State’s mental health system with little or no accountability as to how those funds were spent, in the wake of Sandy Hook, President Obama has promised another $100 million thru an executive order to “make it easier to access mental health services.”  That’s great. But what happened to the $13.7 million from President Bush’s grant?

Are you doing the math?  Are you following the insane process?

On December 20, 2012, within weeks of the Sandy Hook shooting, Senator Scott Frantz stated on WCBS to Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau that mental health providers will get a “slight boost” in the wake of the shootings and will have no funding cuts despite the fact that, “it has not been determined if there was direct connection between that and the massacre.”

Recall that Lanza’s mental health, educational records, and full toxicology report are being withheld from the public by the state of Connecticut.

The push, apparently, is to use this $100 million dollars to improve access to mental health services. However, according to the Hartford Courant’s article of June 20, 2013, Adam Lanza’s Medical Records Reveal Growing Anxiety” Lanza did have access to mental health services for many years. Lanza had been “screened” and released as not being a harm to himself or others.

Ablechild is taking the lead in calling for Lanza’s records to be made public, which will be crucial during the upcoming Connecticut legislative session.  The goal is to protect public safety and stop the mismanagement of taxpayer funds.  Is the increased mental health helping or hurting the public? Not everyone is convinced that more money spent on mental health access will have a positive effect – at least, to date, the State cannot prove that the tens-of-millions spent so far has shown any improvement.

For example, Dr. Hank Schwarts, psychiatrist-in-chief of the Institute of Living in Hartford said in regard to mental health issues, “to write a report now, with what we have, would almost be embarrassing.”,0,6056179.story


Ablechild Supporters

Dear Ablechild Supporters,

It has been an amazing year!  Your help has brought the mission of Informed Consent relating to psychiatric drugs to a new level.  In order to keep up the continued fight, we are in need of your generous donations.

We are one of the only organizations in the United States that has been on the front lines of this war against our basic parental rights.  One of the most fierce engagements we had was with the State of Connecticut over the disclosure of Adam Lanza’s mental health, special education, and toxicology report.  We appeared before the freedom of information commission and forced the State to admit the reason why they did not want to disclose the records.

Our website continues to receive increased traffic and the media often seeks us out for our opinion.  This upcoming legislative session in Connecticut and throughout the Country will be totally focused on mental health.  The multi-billion dollar mental health and drug industry will be setting the agenda, we cannot let this happen.  Their agenda has already been spelled out to massively screen ALL children within the public education system for mental illnesses.  As we know, there is no test.   It is totally subjective and will traffic children into an unmanageable whirlwind of drug use.  As we have witnessed time and again the deadly school shootings ending with the shooter’s suicide, we cannot stand by and allow this to happen.

Although the economy is in a deep recession, we cannot think of a better cause then to stop the violence these drugs are inducing into our society.  We urge you to support Ablechild and its continued mission of informed consent by making a year end contribution that is tax deductible.  Knowledge is power, share the information.

We wish you a healthy and happy New Year.

The Ablechild Team




Legislative Action Alert for May 20th – Connecticut



Connecticut URGENT ACTION NEEDED! CALLS TO CT HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. Two dangerous bills pass CT Senate move to House.

FIND YOUR REPRESENTATIVE: KILL THESE BILLS. LINK BELOW, Copy and paste and add or delete to our suggested letter.



To create a pilot program to refer children thirty-six months of age or younger who are the victims of substantiated abuse or neglect to the birth-to-three program.


I (your name) STRONGLY OPPOSE Senate bill 0652 and Senate bill 0833.

Senate bill 0652, places low income families and their babies that are mandated into the CT State Department of Children and Family Services “at risk” of being trafficked into to drug research and behavioral health research at Yale University.

The “Pilot” program has not been validated as effective or safe. This is “research” children from the department of children and families services are trapped within the State care system and do not have the “right to opt” out of these research “Pilot” programs.

The entire department of children and families services is run by behavioral health vendors who profit off the services given to children within the system. Currently, the only vendors allowed to identify children’s needs and to offer children services are that of psychiatry. This one vendor rule has no accountability for misdiagnosing or drugging children to death, which is part of the current crisis for children utilizing services by the State.

This bill would traffic children into the department of Psychiatry at YALE University under the term “pilot program” with no proven track record to support strong effective informed consent for participants nor gives participants the ability to refuse the services.

Therefore, I request you reject this bill and encourage the break up of the monopoly of service contractors servicing all children within State care. We urge you to watch the Diane Sawyer one year long investigation into the drugging of children within State care, whereas, data used for that investigation was provided through Ablechild from the Connecticut Department of Children and Family Services.

Second Bill for you to reject is Senate Bill 0833


To provide the Department of Children and Families or other appointed guardian with the authority to meet the medical and educational needs of a child under an order of temporary care and custody.

Very simple, this bill strips away INFORMED CONSENT rights of children and families fighting to get their children out of state care, waiting for trials or placed in to State care for any other reason. This bill would allow the State to administer dangerous mind altering drugs to children while they are in “temporary” custody. This bill also goes as far as to allow the State to do “surgery” on children while in temporary custody of the State.

There are no legal protections for these children to file claims against the State for Malpractice or treatments that go wrong or were not needed. This allows the State to alter a child’s life while that child is only in temporary custody and rejecting the natural parents ability to participate in decision making in the best interest of the child they gave birth. There is no right to refuse. I strongly oppose this bill and urge you to as well.

Any questions please post below. We will gladly answer them right away! Phone calls would be great as well and use our letters above as talking points. These two bills are moving quickly. If you do nothing else today, make a call for the children trapped in Connecticut State care.

At this time we need people calling CT State House Members to kill these bills that traffic our children into dangerous and often deadly treatment plans.

Bill Status

CDC’s Questionable Findings

Ablechild’s response to article in the Huffington Post, “Mental Disorders in Children: CDC Releases First-Ever Report”.

After reading the supplement report and an exhausting listing of subjective mental labels, their descriptions, and their definitions according to the industry that created them, studies them, and begs the government for funding of them; Ablechild found it stunning to see the doctor who penned the newly released “supplementary report”, Dr. Ruth Perou gives her opinion on the motives behind the CDC efforts.

“This is a deliberate effort by CDC to show mental health is a health issue. As with any health concern, the more attention we give to it, the better. It’s parents becoming aware of the facts and talking to a healthcare provider about how their child is learning, behaving, and playing with other kids,” Dr. Ruth Perou, the lead author of the study, told Reuters in an interview.

Really?  Ablechild takes issue with her statement and reminds her that the CDC’s mission is not to be the marketing arm for the psychiatric industry, but to collect data to reduce disease.  The CDC including “mental illnesses” into their data collection arena isn’t something Ablechild would normally agree with since the diagnostic process is subjective in nature and they are not diseases.  As you see from the entire introduction and report itself,  it blathers on about surveys and questionnaires, and we can all agree that diseases are not diagnosed by questionnaires and surveys.   Even the NIMH in April came out with a statement invalidating the DSM (Diagnostic Statistical Manual) symptom based model as being unscientific.  However, considering the CDC’s recent release of the skyrocketing numbers of children diagnosed with ADHD (up 53% in the past decade) we can surmise that this serves as an alarming warning of the dangers that this presents to our children’s health and safety.

Ablechild does support the NVDRS (which is completely ignored by Dr. Ruth Perou) which is a state-based surveillance system that links data from law enforcement, coroners and medical examiners, vital statistics, and crime laboratories to assist participating states in designing and implementing tailored prevention and intervention efforts. An incident-based, relational database collects and stores the data and is available free of charge from the NVDRS Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS). .

Ablechild supports this new National Violence Data Reporting System.  This system has the potential to collect data of psychiatric drugs and their link to increased risk of suicide and violence among users.  This is evidence-based and the public needs to ensure that this system is not only set up to capture the data but is accurately maintained and supported by professionals.

Nuts and Shells Pave Over Same Path in Connecticut Treatment of Traumatized Children in State Care.

Like a chilling novel, the Hartford Courant rolls out its latest article, ( seemingly in support of the billion dollar mental health system-supported and perpetually conflicted Connecticut Department of Children and Families (CT DCF). It does so in an attempt to pave over a road littered with child victims and torn apart by a system run by mental health vendors. The Hartford Courant’s article is prominently featured on the CT DFC homepage. Josh Kovner’s piece uses the long- effective but shallow attempt to fool his readers with the nut and shell game often seen on the streets of New York City. The hand is quicker than the eye, and your money is always lost. The winner is the guy moving the shells.

The piece opens with a story of a DCF family struggling to receive proper services from CT DCF but could not because of the misguided direction of the current system. However, just like in fairytales, magic happens, the system suddenly changes and all ends well for the family. Ironically, the timing couldn’t be better.

Kovner’s article ties the suffering family’s ordeal into the timing of multi-million dollar federal grant to increase the number of outpatient community clinics and rename the troubled state psychiatric ward from “Riverview” to the Albert J. Solnit Psychiatric Center, and the Connecticut Juvenile Training School. All this happens in one shell move.

Kovner writes, “Turns out her timing was good – the state Department of Children and Families, working with experts in childhood trauma, is using a multi-million dollar federal grant to increase from 16 to about 26 the number of outpatient community clinics that practice trauma-focused therapy, and to put it in play at DCF’s most difficult facilities, the former Riverview Children’s Hospital, reorganized as the Albert J. Solnit Psychiatric Center, and the Connecticut Juvenile Training School.”

Apparently, it turns out the entire system was screwed up because the kids weren’t screened for post-traumatic stress syndrome, just like a combat soldier would be.

The Courant’s blurred report includes the following: “the result is that the true source of child’s pain is often not addressed, and his symptoms – depression, aggression, withdrawal – are often misdiagnosed, said DCF psychologist Bert Plant.”

Really? DCF was failing to correctly diagnose post-traumatic stress in children? How could Dr. Plant and other DCF staff have missed this after all these years?

One only needs to look at the long history in this DCF Billion Dollar shell game. It seems as if DCF, in quiet partnership with mental health vendors, has long-mastered how to make the most money off of Connecticut’s most vulnerable citizens. (

Kovner’s article fails to address why 396 Medicaid-covered children under four (4) years old were prescribed dangerous psychotropic drugs in the first place? And even more incredibly, as Dr. Andres Martin, a child psychiatrist with Yale Child Study Center in New Haven, pointed out in an article eleven (11) years ago, that some of those medicated children were less than 1 year old. Perhaps Kovner, DCF and Dr. Plant should concern themselves with over-diagnosing children as opposed to their incredible concerns about under-diagnosing mental illness?

Exactly how long do we need to continue to watch the same old players move the shells around? After Ablechild’s recent testimony before the State legislature to block this “name change”, we would like to make it clear to Connecticut’s citizens, at no point was it publicly divulged that this “technical” name change would be tied to a multi-million dollar federal grant.

This shell game is not only costly, but it’s dangerous. Like the shell games on the streets of New York City, it is your money they are taking. Unlike the shell game, however, small children are exposed to risky drugs with very little potential benefit.

The DCF system is creating broken citizens and a cycle of endless victims. In 2001, the Associated Press reported that $5.8 million in State Medicaid money was spent each year on psychiatric drugs for children with State Insurance. Where are we today, wouldn’t you like to know? The shells get fancier, but the nuts remain the same.

Sheila Matthews

Ablechild Opens Legislative Session in CT on Foster Care Reform

Ablechild Opens 2012 legislative Session in Connecticut Testifying before the Select Committee on Children Regarding Foster Care Reform

On February 28, 2012 Ablechild appeared before the Select Committee on Children to Oppose Bill 5217 as Written.

It was a disappointment to see the new DCF Commissioner, Joette Katz, efforts fall short presenting bill 5217 to the committee for “technical” changes requesting the name of the embattled State run psychiatric ward, “Riverview” to be changed rather than present a bill to reform the Child Welfare System. What does a name change do? The Commissioner’s efforts can be liken to rearranging the deck chairs on a leaking ship.

Diane Sawyer’s one year long investigative report into the National problem of psychiatric drugging of children within Foster Care that aired on November 30, 2011, actually included pieces from the State of Connecticut’s DCF System supplied to ABC by

Ablechild supplied ABC’s 20/20 Diane Sawyer investigation with the Pharmacy Report from “Riverview” State psychiatric ward. In addition, we would like to point out the annual budget of $29,766,625,000 for psychiatric services for Connecticut DCF. How anyone can go before this committee and present factual data that children don’t have access to psychiatric services or request a “technical change” in current policies should be forced to look at this number and explain where the money is going and how a “technical change” will solve the harmful and expensive approach to taking care of and protecting children.

While we were waiting to testify, It was amazing to sit and listen to testimony on S.B. 156, a request concerning sibling visitation for children in the care and custody of the Commissioner. The discussion circled to who would pay for the transportation to ensure the child could make the visits, thinking of that $29,766,625.00 maybe a limo by DCF? Ablechild was compelled to support S.B. 156 after listening to the DCF victims of sibling break ups when placed into DCF custody. We thought it was disheartening to hear one of the committee members point out to a sibling testifying for visitation rights that they were lucky the Commissioner stayed to hear their testimony. We assumed it was to indicate that the Commissioner cared. We thought she was paid to do that, a pointless comment from a committee member that illustrates the lopsided power DCF seems to hold. Ablechild believes this power stems from good old fashion corruption involving behavioral vendors and drug companies. they seem to have an ability to run the legislative process.

Our recommendations during our testimony was to break up the behavioral health oversight committee that reports to the Governor. The oversight committee also makes policy recommendations to the Governor as well as to legislators which includes appropriations. Ablechild sits on that committee and our recommendations continue to fall on deaf, corrupt ears. Not surprised a “technical” name change for the ailing Riverview Psychiatric Ward is all the children get. We strongly recommend empowering and incorporating speech and language specialists within that committee that do not have “behavioral health contracts” with the State or connections with the drug companies, which includes non profit front groups. Split up the behavioral budget to focus on non-drug behavioral health solutions offered by non-drug company vendors. Incorporate the MEDWATCH reporting system as a requirement for this committee to ensure training and education on the Federal Adverse Drug Reporting system, which helps regulates drug safety.

Just a quick refresher flashback to October 20, 2008, testimony before this very same committee from then Attorney General Blumenthal. “if we want real reform at DCF — as we all do — we need a different approach. The General Assembly should mandate.

“A partial breakup of the agency, a complete overhaul of existing management, and the most important a comprehensive outside, objective review” The Attorney General went on to say, “The legislature should require recommended changes by dictating through its appropriations authority how funds are used, linking dollars to sweeping administrative reform.”

Everything this proposed bill doesn’t do.

The point the Attorney General drives home in his testimony in which agrees. “The agency cannot be both contractor and regulator.” Attorney General Blumenthal, “DCF must better perform in the best interest of children. Rearranging the deck chairs cannot right this leaking, listing ship.”

Ablechild recommends that calls be placed to the Select Committee on Children to opposed 5217 as written or incorporate recommendations. A name change just won’t protect children.

Sound Deal on Teacher Evaluations in the State of New York?

In Response to Letter “A Sound Deal on Teacher Evaluations” The New York Times Editorial/Letters Friday, February 17, 2012

A shocking $700 million from the federal “race to the top education program” was given two years ago in exchange for a push for a teacher evaluation program in the State of New York. We are now told a deal has been struck between New York State and the teacher’s union, but more details need to be worked out to break the two year blockage. OMG!

Let’s keep it simple. If you ran a hotel or restaurant and were looking to improve your services and attract new clients, you would ask for feedback to evaluate your current services through an evaluation card or survey. The customer or client would be able to evaluate their experience and rate the service. It is done all the time without spending $700 million dollars.

The New York Governor indicates that he believes holding over the teachers union heads a 4% percent increase in the State education financing penalty combined with the threat of losing federal money will be enough to get the two sides to end the two year blockage? Wait a minute, didn’t the $700 million bribe do that? Parents should be alarmed at the notion of a $700 million dollars tax bill for yet another failed education program “race to the top” that has achieved nothing at the end of two years.

The New York Governor is typically endorsed by the teacher’s union. The union is holding off on that endorsement
Can anyone spell M.O.N.O.P.O.L.Y? Who cares if the union endorses the Governor or not? Since when should we allow tax paid vendors, i.e. teacher’s union, to call all the shots and even pay off our politicians anyway with endorsements? If the unions serve the people with services, they shouldn’t be in the business of endorsing our lawmakers and gatekeepers that make decisions on their contracts. They should focus their attention on improving the quality of their services.

Things will only change when parents and children have a “mutiny on the bounty” and create a source website that gives other parents and children the heads up on bad quality teachers and bad programs. They are public teachers right? Why not make their reviews public? Send the $700 million dollar in federal money back. This will help us stop having to play class warfare to pay these endless Monopoly driven tax bills.

We should all be allowed to pass go and collect our $200. We are all sick and tired of landing on the luxury tax space. It is time to check the rules on the inside of the box. Let’s go rogue and create our own teacher evaluation program. I am sure it won’t cost $700 million dollars.


Sheila Matthews
National Vice President
(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

Billion Dollar Drug Company Law Firm Restructures Connecticut Welfare System

By Bob Fiddaman and Shelia Matthews

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
  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%)


  • Hydroxyzine (2.5%)


  • 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 its DCF 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 JerseyDrinker Biddle & Reath – GlaxoSmithKline attorneys – defended Paxil as local counsel in Philadelphia cases.

OklahomaKaye 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.