Sunday, July 30, 2006

: Are Your Children Crazy?

http://www.healthsentinel.com/org_news.php?id=101&title=Are+Your+Children+Crazy%3F&event=org_news_print_list_item

"Are Your Children Crazy?"
Health Sentinel
Dr. Jane M. Orient
July 27, 2006

Congress and President Bush apparently think that a lot of children have a "mental health" problem. Or that enough of them do to justify taking millions of dollars from taxpayers to fund a universal "mental health screening" for children, and eventually for everyone.

Personally, I think - from the perspective of a person who never had any - that almost all children act crazy. Those who don't are, by definition, abnormal, because they don't act like the others.

The main problem with about half of them is that they are boys. Such children are obviously made of snips and snails and puppy dog tails. On the farm there is a solution for that: a procedure for turning boy lambs into non-ram lambs. After a quick little operation, they act like peaceful little lambs instead of aggressive, disruptive rams.

We don't do surgery like that on little boys, of course, but we do have our methods: such as behavioral therapy and chemicals.

There are those who argue with some passion that society has to do something. Bad, disruptive, antisocial or depressed little kids make lots of trouble for parents and schoolteachers. Worse, they can grow up into dysfunctional, unhappy or troublemaking adults. That snotty little boy might become a dissenting nonconformist or even a rebellious man, who could throw a monkey wrench into our smoothly functioning society. We have to catch them early - for their own good.

Teams of experts are awaiting the infusion of cash. They'll be ensconced in your child's school before you even know it. A bonus is that your little darlings will probably give them quite a bit of information about you also, and then you too can receive therapy you didn't know you needed.
Do you sometimes raise your voice? Ever spank them? Hug them inappropriately? Have politically incorrect attitudes? Use forbidden words? Own a gun? Smoke cigarettes, especially indoors? Read extremist literature? Refuse to recycle? Prepare for a knock on the door.

There are many tools at the disposal of the mental health squad. Counseling sessions. Drugs (Ritalin, antidepressants, tranquilizers, maybe some new ones that need to be tested on some experimental subjects of your child's age). Group therapy. Removing the child from the home. (This may be a "last resort," but often the mere threat can accomplish wonders.)

If an interview with a child raises concerns, the next step might be a home visit. This could discover poor parenting skills, inadequate housekeeping, harmful literature, or a baby who is crying or has a bruise (signs of abuse?).

It is true that some interventions have potential side effects, say drug dependence or suicide, but to assure the health of the population some shared sacrifice and risk are needed. We will have excellent means of tracking outcomes to improve future therapies. The mental health workers' impressions will all be recorded in the school records. An added benefit could accrue to would-be employers or college recruiters.

Some cautions are in order. Democrats might think that potential future Republicans are crazy. Republicans might think the opposite. Should an extremist Christian be one of the screeners, he might think that nonbelievers are possessed by the devil. And an extremist secular humanist (if such exist) might think that an overly religious child is at risk for mental illness if not already impaired.

In fact, parents ought to be asking some very serious questions before the government experts interview the first child.

What are the credentials of the screeners? Most importantly, how many children have they raised to adulthood, and with what outcome?

What are the criteria for possible abnormality? What is the scientific validation? How often do different observers agree? Have any long-term studies shown a solid correlation with adult performance in life? Do today's oddball children fail, or might they turn into our greatest achievers?

Will you be allowed to get a second opinion? Can you see the record and enter corrections if indicated? Will the record at any point be destroyed, or will the stigma of a diagnosis such as "personality disorder" follow the child throughout life?

What will happen if your child fails the screen? What sort of treatment will be given? Who will supervise it? What if you don't approve of it?

What's the very worst thing that the program will have the power to do to you or your child, say if your worst enemy were to gain control of it?

Who might profit from the program (perhaps discoverable by asking who lobbied for it)? Do drug companies expect to have a large number of new consumers of their psychoactive drugs?

What are the results of studies of long-term use of drugs like Ritalin, which has effects on the brain similar to those of cocaine? Have there even been any such studies?

Can you refuse to participate in the program? If you do refuse, what are the repercussions?

What is the evidence that the program, at best, will be anything other than a waste of millions of dollars? Miraculously, throughout human history most of those crazy children have become stable, productive adults without federally mandated psychiatric treatment. Still more amazingly, their parents have managed also.

Psychiatry in the hands of government, instead of independent physicians who are working for patients, reeks of Orwell's 1984 or the Soviet era. The very need to ask the questions should tell us the right answer for this program: It's crazy.

Dr. Jane M. Orient is an internist practicing in Tucson, AZ and executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons.




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American Psychological Association Under Fire

Psychologists' group under fire for interrogation policy

Aiding military called 'incongruous' with human rights concerns

Thursday, July 27, 2006; Posted: 3:59 p.m. EDT (19:59 GMT)

CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- The American Psychological Association is under fire from some of its members and other professionals for declaring that it is permissible for psychologists to assist in military interrogations.

An online petition against the group's policy has garnered more than 1,300 signatures from members and other psychologists. Protest forums are being planned for the APA's convention next month in New Orleans, Louisiana. And some members have threatened to withhold dues or quit.

The unrest stems from an APA policy, issued last year, that says that while psychologists should not get involved in torture or other degrading treatment, it is ethical for them to act as consultants to interrogation and information-gathering for national security purposes.

That stand troubles some members of the organization in light of the reported abuses at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and elsewhere.

"The issue is being couched as psychologists helping out with national security at the same time that psychologists are opposed to the issue of torture," said Chicago psychologist William Gorman, an APA member who signed the petition and works with refugee survivors of torture. "That stance in the present context appears to me incongruous."

News reports have said that mental health specialists who are helping U.S. military interrogators have helped create coercive techniques, including sleep deprivation and playing on detainees' phobias, to extract information.

The American Medical Association last month adopted what many view as a stronger stand against physician involvement in prisoner interrogation, echoing a position held by the American Psychiatric Association, whose members are medical doctors. The U.S. military has indicated it will therefore favor using psychologists, who are not medical doctors and are not bound by the other groups' policies.

The Physicians for Human Rights, a Cambridge, Massachusetts.-based advocacy group, issued a statement Wednesday urging APA leaders to "explicitly prohibit psychologists from participating in interrogations."

Salon.com reported Wednesday that six of the 10 people on the APA task force that drafted the psychologists' policy have close military ties, including four who have worked at Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib or Afghanistan.

New York psychologist Steven Reisner, an APA member and vocal opponent of the policy, said those ties make the group's stance even more troubling.

Gerald Koocher, APA's president, said that none of the task force members were involved in torture and that their military ties were not a conflict of interest.

Some professionals, including Reisner, a faculty member at Columbia University's International Trauma Studies program and at New York University's medical school, want the 150,000-member organization to rewrite the group's ethics code to bar psychologists from any involvement in detainee interrogation.

Reisner said fliers and forums are being prepared for the group's Aug. 10-13 convention "to generate a momentum of embarrassment and outrage that the APA has thus far been facilitating these interrogations rather than stopping the violations of human rights."

Responding to member concerns, the APA's ethics committee is drawing up guidance on what constitutes appropriate and inappropriate behavior by psychologists involved in interrogations, Koocher said.

The APA also said that its governing council is expected to vote on a resolution on Aug. 9, a day before the convention, reaffirming the group's opposition to torture and other inhumane treatment.

The group also has invited Lt. Gen. Kevin C. Kiley, the Army's surgeon general, to attend the convention and answer questions about military use of psychologists.

(Protected by fair use.)


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Local suit blames drug for suicides - Lexapro

Local suit blames drug for suicides

Parents believe antidepressant Lexapro caused both sons to kill themselves 17 months apart

By Tracy Wheeler
Beacon Journal medical writer

In the span of 17 months, Mark and Lucy Bibbee lost two sons -- their only children -- to suicide.

David Bibbee, who had been battling bipolar disorder, was 27 when he took his own life on Feb. 23, 2003, in his father's Stow home.

Brian Bibbee, who sought medical help for attention deficit disorder, was 24 when he died on July 24, 2004, in his mother's Cuyahoga Falls home.

In addition to being brothers, the two men had something else in common: Both were taking Lexapro, an antidepressant that has been linked to an increased risk of suicide.

Last week, David and Brian Bibbee's father, Mark, filed suit in Summit County Common Pleas Court against the drug's manufacturer, New York-based Forest Laboratories Inc.

The lawsuit claims that Forest Laboratories knew of the increased risk of suicide in a small subset of patients, yet failed to conduct tests to see how often the problem developed. The lawsuit also claims that the company failed to properly warn doctors, pharmacists and patients of the risk or provide ways to reduce the risk.

Mark and Lucy Bibbee ``believe this drug was the cause of both of their sons' deaths,'' said attorney Charles E. Grisi. ``They're pursuing this... in hopes no other family will have to experience this tragedy.''

Lexapro is an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) drug. According to Forest Laboratories, it is used to treat both depression and generalized anxiety disorder in more than 12 million U.S. adults.

In 2005, Lexapro sales accounted for $1.87 billion of Forest Laboratories' $2.96 billion in revenues.

According to the lawsuit, a link between SSRIs and suicide was first noted in 1990 by Harvard psychiatrists. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration didn't issue a public health warning until March 2004 -- more than a year after David's death and about four months before Brian's.

``Strong warnings and instructions, coupled with reasonable effort to `get the word out' could still have saved Brian Bibbee's life,'' the lawsuit says. ``Unfortunately, Forest took the path of least resistance and greatest profits by doing only the minimum amount that the FDA urged it to do. Therefore, this warning was `too little, too late' for David and Brian Bibbee.''

The lawsuit contends that Forest could have strengthened the FDA warning -- as drug-maker Wyeth did in drawing attention to suicide risks in children taking Effexor -- but chose not to.

``Forest could and should have done the same about the risk of Lexapro-induced adult suicidality, long before David and Brian Bibbee began taking Lexapro,'' the suit says.

Phone messages left with Forest Laboratories on Tuesday afternoon were not returned.

Despite the FDA warning in 2004, the medical literature has been unclear on the question of SSRIs and suicide.

An article in the January issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry found that ``available data do not indicate a significant increase in the risk of suicide or serious suicide attempt after starting treatment with newer antidepressant drugs.''

However, an article in the July 21, 2004, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association found the risk of suicidal behavior increased in the first month after starting antidepressants, especially during the first nine days.

An FDA patient information sheet says: ``Persons taking Lexapro may be more likely to think about killing themselves or actually try to do so, especially when Lexapro is first started or the dose is changed. People close to persons taking Lexapro can help by paying attention to changes in user's moods or actions. Contact your health-care professional right away if someone using Lexapro talks about or shows signs of killing him or herself. If you are taking Lexapro yourself and you start thinking about killing yourself, tell your health-care professional about this side effect right away.''

Tracy Wheeler can be reached at 330-996-3721 or tawheeler(at)thebeaconjournal.com.

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http://www.corporatecrimereporter.com/nissen072406.htm

CORPORATE CRIME REPORTER
Cleveland Clinic's Dr. Nissen Meet FDA's Dr. Gottlieb
20 Corporate Crime Reporter 31(1), July 24, 2006
It was an uncomfortable moment.
There they sat – next to each other.
Dr. Steven Nissen, chairman of the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation.

And Dr. Scott Gottlieb, deputy commissioner for Medical and Scientific Affairs at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Next to each other they sat.
Fidgeting.
Nervous.
Dr. Nissen and Dr. Gottlieb – along with four others gathered to discuss the question: “Government Science Panels: Fair and Balanced”?

The panel was moderated by a reporter – National Public Radio’s Snigdha Prakash.
The panel was sponsored by the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which the day before had released a report – Ensuring Independence and Objectivity at the National Academies.

The report found that nearly one our of every five scientists appointed to National Academy of Sciences panels has direct financial ties to companies or industry groups with a direct stake in the outcome of the study.

But Cleveland Clinic’s Dr. Nissen said he wanted to go beyond the narrow topic the panel was brought together to discuss.

Dr. Nissen wanted to address the bigger issue of the “imbalance of power between the FDA and industry.”

“The American people no longer trust the FDA to protect their health,” Dr. Nissen said. “Patients are increasingly suspicious of drug therapy and sometimes reluctant to accept potentially life-saving medications. How did we get into this predicament.”

Dr. Gottlieb squirms.

The entire FDA budget for drug regulation is about $500 million and relies extensively on user fees, Dr. Nissen said.

As a result, the FDA is financially indebted to the companies it must regulate.

Forget about NAS panels.

This is the elephant in the room – the big conflict of interest.

“Industry spends more than $48 billion on marketing, complete with a dazzling array of direct to consumer advertising touting the latest sleeping pills or even creating entirely new diseases like ‘restless leg syndrome,’” Dr. Nissen said.

We must adequately fund the FDA – without user fees, Dr. Nissen said.
And plus, the FDA needs new laws to strengthen its authority over the industry.

Dr. Gottlieb fidgets.

“Currently, the FDA must negotiate with industry to make even simple changes in drug labels,” Dr. Nissen said.

“When drug studies reveal toxicity or lack of efficacy, the FDA is not permitted to release the results and the findings are often not published, thereby denying patients and physicians access to vitally important safety information. Why has the FDA not sought to strengthen its regulatory authority?" Dr. Nissen asks. "Well, that brings up yet another conflict of interest problem, evident at the highest levels of the FDA.”

The FDA’s Dr. Gottlieb nervously checks his Blackberry-like device.

He doesn’t like what he sees coming.

Dr. Nissen starts at the top.

“For years, we had an interim FDA Commissioner, Lester Crawford, who shortly after confirmation, abruptly resigns, apparently because he and his wife owned stock in regulated companies,” he says.

“Then the administration appointed Andrew Von Eschenbach as interim commissioner, creating another conflict,”

Dr. Nissen says. “In his role as director of the National Cancer Institute, Von Eschenbach must seek FDA approval for human testing or approval of new cancer drugs, an obvious conflict.”
Dr. Gottlieb is not happy.

“Even worse, the administration appointed Scott Gottlieb as deputy commissioner,” Dr. Nissen says. “He came to this job with no regulatory experience, directly from Wall Street, where he served as a biotech analyst and stock promoter. Between them, Drs. Von Eschenbach and Gottlieb have whined incessantly about the need to speed drug development. So while the American people worry about the safety of drugs, the top FDA leadership tells us we need faster drug approval.”

Dr. Nissen speed reads through the remainder of his talk.

FDA’s Dr. Gottlieb is next.

And he’s still not happy.

But he gets up and brushes off the criticism with – I know nothing about what Dr. Nissen said – I’ll stick to the subject at hand and delivers his prepared remarks.

In November 2005, the Boston Globe reported that Dr. Gottlieb worked for the public relations firm of Manning Selvage & Lee and had corporate clients that included Roche, the manufacturer of the antiviral Tamiflu, and Sanofi-Aventis, parent company of the nation's sole flu vaccine manufacturer.

Other firms he was involved with, according to the Globe, included Inamed Corp., one of two companies seeking to return silicone gel implants to the market – and VaxGen Inc., a California firm that won a $878 million federal contract to supply 75 million doses of anthrax vaccine for the nation's protective stockpile.

During the question and answer period, Dr. Gottlieb was asked about Dr. Nissen’s remarks and about the conflicts.

The question was prefaced with some facts from a 2005 newspaper report.
Dr. Gottlieb used to work at the American Enterprise Institute and he authored a column called the Forbes/Gottlieb Biotech Investor.

And he had a blog called the fdainsider.com – since shut down.

Back in September 2005, the Daily Deal newspaper warned that “watchdogs should keep an eye on Gottlieb’s relations with former clients.”

“His recent writing is rife with potential conflicts,” according to the report by Alex Lash of the Daily Deal. “For example in an AEI paper, Gottlieb cites VaxGen as a victim of political meddling. In a footnote, he adds that he did consulting work for the company. And his Forbes columns are tagged with similar warnings that he ‘may own stock or consult with firms’ affiliated with his coverage.”

So, what about it Dr. Gottlieb?

“I’m not going to dignify the whole question – it’s not really a question – it’s a statement,” Dr. Gottlieb shoots back. “But I complied with every requirement that was put on me. And that’s not what I came here to discuss. I came here to discuss how we can move the agenda forward at the agency in dealing with some of these difficult issues related to these kinds of perception problems. And we’re doing just that.”

The reporter wants to ask follow up question about the perception problem, about Dr. Nissen’s observation that the practice of having industry people like Dr. Gottlieb in positions of authority at the FDA is perpetuating the problem – in fact is an integral part of the problem.

But NPR reporter Prakash wouldn’t allow the follow up.

“I think we should move on,” she says.

Let's just move on.

Monday, July 10, 2006

http://www.local10.com/health/9483114/detail.html Doctor Offers Alternative To Ritalin For Kids With ADD, ADHDProgram Uses Exercise, MovementPOSTED: 11:31 am EDT July 7, 2006
UPDATED: 11:34 am EDT July 7, 2006

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- The use of drugs to treat mood and behavior disorders in children is rising dramatically. It's estimated that nearly 10 million school-age children are on stimulant drugs such as Ritalin to treat Attention Deficit Disorder and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

While some experts say medication is the best treatment option, a South Florida doctor is pushing a different approach.
Boca Raton psychologist Dr. Brian Sheen has developed a program called Clear Minded Children.
"We teach them how to relax," Sheen said. "We teach them how to focus. We teach them how to concentrate and direct their mind -- how to interact and make better choices."

The program focuses on exercise and movement. Kids mimic some of their favorite activities and relax through fluid yoga poses.

"Every parent with a kid who's been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD knows if you want to get a quick change in their behavior and attitude, get them out doing a bunch of exercises," Sheen said.

But Sheen said that the key to success is parental involvement. "Without fail, the kids whose families get involved in these programs improve without ever having to go on medications," said Sheen.

It worked for 14-year-old Keenan Roth. At one point, his teachers urged his mother to put him on Ritalin. Instead, she brought him to Dr. Sheen. Since then, Keenan's grades and attitude at school have improved dramatically.

"I'm not a hundred percent," Keenan said. "But I'm a lot better!"
For more information on Sheen's program, call 561-272-3733.
Copyright 2006 by Local10.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

Woman 'zinged' after missing Effexor

So missing one dose is enough to get you into trouble.....



http://www.heraldtribune.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060708/NEWS/607080563/1006/SPORTS



Article published Jul 8, 2006


Woman 'zinged' after missing Effexor


Q My 26-year-old daughter has been on Effexor for a little more than one year for anxiety. Recently, she forgot a dose, and the following day she experienced what she described as an electrical sensation from her feet to her head. She described it as a "zing."

The sensation went away when she took the required dose that evening. She is on the lowest dose of Effexor and would like to stop taking it before getting pregnant. Should she be concerned about stopping this medication?

A She should discuss her plan to start a family with her doctor, since she might need help getting off Effexor.

New data suggest that when pregnant women take some Prozac-like antidepressants, the risk of heart and lung complications in newborns may increase.

The electrical "zing" she experienced is sometimes mentioned when people describe what happens when they stop taking this or similar drugs. Effexor lasts such a short time in the body that even a missed dose might trigger withdrawal symptoms.




FAIR USE NOTICE: This may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.




Bush's Mental Illness Screening Squad On the Move

http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0607/S00120.htm
Bush’s Mental Illness Screening Squad On the Move
Monday, 10 July 2006, 12:19 pm
Opinion: Evelyn Pringle 

 

Bush’s Mental Illness Screening Squad On the Move

 

By Evelyn Pringle
The tax dollar funded mental health screening programs popping up in every corner of the nation represent an enormous gift to Big Pharma from the Bush administration. After all, drug companies can't push drugs without a lucrative customer base, so the screening programs are a great solution for that little problem.

 

On April 29, 2002, Bush kicked off the whole mental health screening scheme when he announced the establishment of the New Freedom Commission (NFC) during a speech in in New Mexico where he told the audience that mental health centers and hospitals, homeless shelters, and the justice and school systems, have contact with individuals suffering from mental disorders but that too many Americans are falling through the cracks, and so he created the NFC to ensure “that the cracks are closed.”

 

In words relevant here, the late President Ronald Reagan aptly described government intervention this way: "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, “I'm from the government and I'm here to help."

 

According to award-winning investigative reporter, Kelly O’Meara: “Nowhere is this quote more appropriate than when applied to George W. Bush's New Freedom Commission on Mental Heath.”

 

A little over a year after Bush announced the formation of the NFC, on July 22, 2003, government report was released that called for redesigning the mental health systems in all 50 states. A press release previewing the report stated:

 

"Achieving this goal will require greater engagement and education of first line health care providers—primary care practitioners—and a greater focus on mental health care in institutions such as schools, child welfare programs, and the criminal and juvenile justice systems. The goal is integrated care that can screen, identify, and respond to problems early."

 

About 7 months later, on February 5, 2003, a subcommittee report was released titled, "Promoting, Preserving and Restoring Children’s Mental Heath," and stated in part:

 

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"The extent, severity, and far-reaching consequences of mental health problems in children and adolescents make it imperative that our nation adopt a comprehensive, systematic, public health approach to improving the mental health status of children."

 

The NFC's final report calls for screening every child in America, including preschoolers, and points our that, "schools are in a key position to identify mental health problems early and to provide a link to appropriate services."

 

In addition, according to the final report, every child plugged into a government program, will automatically be screened in accordance with the following recommendation:

 

“Screening should be implemented upon entry into, and periodically thereafter in, the juvenile justice and child welfare systems, as well as in other settings and populations with known high risk, such as the Medicaid population."

 

"When mental health problems are identified," the report says, "youth should be linked with appropriate services and supports."

 

Critics say “appropriate services and supports” means doctor’s prescribing drugs. According to the results of a 2002 survey of recently trained child psychiatrists, in the Journal of American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry, nine out of 10 pediatric patients under their care were treated with prescription drugs.

 

The NFC specifically calls for all screening programs to be linked to "state-of-the-art treatments" using "specific medications for specific conditions."

 

The Texas Medication Algorithm Project (TMAP) is the centerpiece of the NFC’s recommendation for “specific medications.” Algorithms are lists of drugs with guidelines that medical professionals must follow when prescribing medication to patients for specific mental illnesses, and contain flow charts that illustrate step-by-step prescribing process.

 

The TMAP drug lists and guidelines were developed and approved in Texas while Bush was Governor, through an "expert opinion consensus" by a panel of medical professionals chosen by the pharmaceutical sponsors of the program that included Janssen Pharmaceutica, Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, Astrazeneca, Pfizer, Novartis, Janssen-Ortho-McNeil, GlaxoSmithKline, Abbott, Bristol Myers Squibb, Wyeth-Ayerst and Forrest Laboratories.

 

Critics say TMAP is a marketing scheme thought up by Big Pharma after a slew of new psychiatric drugs were approved for sale in the 1990’s, and drug companies realized that there was no way to advertise and promote psychiatric drugs to recruit customers.

 

Once approved, TMAP guaranteed an avalanche of sales for Big Pharma in Texas, because medical professionals were required to follow the TMAP guidelines with all patients in state institutions, such as mental hospitals and prisons, and when prescribing drugs to children in foster care or juvenile justice programs, and for all patients covered by government funded health care programs.

 

The NFC recommends TMAP as the model program for “specific medications” to be used in all 50 states. The “specific medications” are the most expensive drugs on the market and include drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors antidepressants (SSRIs), like Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft, and Effexor, and the atypical antipsychotics, that include Zyprexa, Risperdal, Geodon, Seroquel, Clozaril, and Abilify.

 

Other “specific medications” include the ADHD drugs, fondly known as “speed” to street addicts, such as Adderall, Dexedrine, Concerta, Ritalin and Strattera, and a garden variety of “downers,” like Valium, Xanax, Librium and sleeping pills.

 

Critics have constantly attacked Big Pharma’s involvement in choosing the drugs on the lists. As far back as January 1999, Peter Weiden MD, one of the “experts” on the original Texas panel, openly criticized the approval process in the Journal of Practice in Psychiatry and Behavioural Health, because so drug company money was involved.

 

For instance, he said, the guidelines for the atypical antipsychotics were funded by Janssen, the maker of Risperdal, and most of the guidelines' authors also had received financial support of one kind or another from the drug companies with atypical drugs on the list. "This potential conflict of interest may create credibility problems," he wrote, "especially concerning any recommendations supporting the use of atypical antipsychotics."

 

The way the NFC scheme is set up, tax dollars not only fund the implementation of the screening programs, but also a large portion of the costs for “specific medications” that are prescribed to patients to treat mental disorders detected by the screenings through government health care programs like Medicaid.

 

The fact is, when Bush took office, he owed Big Pharma a lot favors in return for all the money he raked in from the industry and the mental health screening scheme represents a major part of his efforts to cover those debts.

 

The financial backing that Bush received from Big Pharma is legend and its safe to say that he would not be sitting in the White House today without it.

 

In 2004, a report by the advocacy group, Public Citizen, listed 21 drug industry and HMO executives or lobbyists among Bush’s Rangers and Pioneers – titles given only to those people who have raised at least $200,000 or $100,000, respectively, for one of his presidential campaigns.

 

The list includes 5 executives from drug companies, 6 officials from HMOs, the CEO of a pharmacy services company, the head of a direct-mail pharmacy, and 8 lobbyists who represent drug companies and HMOs at the time.

 

Eli Lilly, a manufacturer of many of the “specific medications” chosen for the lists, has multiple ties to the Bush family dating back decades. Before becoming President Reagan’s Vice President, the first President Bush was a member of Lilly’s board of directors and the current President Bush appointed Lilly CEO, Sidney Taurel, to the Homeland Security Council.

 

In the year 2000, eighty-two percent of Lilly's $1.6 million in political contributions went to Bush and the Republican Party.

 

Another industry big-wig, retired Bristol-Myers Squibb Vice-Chairman, Bruce Gelb, was a Bush Pioneer who also had longstanding ties to the Bush family. Gelb was appointed chief of the US Information Agency, and ambassador to Belgium, by the first President Bush.

 

Before the 2000 election, Bristol-Myers executives reportedly were pressured to make maximum donations to the Bush campaign and reluctant donors were warned that CEO, Charles Heimbold Jr, whom Bush later named ambassador to Sweden, would be informed if they failed to give, according a September 5, 2003 New York Times article.

 

Pfizer CEO, Hank McKinnell, was a 2004 Bush Ranger and until 2003, served as chairman of the board of Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America, the industry’s gigantic trade group, until Republican lawmaker, Billy Tauzin, quit Congress and took over the position that came with a multi-million dollar package in combined salary and perks.

 

Although all of the TMPA medications are only approved by the FDA for treatment of a limited number of mental illnesses like schizophrenia or major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder, in specific age groups, and with specific dosages, drug makers have doctors prescribing the medications off-label for unapproved uses to persons of all ages for just about any ache and pain, and especially with patients being screened for mental illness by the government backed programs.

 

To accomplish this mass screening of the nation’s 52 million school children, the NFC recommends that the TeenScreen program, billed as a suicide prevention survey, be set up in public school system nationwide. In May 2004, Illinois passed a resolution approving the implementation of TeenScreen in all public schools in that state.

 

TeenScreen is also an invention of Big Pharma developed and promoted through back door funneling of money through front groups that bill themselves as advocates for the mentally ill and promoting suicide prevention.

 

By far, TeenScreen has become the most controversial of all screening programs, and critics are quick to point out a number of reasons. According to the June 16, 2006, Washington Post, there were only 1,737 suicides by children and adolescents in the US during 2003, the last year for which national statistics are available.

 

According to the Department of Health and Human Services, in 2003, for every 100,000 children the rate of suicide for boys was 11.6 and the rate for girls was 2.7, which amounts to less than 2 boys in every 10,000 kids, and the number of suicides by girls in every 10,000 children, is too low to even calculate.

 

In perhaps one of their best arguments against TeenScreen, critics are asking how such a low suicide rate, when measured against the total student population, can possibly justify subjecting 52 million children to mental health screening and the distinct probability that a high number of children will end up on psychiatric drugs with side effects that cause many more deaths each year than the number of child suicides.

 

In fact, overall, the statistics for people injured or killed each year due to prescription medications are extremely high. According to a study published by Adverse Drug Reactions, more than 1.5 million people are hospitalized each year and more than 100,000 die from largely preventable adverse reactions to drugs that should not have been prescribed in the first place.

 

Advocacy groups against TeenScreen have posted a petition online with plans to send it to state and federal lawmakers. Persons interested in signing the petition can click on the following link: http://www.petitiononline.com/TScreen/petition.html

 

Ken Kramer, a records research specialist from Florida, who has been investigating the TeenScreen program for several years, says the petition is an excellent way to educate people because it conveys many of the facts about mental health screening and can be printed off and presented to school board members or legislators.

 

In 2004, Illinois became the first state to implement mental health screening programs. Its plan calls for both children and adults to be screened during their routine physical exams. To that end, the state legislature passed the Illinois Children's Mental Health Act (ICMHP), which is expected to become a model for other states.

 

The final report by the ICMHP Task Force calls for a comprehensive, coordinated children’s mental health system comprised of prevention, early intervention, and treatment for children ages 0-18, along with a statewide data-reporting system to track information on each person.

 

It requires social-emotional development screens with all mandated school exams (K, 4th, and 9th), and says to: “Start early, beginning prenatally and at birth, and continue throughout adolescence, including efforts to support adolescents in making the transition to young adulthood,” and includes a plan to screen all pregnant women

 

Critics of the Illinois plan say they are especially curious about what might be in store for the infants screened prenatally and at birth, at the ripe old age of 0.

 

The Illinois task force stressed the need to (1) improve Medicaid reimbursement for prevention, intervention and treatment services; (2) recognize diagnoses for young children described in DC:0-3 and pay for mental health services for children with any of these diagnoses; and (3) clarify for providers the diagnoses that create eligibility for children to obtain Medicaid services.

 

According to former medical services billing analyst, Chris Kelly, in plain language, this means to make sure and have doctors diagnosis patients with specifically coded mental illnesses for which Medicaid will pay the costs of the prescription drugs for treatment.

 

And studies reveal that talk therapy is a thing of the past because pushing pills is by far more profitable. A 2003 study by the American Psychiatric Association, on "financial disincentives" for psychotherapy, found doctors could earn about $263 an hour for doing three 15-minute "medication management" sessions, verses about $156 for a single 45- to 50-minute therapy session. Thus, conducting therapy verses medication management would represents an hourly pay cut of 41%, the APA study said.

 

On August 17, 2005, the Wall Street Journal quoted, Juan Riestra, associate director of medicine in the department of psychiatry at Mountainside Hospital in Montclair, NJ, as saying a psychopharmacologist is often someone "using a trendy word as a marketing device."

 

When a psychopharmacologist sees 30 or 40 patients a day, as some do, Mr Riestra told the Journal, "it becomes like a factory."

 

One of the more recent screening programs that has caught the attention of anti-drugging activists, is a survey called "Signs of Suicide” (SOS), which is being touted as a self-assessment screening tool and is provided free online on the internet.

 

This particular psychiatric screening program claims it is being promoted as an effort to reduce suicides, alcoholism, depression and eating disorders, to be used in high schools, colleges, the workplace, and the military.

 

SOS comes highly recommended by the Bush administration for members of the military and their families. As of May 26, 2006, Air Force Colonel Joyce Adkins, a psychologist at the Pentagon's Health Affairs office, claims that several thousand military people have been screened with the program since it went online around the beginning of 2006.

 

According to the May 26, 2006, Boston Globe, if the responses to the screening indicate possible trouble, SOS suggests options for seeking help.

 

Obtaining a diagnosis of mental illness could not get any easier than with SOS. This online survey, "is always available," Ms Adkins told the Globe. "You don't have to go anywhere,” she said. “You don't have to have child care or change your clothes."

 

SOS claims it is the creation of the "nonprofit" Massachusetts-based corporation, Screening for Mental Health, Inc (SMH). However, as it turns out, the development of the firm’s screening programs, was funded with millions of dollars from Big Pharma.

 

A picture taken at the company during an event in honor of, "National Depression Screening Day," (whatever that is), on October 18, 2001, shows Eli Lilly presenting SMH with a check for $500,000.

 

But Lilly’s half-million dollar grant was just the tip of the iceberg. SMH has also received millions of dollars in grants from other drug giants including Pfizer, Solvay, Abbott Labs, Wyeth, Forest Pharmaceuticals, the Robert Johnson Foundation, AstaZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline.

 

Kevin Hall, New England director of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, has been investigating mental health screening programs for a number of years, and was able to obtain the SMH’s tax returns that reveal just how much money has been funneled to the company to develop and promote the mental health screening programs since 2001.

 

All total, the tax records show that Lilly poured $2,157,925 into SMH between 2001 and 2004, and for the year 2004 alone, in addition to Lilly’s $600,000, Pfizer gave SMH $125,000, Wyeth ponied up $100,000, and Forest Labs gave $153,000

 

These “free” online mental health screening programs are also being promoted in colleges all across the country. Brian Hokanson is a college student in Minnesota who wrote a commentary describing his experience with an online survey.

 

At the beginning of last fall’s semester, Brian noticed fliers in his residence hall that were encouraging students to take a free online screening test for depression.

 

Brian says he soon found out that any combination of answers on the screening resulted in a recommendation to see a doctor. The first section of the test, he says, listed negative behaviors such as “feeling bad about yourself” and “feeling tired or having little energy.”

 

For each statement checked, Brian was instructed to chose how often the statement applied to him in the previous two weeks, ranging from “not at all” to “nearly every day.”

 

In the second part of the test, the student is asked to rate how difficult each of the behaviors checked has made it to function in daily life, ranging from “not difficult at all” to “extremely difficult.”

 

Brian says he decided to "test the test," and chose “not at all” for all of the behaviors except for “poor appetite or overeating,” and he said that statement applied to him for “several days.” On the second section, he stated that the problem made it “not difficult at all” for him to function in daily life.

 

Upon clicking on the results, Brian was told: “Your screening results are consistent with minimal depression … You are advised to see your doctor or a mental health professional for a complete evaluation as soon as possible.”

 

As for the inventor of this particular screening tool, Brian reports that the fine print at the bottom of the page of the survey reads: “Copyright 1999 Pfizer, Inc.”

 

The good news is, that after “testing the test,” things did not go according to plans because Brian did not become a new SSRI customer for Pfizer, which means he won’t be experiencing any horrific side effects from SSRI use.

 

The NFC also recommends screening for all pregnant women that will predictably lead to the use of SSRIs, even though a study as far back as the February 2, 2004, American Journal of Pediatrics, said that pregnant women who use SSRIs "to combat depression could be damaging the brains of their unborn babies."

 

According to the study, direct evidence of a link between fetal exposure and disrupted neurological development was apparent in a study of American mothers and their infants. "Abnormal sleeping patterns, heart rhythms and levels of alertness," the study found, "were linked by researchers to drugs called selective-serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs)."

 

The study leader, Philip Zeskind, a psychologist and research professor of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina, noted that SSRIs disrupt the neurological systems of children, and said "this is more than just a possibility, we're talking about hundreds of thousands of babies being exposed to these drugs during pregnancy."

 

"These babies are bathed in serotonin during a key period of their development and we really don't know what it's doing to them or what the long-term effects might be," he advised. The Professor warned that "these drugs are being given away like smarties, and this is a big problem."

 

Drug makers have also been successful in getting lawmakers to set up mandatory mental health screening for pregnant women the minute their infants leave the womb. On June 16, 2006, Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Richard Durbin (D-IL) announced legislation “that aims to eradicate the devastating effects of postpartum depression on American families.”

 

According their press release, the “MOTHERS Act was introduced in response to a recently passed, first-of-its-kind New Jersey law requiring doctors and nurses to educate and screen expectant mothers about PPD.”

 

“Many women have successfully recovered from postpartum depression with the help of therapy, medication, and support groups,” Senator Menendez said in the press release.

 

“By increasing education and early treatment of postpartum depression,” it said, “mothers, husbands, and families, will be able to recognize the symptoms of this condition and help new mothers get the treatment they need and deserve.”

 

Anyone interested in a quick course on the potential dangers of this program, and the lethal effects of the most commonly prescribed drugs for women with PPD, need only go read the transcripts of the Andrea Yates’ trials and check out the drugs they were feeding her for PPD, at the time she drowned her 5 children in the bathtub in November 2004.

 

Dr Anne Blake Tracy, is the author of "Prozac: Panacea or Pandora?" and a well-known expert on SSRIs and has served as a consultant for many high-profile cases involving SSRI induced violence, including cases of mothers who have killed their babies, and often themselves, after being placed on SSRIs.

 

According to Dr Tracy, investigators found Zoloft in the apartment of Emiri Padron, after she smothered her baby on June 22, 2004, and then stabbed herself in the chest twice.

 

On July 26, 2004, she says, Mary Ellen Moffitt suffocated her 5-week-old infant before killing herself after being prescribed Paxil for PPD.

 

In another tragedy in October 2002, Annie Mae Haskew smothered her 10-week-old baby after she was diagnosed with PPD and placed on antidepressants.

 

At the other end of the life-cycle, the mental health screening squad is swarming in on the nation’s 36 million senior citizens, who already represent a gold mine to Big Pharma because they use so many medications. The screening program for the elderly is set up through the, “Positive Aging Act of 2005.”

 

The Act provides federal tax dollars for community-based mental health treatment outreach teams and states: (a) In General- The Secretary ... shall award grants to public or private nonprofit entities that are community-based providers of geriatric mental health services, to support the establishment and maintenance by such entities of multi-disciplinary geriatric mental health outreach teams in community settings where older adults reside or receive social services.

 

The Act wants outreach teams to:

 

(1) adopt and implement ... evidence-based intervention and treatment protocols (to the extent such protocols are available) for mental disorders prevalent in older individuals (including, but not limited to, mood and anxiety disorders, dementias of all kinds, psychotic disorders, and substance and alcohol abuse), ...

 

(2) provide screening for mental disorders, diagnostic services, referrals for treatment, and case management and coordination through such teams; and

 

This plan seeks to round up seniors for screening wherever they can be found, including (1) senior centers; (2) adult day care programs; and (3) assisted living facilities.

 

A new recruitment scheme for senior citizens was totally unnecessary because Big Pharma has been over-medicating these customers for years. Recent research reveals that nursing home residents in particular are being drugged in record numbers.

 

Kenneth Thomas, a registered nurse with 29 years of experience, says elderly people in nursing homes are regularly put on antidepressants, even though most of them,” he notes, “lived 7 or more decades without drugging away their blues.”

 

“Based on my direct observation and experience,” he says, “many of the patients I've seen with so-called “mental illness” actually have underlying physical conditions that are easily treatable by medical, non-psychiatric, methods.”

 

He makes the point that anyone who has been taken from their home and put into an unfamiliar place confined to bed or wheelchair would be logically upset. “Any loss of personal freedom,” he explains, “tends to bring people downward emotionally.”

 

According to Mr Thomas, there are many ways to help an elderly person gain more independence and have some autonomy even in restricted environments such as nursing homes and rehab centers. “Most of these elderly,” he notes, “just need someone to talk to, not another pill.”

 

In October 2005, the Journal of the American Medical Association, published a meta-analysis of 15 randomized trials of more than 5,000 elderly patients treated with atypicals that found patients taking the drugs had a 54% increased chance of dying within 3 months, compared with patients taking a placebo.

 

Another Big Pharma money-making tactic is to promote the off-label prescribing of drugs at a higher dose than necessary which, experts say, is extremely dangerous with older people because their bodies cannot not metabolize or excrete drugs as rapidly as younger patients.

 

In a study published in the June 13, 2005, Archives of Internal Medicine, that examined the quality of antipsychotic prescriptions for nearly 2.5 million Medicaid patients in nursing homes, “over half (58.2%),” received antipsychotics that exceeded the maximum recommended dosage or received duplicate therapy or had inappropriate indications for the drugs to begin with.

 

The study found that more than 200,000 nursing home residents received antipsychotic therapy with “no appropriate indications for use.”

 

As a result of concealing negative information about these psychiatric drugs and the promotional tactics by the drug makers of encouraging the off-label prescribing of the medications for so many different uses, experts say, tens of millions of people are now taking the medications without any valid indication for their use.

 

In fact, so many people are being prescribed these expensive drugs that the TMAP part of the marketing scheme is coming apart at the seams due to pure and simple greed. State lawmakers say that the costs incurred due to the over-prescribing of the drugs are bankrupting state Medicaid programs and they have to stop the practice of over-prescribing to keep from going broke.

 

According to the July 27, 2005, Wall Street Journal, antidepressants and antipsychotics are the third and fourth biggest classes of drugs in the US after cholesterol and heartburn medicines, with sales of $20.7 billion in 2004, with much "of that cost is borne by government health-care plans," the journal said.

 

The prices per pill for these drugs are themselves insane. For example, in South Carolina, Zyprexa is the most expensive atypical covered by Medicaid, and according to James Assey, a pharmacist with the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, a one-month supply pills costs Medicaid over $700.

 

The state of Georgia totally removed Zyprexa from its preferred drug list and any doctor who wants to start a Medicaid patient on Zyprexa, must now submit a clinical rationale stating why it's the only drug appropriate, according to the November 28, 2005, Indianapolis Business Journal.

 

Other states, including Tennessee, Illinois, Louisiana, and Pennsylvania also now require doctors to obtain prior authorization before prescribing Zyprexa to Medicaid patients, the Journal reports.

 

Big Pharma is making a ton of money off selling these drugs off-label for kids. A report in the April 24, 2005, Columbus Dispatch, found that 40,000 children aged 6-18 who were covered by Medicaid were prescribed psychotropic drugs: 31% of the children were in foster care, and 22% were in juvenile detention. Medicaid spent $65.5 million for drugs used primarily as "chemical restraints," according to Pyle, P, “Drugged into Submission.”

 

According to FDA estimates, 11 million antidepressant prescriptions were written in 2003 for under 19-year-olds, representing a 27% increase in 3 years.

 

The sale of ADHD drugs, also skyrocked in 2003. In 5 to 9-year-old children their use increased 85%, and in preschoolers usage was up 49%, according to Medco Health Solution’s, 2004 Drug Trend Symposium. Overall, sales of psychiatric drugs totaled $26.7 billion in 2004, according to NDC Health Corp, a Georgia-based health information firm.

 


*************
Information for injured parties can be found at Lawyers and Settlements.com

 

 

 

 

Antidepressant Used by Yates Questioned

 

Antidepressant Used by Yates Questioned

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Published: July 9, 2006

Filed at 10:03 p.m. ET

 

HOUSTON (AP) -- A widely prescribed antidepressant that Andrea Yates took in the months before she drowned her five children in 2001 had homicidal thoughts added recently to its list of rare adverse events. But the drug's manufacturer says it believes Effexor doesn't cause such phenomena.

 

Wyeth spokeswoman Gwen Fisher said that while Effexor was being studied for use in treating panic disorder, the company found one person reported having homicidal thoughts in its clinical trial.

 

''Homicidal ideation'' was added last year as one of Effexor's rare adverse events, defined as something not proven to be caused by the drug. The Madison, N.J.-based company never notified doctors or issued warning labels because it found no causal link between its drug and homicidal thoughts, Fisher said.

 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration defines rare as occurring in less than one in 1,000 people. In the U.S. alone, about 19.2 million prescriptions for Effexor were filled last year.

 

''We believe there is no causal link between Effexor and homicidality,'' Fisher said. ''In our minds, we've taken every precaution.''

 

Dr. Moira Dolan, executive director of the watchdog group Medical Accountability Network, criticized Wyeth for not doing more to publicize it, saying ''homicidal ideation'' is listed on page 36 of Effexor XR's label.

 

Dolan said she discovered the labeling change about two weeks ago after stumbling across the FDA's MedWatch November newsletter.

 

''Families don't know to be aware of this possible effect,'' said Dolan, an Austin doctor who reviewed Yates' medical records after her first trial at the request of her then-husband. ''As doctors we're not going to look through 36 pages of labeling.''

 

Fisher said the warning about ''homicidal ideation'' also appears on the one-page package insert given to all patients.

 

Yates, 42, has pleaded innocent by reason of insanity in her second murder trial that started two weeks ago. Her 2002 capital murder conviction was overturned on appeal because some erroneous testimony may have influenced jurors.

 

Yates' attorneys have never disputed she killed the youngsters but say she didn't know that the drownings were wrong. Prosecutors say Yates may be mentally ill but does not meet the state's definition of insanity.

 

She had been prescribed Effexor in varying doses after her first suicide attempt in 1999 and after staying at a mental hospital in 2001. A month before the children's bathtub drowning deaths, her daily dose had increased to twice the recommended maximum dose, Dolan said.

 

Yates continues to take Effexor, according to a psychiatrist testifying in her retrial.

Yates' lead attorney, George Parnham, said Wyeth should have publicized information about the possible rare adverse event, but said that will not affect Yates' case.

 

''Obviously this is a severely mentally ill individual who was on a plethora of psychiatric meds,'' Parnham said. ''There's no question mental illness killed those children.''

 

In 2004, the FDA ordered that all antidepressants carry ''black box'' warnings that they increase the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in children. That action was driven by data that showed that on average 2 percent to 3 percent of children taking antidepressants have increased suicidal thoughts and actions.

 

Effexor is Wyeth's top-selling drug, with $3.46 billion in 2005 sales worldwide, more than twice the total for its No. 2 product and 18 percent of its total revenues for last year.

------

AP Business Writer Linda A. Johnson in Trenton, N.J., contributed to this report.

 

Saturday, July 08, 2006

"The ADHD Fraud is vital reading for everyone"

 
Dr. Baughman's long-awaited book is acclaimed for providing much needed, detailed and practical advice on how to prevent children from being labeled as victims of "ADHD" and other "mental disorders."


"Read the book and weep—for the children, and for the intellectual dishonesty that now inhabits the core of American psychiatry."

Robert Whitaker, author of Mad in America


"This book documents (how) the charlatan (quack) psychiatric profession abuses normal, healthy children with brain-destructive drugs for the unconscionable purpose of creating so-called 'mental illnesses' such as ADHD, for financial gain."

Congressman Ron Paul (Texas)

"The ADHD Fraud is vital reading for everyone. The information is factual, easy to read and debunks every lie that psychiatrists have spun about childhood 'mental disorders' and the drugs used to 'treat' them. It cannot be emphasized enough the urgency with which this book needs to be broadly distributed if we are truly going to safeguard our future generation."

Jan Eastgate,
President, CCHR International

Click here to purchase this book.


 

Inquiry into Ritalin for preschoolers - Australia

Inquiry into Ritalin for preschoolers

July 08, 2006

THE federal Government will order an investigation into whether doctors are placing children at risk by prescribing Ritalin to preschoolers against the advice of ADHD drug manufacturers.

Parliamentary secretary for health Christopher Pyne said he was "very concerned" by revelations that some doctors were prescribing Ritalin and other methylphenidate stimulants to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder in children under six.

On Monday, he will ask the Therapeutic Goods Administration to investigate the use of Ritalin and other ADHD drugs and whether they have been prescribed against the advice of manufacturers.

Doctors should not prescribe Ritalin for children under six as the "safety and efficacy in this age group have not been established", a spokeswoman for pharmaceutical manufacturer Novartis told The Weekend Australian. Novartis also warned against long-term use of methylphenidate - which covers drugs branded Ritalin, Attenta and Concerta - saying safety data were incomplete.

However, Sydney pediatrician Patrick Concannon, an ADHD specialist, said it was common for young children with serious ADHD to be put on the stimulant, which boosts doctors' ability to regulate behaviour.

"It is a widely accepted practice, here and overseas, to prescribe methylphenidate under six years. The company won't change their drug information. I guess that it's still worried regarding possible legal suits," Dr Concannon said.

In NSW, pediatricians and psychiatrists are not allowed to prescribe stimulants to children under two, and permission is required between the ages of two and three.

Mr Pyne said doctors should not prescribe medication in a way considered inappropriate by the drug maker. "The doctors should not operate as lone rangers when it comes to prescribing medicines, and they should follow the instructions of the pharmaceutical companies," he said.

But Dr Concannon, a private specialist who chairs the stimulants committee for the NSW Department of Health, said the drug had been researched intensely and had less serious side-effects than common medications, such as paracetamol.

The key was close observation of the children, he said.

But the TGA would have no power to require doctors to change the way they prescribe. A TGA spokeswoman said that was a matter for state medical boards.

More than 50,000 Australian children, and at least 10,000 adults, are estimated to be taking drugs such as dexamphetamine and Ritalin for the brain disorder, which has serious and prolonged symptoms of hyperactivity or inattention, or both.

The TGA has received about 15 reports of adverse reactions in children aged between three and five linked to Ritalin since the early 1990s, none fatal.

Despite the concerns, Mr Pyne said he opposed tougher "black box" warnings on ADHD medication, and that safety concerns were exaggerated. Dozens of deaths linked to the drugs have prompted the US Food and Drug Administration to investigate tougher warnings.

But Mr Pyne said Australians had already been warned of the potential for cardiac trouble and stroke. While he had asked the TGA to monitor ADHD treatments, "I'm satisfied the warnings we have at present are satisfactory", he said

Dr Concannon said the problem was not ADHD but Canberra's decision to allow GPs and psychiatrists, but not pediatricians, to refer patients for five free psychological sessions.

"So, the medical group most closely involved with these problem children can't make use of the program, and then are accused of prescribing medicine rather than using counselling," Dr Concannon said.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit. 
 
 

Friday, July 07, 2006

Compounding the crises ; Judge: Psychiatrists too fast to medicate

Compounding the crises; Judge: Psychiatrists too fast to medicate

14 June 2005
Copyright (c) 2005 Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company. All rights reserved.

MILFORD

Third of Seven Parts

MILFORD - She has seen children not yet 12 suffering from severe liver and heart problems, youngsters who constantly lacerate their bodies, preadolescent boys with internal organs so haywire they produce breast milk, and young girls so obese they don't want to be seen in public.

As it is with so many young people who appear before her, Milford Juvenile Court Judge Carol A. Erskine is convinced drugs are responsible; but these cases don't involve illegal drugs purchased on a street corner or schoolyard to get high for the night.

Judge Erskine aims her wrath at many of the medications given to children and teenagers diagnosed with mental illness. She has become an outspoken critic of the treatment young people receive.

In her view, too many children become victims of psychiatrists who are too quick to diagnose, and too quick to prescribe powerful anti-psychotic drugs without making the patients and their parents fully aware of potentially severe side effects. The result, she is convinced, amounts to the "medicalization of childhood behavior."

The judge stressed she is not opposed to young people with mental illnesses taking medications, but does believe that proper diagnosis, monitoring and other processes should be used before the powerful drugs are prescribed.

On any given Tuesday, Judge Erskine said, 50 to 60 juvenile cases - on issues ranging from truancy to substance abuse - are heard in her courtroom. About 60 percent of those who appear before her, she estimates, receive medication for what has been diagnosed as a mental illness.

"We're dealing with kids who are preadolescents and adolescents," Judge Erskine said. They have been labeled mentally ill when, in fact, they are just "normal" kids reacting to societal forces, she said.

"You see kids that have mood changes," the judge said. "It's normal for them one day to be happy, the next day sad. I'm seeing that these kids are being consistently diagnosed as bipolar. There's a huge number of children being labeled with mental illnesses."

Such diagnoses, she maintains, make it easier for psychiatrists to prescribe medications that may lead to severe side effects.

Had it not been for alarming news reports out of hearings conducted last summer by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, it is doubtful much attention at all outside the patient-family- practitioner network would be focused on the medications being prescribed to children. But what transpired as a result of the hearings offers a window into a key aspect of the treatment of mentally ill young people.

During those hearings, dozens of parents testified that the medications caused their children to attempt - and even commit - suicide. The accusations received national attention and resulted in the FDA requiring the drugs' manufacturers to carry a warning on the product labels recommending close observation of those taking the medications, particularly looking for signs of worsening depression or any inclination toward suicide.

Two links that may get you to this story 

http://www.jfsworcester.org/documents/Compounding%20the%20crises%20Worc%20T&G%206-14-05.doc

 

Or the archives at the paper

 

http://tinyurl.com/h64yt