The Dallas Morning News recently published a troubling story about Texas foster children whose doctors have financial ties to drug manufacturers. The doctors prescribe drugs made by these companies. Here are the opening paragraphs of the story:
One in three Texas foster children has been diagnosed with mental illness and prescribed mind-altering drugs, including some that the federal government has not approved for juveniles, state records show.
Many of these drugs are prescribed by doctors who have a financial stake in pharmaceutical companies’ success, a Dallas Morning News investigation has found. Dozens of physicians who treat children in state custody supplement their salaries with tens of thousands of dollars in consulting and speakers’ fees, and they use drug company grants to fund their research projects.
Accepting this money is not illegal, nor is it frowned upon in most medical circles. Many of the state’s leading medical experts receive income or grants from drug companies, money that has funded groundbreaking scientific advances. And financial ties between doctors and pharmaceutical firms are frequently self-reported by physicians on their Web sites, conference programs and journal articles.
But while the psychiatric drugs given to foster children cost millions of taxpayer dollars a year, it’s hard to know how much the doctors prescribing them are making from pharmaceutical companies. Texas, like most states, does not require disclosure.