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Florida Psychiatrist Prescribed Drug Linked to Suicide to 7-Year-Old Broward Boy Who Hanged Himself

Florida’s Department of Children and Families says that a Broward psychiatrist had prescribed a powerful drug that the Food and Drug Administration had linked to an increased risk of suicide in kids to a 7-year-old boy. Gabriel Myers, hanged himself in a shower at his foster home. The Broward boy may have been taking up to three of the four psychiatric drugs prescribed to him at the time of his suicide. Three of the drugs prescribed to him came with FDA “black box” label warnings cautioning about children’s safety when using the drugs. Three of the drugs are not approved to be administered to young children, although they are used for “off label” purposes, which allow doctors to prescribe the drug even without formal approval. Dr. Sohail Punjwani, the psychiatrist who may have treated Gabriel, had reportedly been included on a list of doctors in Florida that the Agency for Health Care Administration had red-flagged for engaging in prescribing practices that were “problematic." His name was on the list during every quarter that regulators have monitored the prescription of psychotropic drugs. About 300-400 of Florida’s 17,000 doctors that prescribe drugs to kids on Medicaid are included on the list. Punjwani says he doesn’t remember Myers, but that he may have been one of a number of people to treat the boy. He says that anti-psychotic drugs are routinely used to treat insomnia and mood instability. Also, per Florida law, a judge or a parent must give consent before a foster child can take a psychotropic drug. Broward Circuit Judge Lisa Porter approved Myer’s medications even though a court-appointed guardian disagreed. The Miami Herald reports that it has seen records indicating that an older boy may have sexually molested Myers. Last Thursday, after getting into an argument with his foster dad’s 19-year-old son, Myers went into a bathroom and used a detachable showerhead to hang himself. The 7-year-old had been prescribed the attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder drug Vyvanse, anti-depressant drug Lexapro, and anti-psychotic drug Zyprexa. The latter two may have recently replaced with Symbyax. Florida lawmakers in 2005 had approved a law curbing the use of dangerous, mind-altering drugs on children. Also, doctors are responsible for making sure they provide the correct drugs and their dosage to patients. They also are supposed to make sure that children and other patients are not given drugs that can lead to adverse side effects. Over two million people a year are hospitalized, injured, or killed in the US because of adverse drug reactions. You or your family may be entitled to Florida medical malpractice or wrongful death compensation. Contact The Law Office of John D. Ameen, P.A. today for your free consultation with one of our Florida wrongful death lawyers.

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