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May 4, 2004

Ortiz Concerned Over Misuse of Psychotropic Drugs

Assemblyman Felix W. Ortiz (D-51st) today announced that he is still pushing for his legislation (A.5760), which would make it illegal for school personnel to recommend psychotropic drugs for children. Ortiz has been fighting at the state level for passage of this legislation for years and is determined to see it become law.

"The appropriateness of force feeding powerful drugs such as Ritalin and others to our children in schools across the country has been highly debated for years. Reports of parents being threatened by school officials with medical neglect and coerced into accepting pharmaceutical treatments for their children has become all too common today," stated Ortiz.

Ortiz first introduced his legislation three years ago as a result of numerous complaints he had received from parents in his district who felt that they were being forced to medicate their children with psychotropic drugs. Parents informed the Assemblyman that school personnel threatened to report them to Child Protective Services agencies for medical neglect if they did not comply with their recommendations.

According to a report issued by IMS, a health care provider, there were nearly 20 million prescriptions written nationally to treat Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in 2000. This number reflected a 35 percent increase in the number of prescriptions written in 1996 and the prescription trend has continued to increase in more recent years. Many serious side effects could occur when these powerful mind altering drugs are being prescribed to younger and younger children. Some side effects may include an inflated sense of accomplishment, insomnia, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting and severe headaches.

The Assemblyman also expressed his concern that the drugs prescribed for those suffering from forms of ADD/ADHD are finding their way into the hands of those looking to abuse the drug or make a profit from it on the street. There are countless cases of kids stealing prescriptions from their siblings to either take themselves or sell to friends. The pills are a popular seller on most college campuses with a price ranging from $1 to $5 a pill.

"Over-prescription of these powerful drugs in our schools has placed the health of our children at risk. There are many options that should be investigated before drugs are forced upon a child and these options are all too often overlooked in the attempt to solve the problem quickly," continued Ortiz.