Is Informed Consent A Good Idea?
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NJ Informed Consent Bill Stymied By Senator
By Ed Silverman
October 15th, 2008
NJ Senator Joe Vitale – blocking informed consent bill – refuses to come to phone
Three years ago, the FDA required makers of antidepressants to supply Med Guides along with their pills. That wasn’t good enough for a couple of New Jersey moms, who have been pushing their state legislature to go further – a bill requiring a doctor or nurse to obtain informed consent from a minor’s parent before writing a prescription for any psychotropic that already carries a Black Box warning.
In fact, thanks to their urgings, a bill has been kicking around the state legislature for nearly two years and passed the assembly. However, the state senator who heads the Senate health committee, Joe Vitale, has repeatedly failed to schedule the bill for a vote (here’s the bill and the assembly version). Last fall, he told us the bill would move forward, but it never did. And Vitale has failed to schedule the bill for a vote tomorrow, when the committee will hold its next meeting.
His opposition has frustrated the bill’s sponsor, State Senator Shirley Turner. “When there are serious or severe side effects with some of the medicines being prescribed, a parent has the right to know what those side effects may be. Many times you get literature with the medication that describes possible side effects, but sometimes people don’t read them. This would be an extra precautionary step,” she tells us. “Information is power and we need to empower parents with all available information when it comes to drug prescriptions for their children.”
One of the moms is, not surprisingly, upset. “This bill is about ensuring that parents or guardians, who are the primary monitors of a child’s reaction to this category of drugs, have the information provided by the FDA ‘Black Box’ warning,” says Laurie Yorke, who also happens to be a nurse. “They need to be aware that problematic behavior may be directly related to the drugs use.”
For his part, Vitale refuses to come to the phone to explain his decision. Do contributions from drugmakers have anything to do with it? Vitale gets money from lots of sources, so you can speculate yourself by gazing at his lists of contributors. Meanwhile, what do you think?