A lawsuit states that immigrant children in the custody of one treatment center in Texas were forced to take strong antipsychotic drugs without their parents' consent.
The children reportedly experienced nausea, became obese, lethargic, and in extreme cases became incapacitated according to affidavits from parents and children.
The lawsuit, filed on April 23 in U.S. District Court in California, named the erring side as the Shiloh Treatment Center.
The affidavits described several instances where children were allegedly held down to forcibly be injected with the drugs or be compelled to ingest the medications. The children were reportedly told that they would not be freed or reunited with their parents if they don't take the medicines. One child was told the medications were just vitamins for weight gain.
"The vitamins changed about two times, and each time I feel different," one child said.
The lawsuit has 420 pages and the copy of which was first obtained and reported by Reveal News from the Center For Investigative Reporting. The affidavits were filed in connection with an ongoing class-action lawsuit, claiming that immigrant children under the custody of the United States were being poorly treated.
An attorney, who represents the children, said separation from parents made children, angry, depressed, and anxious. Hence, the children were prescribed with these medications.
In one case, a child was allegedly injected with 10 different drugs and pills. The drugs include Latuda, Geodon, Olanzapine, and Benztropine, which is supposed to treat Parkinson's.
The same child was also prescribed Clonazepam and Divalproex, which are both for nerve pain. The kid was also asked to take the antidepressant Duloxetine and Guanfacine, which is supposed to enhance cognition.
One parent, meanwhile, said she consistently objected to having her kid drink anything. She also did not sign any consent for the center to administer any drug to her son.
"It looks like they're (the center) trying to control agitation and aggressive behavior with antipsychotic drugs," said Mark Mills, a forensic psychiatrist who assessed the statements contained in the affidavits.
Mills had previously handled a case that called for the government to stop administering antipsychotic drugs to deportees.
"The facility should not use these drugs to control behavior. That's not what antipsychotics should be used for," Mills said, adding that the drugs' side effects include weight gain and diabetes.
Prescription Of Antipsychotic Drugs
In April, the Swansea University released a study saying children with serious mental problems such as schizophrenia are more likely to be prescribed with antipsychotic medication. Those with disruptive behavior, mostly caused by autism, were also administered with drugs to reduce their aggression and manage their temper.
However, the study published in The Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology also noted that young people who are on antipsychotics, with or without mental problems, were mostly admitted to hospitals due to epilepsy, diabetes, and respiratory infection.
"[T]reating behavioral problems in this way can have long-term health implications for the individual and for those who care for them," the study warned.
What Are The Adverse Effects?
In 2012, a separate research said Food and Drug Administration approved the use of antipsychotic medications for children and adolescents who were showing severe emotional and behavioral disorders.
The study mentioned that FDA approved the certain medication for children with schizophrenia and children with aggression caused by autism. Other medications were also approved for bipolar disorder.
Nevertheless, even with the approval, the board warned about adverse effects that include weight gain, drowsiness, and increased risk of diabetes.