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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Rutgers: Study Examines New Policy that Reduces Anti-Psychotic Medications in Foster Children

A recent Rutgers School of Public Health study found that a Texas strategy to reduce anti-psychotic medication for children can serve as a model for other state Medicaid programs.

“Youth in the U.S. foster care system are about five times more likely to take antipsychotic medications than children in the general public,” said Dr. Thomas Mackie, assistant professor in the Department of Health Behavior, Society and Policy and lead study author. In response, over 31 state Medicaid programs are experimenting with different oversight strategies to ensure safe and judicious use of antipsychotic medications.

The study sought to examine whether an antipsychotic medication oversight strategy in Texas was effective in reducing the number of youth in foster care prescribed antipsychotic medications off-label to manage symptoms of conditions such as conduct disorders or attention hyperactivity disorders, while not decreasing use for disorders with U.S. Food and Drug Admnistration (FDA) indications, such as bipolar disorder or autism spectrum disorders.

The researchers found the program resulted in roughly a 5 to 8 percent reduction in antipsychotic use for youth treated off-label for conditions like conduct or attention hyperactivity disorders, whereas no significant changes were found for youth treated for FDA-indicated conditions.

“Although the Texas model enrolled only youths in foster care, similar innovations are increasingly being extended to the general population of Medicaid-insured youth,” Dr. Mackie said.  “This study provides important new evidence suggesting that states continue to incorporate or renew the inclusion of these additional behavioral health services into Medicaid-managed care arrangements.”

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