Analysis: Large Part of Prison Rx Spending Goes Toward Anti-Psychotics
In recent years, California has spent significantly more on anti-psychotic medications for inmates than other states with large prison systems, the AP/Washington Post reports (AP/Washington Post, 5/1).
Findings of AP Analysis
According to records obtained by the Associated Press, anti-psychotic drugs account for nearly $1 of every $5 spent on pharmaceuticals for the state prison system.
From 2009 to 2011, California spent about 26% of its prison pharmaceutical budget on anti-psychotics. Meanwhile, New York spent about 17% of its prison pharmaceutical budget on all psychotropic medications -- which include drugs like sedatives and antidepressants, in addition to anti-psychotics -- during that time.
In 2012, Californiaâs spending on anti-psychotics dropped to 20% of its prison pharmaceutical budget In comparison, Texas spent 6% of its prison pharmaceutical budget on all psychotropic drugs that year, according to the AP.
California corrections officials said they have no reason to believe that the state overprescribes anti-psychotics to inmates.
Sharon Aungst -- former chief deputy secretary for the California Correctional Health Care Services -- said such treatments are driven largely by lawsuits, federal court orders and federal overseers.
According to Aungst, prison health care workers practice "defensive medicine" for fear of violating federal court orders or prompting a lawsuit.Meanwhile, J. Clark Kelso -- the federal receiver who oversees California's prison health care system -- said, "Anybody who comes in on mental health (referrals), we put on a psychotropic," adding that "[a] lot of it, I think, we overprescribe" (AP/Washington Post, 5/1). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.