Last year, a 7-year-old foster boy named Gabriel Myers committed suicide in Florida and, after reams of publicity and hand-wringing over the use of psychotropic medications in such children, a state task force recommended, among other things, that children never be allowed to participate in a clinical trial designed to evaluate new psychotropic meds or whether such drugs approved for adults should be given to children.
Now, the Senate Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, chaired by Democratic Sen. Daniel Akaka of Hawaii, has asked the Government Accountability Office to look into the drugging of foster care children. The investigators will attempt to account for estimates in the hundreds of millions of dollars of possible fraud arising from prescriptions for drugs explicitly barred from Medicaid coverage. The GAO is collecting data from Oregon, Massachusetts, Florida, Maryland, Minnesota, and Texas, to search for patterns of abuse.
Florida lawmakers are scheduled to discuss a measure Tuesday designed to curb the prescription of mental-health drugs to children in state care. Senate Bill 2718, also known as the Gabriel Myers Bill, would allow officials to more closely monitor the powerful psychiatric drugs dispensed to Florida foster care children.
The apparent suicide of 7-year-old boy Gabriel Myers, who was taking several psychiatric medications, has led to the introduction of a bill in the Florida legislature, which would assure that powerful mental health drugs dispensed to Florida foster care children would be more closely monitored.
Gabriel Myer’s death on April 15 roiled child advocates, critics of the pharmaceutical industry, the media. But this week, a child’s suicide finally elicited a reaction where it matters. “I tell you, we’re going to do something. We’re going to do a full-court press,” said Florida State Sen. Tony Hill, a Jacksonville Democrat, still shocked after members of the Senate Children, Families and Elder Affairs Committee were briefed Wednesday by the Gabriel Myers Task Force.