From Robert Whitaker's Blog, MAD IN AMERICA, at Psychology Today
"In the past few years, a number of pharmaceutical companies have admitted to federal charges that they illegally
marketed psychiatric medications for non-approved uses, with the companies paying large sums to settle the cases.
Now, a legal complaint filed by the Law Project for Psychiatric Rightsin an Alaskan federal court is raising a
related question. When healthcare providers bill Medicaid for prescriptions of psychiatric drugs to children for non-
approved uses, are they committing Medicaid fraud?
The case, United States ex-rel Law Project for Psychiatric Rights v. Matsutani, was unsealed earlier this year, and
legal papers were recently filed that have brought this novel question -- which obviously has profound implications
for the prescribing of psychiatric medications to poor children and adolescents -- into sharp focus.
The Law Project for Psychiatric Rights (PsychRights) , which is headed by Alaskan attorney James Gottstein, filed its
whistleblower complaint in April 2009. Known as a qui tam lawsuit, PsychRights sued on behalf of the federal
government under the False Claims Act, which allows private individuals to pursue legal complaints against
individuals or companies that are allegedly defrauding the government. In December, the federal government
declined to join PsychRights in the case.
PsychRights named Alaskan state officials, hospitals, mental health agencies, psychiatrists, and pharmacies as
defendants. In its complaint, PsychRights argues that the federal government has agreed to provide Medicaid
reimbursement only for those outpatient drugs that are prescribed for an FDA-approved use or for a use supported
by a medical compendium (such as the DRUGDEX Information System.) PsychRights maintains that the defendants
defrauded the federal government when they billed Medicaid (or the federal Children's Health Insurance Program)
for outpatient drugs that didn't meet this standard.
As part of its complaint, PsychRights identified 16 commonly prescribed psychiatric medications that have no
"medically accepted indication" for youth under 18 years old, and it also identified the limited number of "medically
accepted indications" that exist for 32 other psychiatric drugs. PsychRights compiled this list of "approved" uses by
methodically going through the drug compendiums, and it serves as the evidential heart of the complaint, for it
reveals that psychiatric medications are regularly prescribed to poor children for non-approved uses. PsychRights is asking the federal court to stop this practice (which it argues is harmful), and to pay hefty financial penalties for the fraudulent claims made to date."
Riveting! Thank you, Robert Whitaker.
Read the rest at
Some of our previous posts on Robert Whitaker's views and anti-psych meds articles -
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