Schools Push Too Many Mood Drugs, House Told

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), May 7, 2003 | Go to article overview

Schools Push Too Many Mood Drugs, House Told


Byline: George Archibald, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Too many children are being labeled for attention-deficit (hyperactivity) disorder and improperly placed on psychotropic drugs such as Ritalin and Adderall to be "calmed down," a House panel was told yesterday.

Most child-health specialists agree that about 2 percent of schoolchildren "are so pervasively overactive or inattentive that they are very difficult for anyone to manage." But up to 17 percent of schoolchidlren are being labeled for attention-deficit (hyperactivity) disorder, or ADHD, said Dr. William B. Carey, director of behavioral pediatrics at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

"Why is 80 percent of the world's methylphenidate being fed to American children?" Dr. Carey asked the House Education and the work force subcommittee on education reform.

Congress has found that, in many cases, school officials are requiring parents to place their children on psychotropic medication as a condition for remaining in the classroom, said Rep. Michael N. Castle, Delaware Republican and subcommittee chairman.

"However, these drugs have the potential for serious harm and abuse. They are listed on Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act. Drugs are placed on Schedule II when the drug has a high potential for abuse or may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence," Mr. Castle said.

Psychotropic drugs are defined as having an altering effect on the mind, and include hallucinogens and tranquilizers.

The House subcommittee is considering legislation to prohibit school personnel from requiring children to take such drugs. The prohibition was added last week to a House-passed bill to reauthorize the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, but supporters want the prohibition to apply to all federally funded school programs.

"Parents ... should never be forced to decide between getting their child into school and keeping their child off potentially harmful drugs," Mr. Castle said. "School personnel should never presume to know the medication needs of a child.

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