Citizens Committee on Human Rights

The Mental Health Watchdog

Australian National Office

Alarm as More Kids on Antidepressants

little girl cuddling orange soft toy“Alarm as more kids on anti-depressants” Herald Sun, 30 May 2011, read the full article on the Herald Sun website.

Download the statistics of the numbers of children on antidepressants obtained from the Department of Health and Ageing.

Investigation into prescribing of antidepressants to Australian children a psychiatric farce

Regardless of drug regulatory agencies the world over, including Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration, warning of the serious risks–including suicide–in children and adolescents being prescribed antidepressants, even 2 year olds are being prescribed them here! In December 2008, CCHR obtained and exposed statistics from the Department of Health and Ageing that nearly 4,000 children under 10 (including 48 babies) were on antidepressants in Australia. In the wake of subsequent uproar, the Federal Health Minister was forced to launch an investigation into prescribing antidepressants to children. A lot of good that has done considering that the statistics have just continued to soar!

It wasn’t like the Department was eager to report the results of its “investigation” with a committee that included representatives of the Royal College of Psychiatrists. CCHR wrote trying to get the information but ended up having to file a Freedom of Information request–at a cost of over $514 to get the truth. What happened about “transparency” and Australian consumers or their parents being given “full information” (informed consent?).

As the not-so revelatory documents showed:

  • Only 2 meetings were held (shows how concerned psychiatrists are about toddlers being given mind-altering drugs).
  • The names of Committee Members who represented the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, Australian Medical Association and the Royal Australian College of Physicians were withheld. Yet the Minutes one meeting stated, “Individual members were providing advice from their individual professional perspective rather than the views of their professional organisations.” So, why can’t Australians know who is making that “advice” about such healthcare concerns?
  • Conflicts of Interest Forms for the Committee members were not held by the DOH & A or they no longer existed. Again, where’s the transparency?
  • When asked for the recommendations of this “federal investigation” the DOH & A seems to have placed such little concern about this child-drugging situation, that they can’t even find any recommendations implemented from it: They wrote on 22 February 2011, “Despite an extensive search, the Department has been unable to identify any document relevant to the request” so the “documents sought do not exist or cannot be found.”

Here you can read the Outcomes Statement regarding only 2 meetings held.

And here is the reply from the Department of Health and Ageing to our Freedom of Information request regarding Conflicts of Interest.

Finally, the reply from the Department of Health and Ageing to our Freedom of Information request regarding what recommendations have been implemented.

Psychiatric Hypocrisy over Child Drug Concerns

In 2008, the federal health ministry responded to media reports on increasing antidepressant prescriptions to children when the drugs can induce suicide. Yet another committee was announced it would investigate. Representatives of the Committee included someone from the RANZCP –who the Dept. of Health & Ageing for some reason cannot disclose! So, surprisingly–well, probably not so–when the latest figures of increasing child antidepressant use for the ages 2 — 6 use was exposed in the media, quoted was Dr. Philip Brock, Chair of Faculty of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at RANZCP. He said, “I have written to the government asking if figures in this age group are valid. The fact we are still seeing this kind of data demands an answer.” Really? Isn’t that what the College or individual members of the 2008-2009 federal investigation were supposed to look into and make recommendations to curb? CCHR has lodged a complaint with RANZCP asking how they can be publicly demanding answers when they were part of the investigation.

You can see the CCHR complaint letter to Dr Philip Brock at the RANZCP here.

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