By LUCETTE LAGNADO
The Wall Street Journal
Originally published August 12, 2013
Federal health officials have launched a probe into the use of antipsychotic drugs on children in the Medicaid system, amid concern that the medications are being prescribed too often to treat behavioral problems in the very young.
The inspector general's office at Department of Health and Human Services says it recently began a review of antipsychotic-drug use by Medicaid recipients age 17 and under. And various agencies within HHS are requiring officials in all 50 states to tighten oversight of prescriptions for such drugs to Medicaid-eligible young people.
The effort applies to a newer class of antipsychotic drugs known as "atypicals," which include Abilify, the nation's No. 1 prescription drug by sales. The drugs were originally developed to treat psychoses such as schizophrenia, but some now have Food and Drug Administration approval for treatment of children with conditions such as bipolar disorder and irritability associated with autism.
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