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Monday | January 13, 2003

Just Say HMO

More Kids Receiving Psychiatric Drugs
Question of 'Why' Still Unanswered

By Shankar Vedantam
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 14, 2003; Page A01

The number of American children being treated with psychiatric drugs has grown sharply in the past 15 years, tripling from 1987 to 1996 and showing no sign of slowing, researchers said yesterday.

A newly published study, the most comprehensive to date, found that by 1996, more than 6 percent of children were taking drugs such as Prozac, Ritalin and Risperdal, and the researchers said the trajectory continued to rise through 2000.

While the increase may partly reflect better diagnosis of mental illness in children, the authors said they fear that cost-saving techniques by insurance companies, marketing by the pharmaceutical industry and increased demands on parents and doctors may be driving the increase.

"There are fewer options other than medication," said Michael Jellinek, chief of child psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, who reviewed the new study.

Insurers have increased their profits by decreasing the use of psychotherapy, which is more expensive than drugs in the short run, he said. "The insurance system gave an incentive for medications and a disincentive for therapy."


Posted January 13, 2003 08:57 PM | Comments (17)


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