As San Diego child injury lawyers, we are concerned by reports that children
in California’s foster care system are being overprescribed powerful
first detailed by Mercury News, the relationship between the pharmaceutical industry and physicians who
treat California’s foster children is cause for concern. The newspaper’s
investigation revealed that doctors who prescribe medications to these
vulnerable children are frequent recipients of payments from drug companies,
often in the form of gifts and remuneration for meals, travel, speaking
engagements and medical research.
According to Mercury News, pharmaceutical companies gifted more than $14
million to California doctors who treat foster children from 2010 to 2013.
While many physicians are courted by the pharmaceutical industry, the
figure is nearly double what drug makers gave to the typical California
The investigation also revealed that the drug companies rewarded frequent
prescribers. Doctors who wrote more than 75 prescriptions to foster children
in a year received more payments than those who wrote fewer.
“These figures suggest these doctors are not looking out primarily
for the kids’ interests,” UCLA social welfare professor David
Cohen told Mercury News. “They suggest many doctors are looking
out for their financial interests, and we should all be wary.”
Following the report, advocacy group Consumer Watchdog called on California
lawmakers to investigate the misuse of psychotropic medication in the
foster care system. To protect all patients and eliminate conflicts of
interest, the group has also urged the state legislature to pass a law
expressly prohibiting payments by pharmaceutical companies to doctors.
Late last month, Senators Mike McGuire and Jim Beall conducted a joint
legislative hearing on the issue. According to Consumer Watchdog, lawmakers
are also considering legislation to require the collection and review
of data regarding the prescribing of psychotropic medications to foster
children. We will be closely following this issue and will provide updates
as they become available.