Sixteen months after 7-year-old Gabriel Myers committed suicide while taking psychotropic drugs, the state of Florida has banned allowing any children in the state’s custody from participating in clinical drug trials.
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.
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.