VPR News

John Dillon

(Host) A mental health advocacy group says too many Vermont kids are on psychiatric drugs. The group also says the drug industry has too much influence, and that the state isn’t doing enough to correct the problem.

Ken Libertoff is executive director of the Vermont Association of Mental Health.

(Libertoff) “There has been very little attempt to capture who is prescribing these medications, and what the trends are. It’s our contention that there has been a staggering increase of the use of psychotropic medications over the past decade.”

(Host) Libertoff was joined at a news conference on Wednesday by Lieutenant Governor Brian Dubie and Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin to highlight the problem. Shumlin said the state needs to find out if doctors are over-prescribing the medications.

(Shumlin) “I think it should shock us all that we’re sitting back and just accepting that we’re using psychotropic drugs for our children at an alarming rate, that we’re not looking carefully at why, what the effects are, who’s making the money and who’s making the decisions.”

(Dillon) Libertoff says the state spent $10 million during six months last year on psychiatric drugs for children and adolescents. He said more than 6,000 kids got the medications.

He says a shortage of mental health professionals in Vermont and aggressive marketing by drug companies have led to over-reliance on medications designed for adults that haven’t been tested properly in children