Sunday, April 29, 2007

Role of antidepressants in killings needs review

The murderous rampage that left 33 people dead at Virginia Tech has stirred countless emotions: sadness and anger, fear and hatred, grief and disgust.

When Dr. Ann Blake Tracy heard the details, she felt many of those same emotions. Yet there is one sentiment Tracy does not share with much of the rest of the world: surprise. As terrible as it sounds, after nearly 20 years researching links between violent crime, suicide and antidepressants, Tracy is surprised only that it doesn't happen more often.

Details continue to emerge about the lonely life of killer Seung-Hui Cho, who had a history of mental illness. Among Cho's effects, officials found prescription medications related to the treatment of psychological problems.

Though it's still premature to draw conclusions without toxicology results, these are the details Tracy, an author and the executive director of the International Coalition for Drug Awareness, expected from the moment she heard about the Virginia Tech shootings. In her experience, when it comes to investigating high-profile shootings, antidepressants are as common as the presence of loneliness, despondence and rage.

"I'm just so tired of seeing people die, I could scream," Tracy said during a phone interview. "It's happening daily in this country. It's so massive, it's just unreal. We've got so many school shootings now, I can't even begin to keep up with them all. And the reason is so incredibly obvious. You don't have to look at much to figure it out."

2006, Bailey, Colo. — Duane Morrison shot and killed a girl and sexually assaulted six others. Antidepressants were found in his vehicle.

2005, Red Lake Indian Reservation, Minn. — Jeff Weise shot and killed nine people and wounded five before committing suicide. Prozac.

1998, Springfield, Ore. — Kip Kinkel killed his parents, then went to school and opened fire in the cafeteria, killing two and wounding 22. Prozac.

1989, Stockton — Patrick Purdy used an assault rifle to spray bullets through a playground at Cleveland Elementary School, killing five children and wounding 29 people before he killed himself. Elavil.

'It's all so intertwined'

There are dozens of other examples of violence at schools and the presence of antidepressants, but the carnage hardly is limited to our campuses. Countless families have been destroyed around the world through homicides and suicides committed by adults on antidepressants.

In June 2001, Texan Andrea Yates drowned her five children under the influence of four psychiatric medicines, including Effexor.

In February 2004 in Polk Township, Pa., Samantha Hirt, hours after taking a pill for manic depression, set fire in a bedroom where her two toddlers were playing, closed the door and sat on a sofa watching television while the fire spread, killing both children. Effexor.

Other famous cases include the 1998 deaths of actor Phil Hartman and his wife, a murder/suicide committed by her (Zoloft); the 1999 home and office killing spree by Atlanta day trader Mark Barton (Prozac); the 1998 shooting deaths of four co-workers by Connecticut lottery accountant Matthew Beck, who then killed himself (Luvox); and the 1994 New York City subway bombing by Edward Leary, which injured 48 (Prozac).

The list (which can be found at encompasses hundreds and hundreds of cases.

"You start linking them together and looking at all the similarities and you say, 'Good grief, it's all so intertwined,'" said Tracy, who has appeared on programs including "20/20," "Dateline" and "60 Minutes" and served as a consultant on high-profile cases including Columbine and Andrea Yates. "I keep asking, 'When is somebody going to see this?' But we've been so brainwashed about drugs, we think legal means safe.

"Most people don't know LSD once was prescribed as a wonder drug. Most people don't know that PCP was considered to have a large margin of safety in humans. Most people don't know ecstasy was prescribed and sold for five years to treat depression. Few know that history of drugs, and I think that's our biggest problem. We're just not educated enough to have concerns."

Prozac nation, indeed

The Northern San Joaquin Valley certainly is not immune. Stanislaus County Coroner Kristi Herr, who has investigated hundreds of the county's 4,000 annual deaths, including many accidental overdoses of prescription medicines, said she regularly goes into homes of deceased people and finds medicine cabinets loaded with prescription medicines. Sometimes there are so many pill bottles that large garbage bags are needed to transport them all.

"It seems to me a large portion of our society is on antidepressants," Herr said. "That isn't based on statistics. That is just based on my experience of going into homes and evaluating the cases that come through here."

In 2003, then-Newman resident Lorraine Slater's 14-year-old daughter, Dominique, killed herself after being treated for depression with several antidepressants, including Celexa and Wellbutrin. As her depression and erratic behavior worsened, her doctor prescribed her a double dose of Effexor. Fifteen days later, she was dead. Her body later was found in the Delta Mendota Canal in Patterson, not far from the family's home.

"On the drug, she became more agitated, combative and restless," Slater said. "And she had never been like that before. It's like our daughter was on LSD. It was a real Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde experience."

Shortly after Dominique's death, the FDA released a warning that one in 50 patients, or 2 percent, will experience an adverse reaction to Effexor, which can include suicidal thoughts.

Slater has become a consumer advocate working to raise awareness of possible dangers of antidepressants. On May 9, she will testify at a hearing at the state Capitol concerning a bill that would require drug companies to disclose results of all clinical trials.

"We're not against medication," Slater said. "We just want disclosure about results from their trials. In their internal memos, marketers are told to downplay the side effects, and a lot of doctors aren't aware of the real dangers.

"We're just saying these companies need to give the citizens they're supposedly trying to help the information about possible symptoms so people can make informed decisions. If their medicine is so good, what is there they have to hide?"

Arguments against link

Of course, the logical argument against tying violent crimes to antidepressants is that there are countless factors that motivate a person to commit a violent act.

And those who carry out these deeds often are people with mental illness, so the presence of antidepressants can be expected. These are solid points; correlation does not in itself mean causation. And there is no doubting that countless people have benefited from these drugs.

Still, as one looks at the details of violent crimes around the country, too often there is an array of antidepressants. At the very least, this is a topic that deserves greater scrutiny.

In early 2005, the FDA issued a warning that antidepressants can cause both suicide and violence. The agency also mandated a black-box warning — the most serious available — that states these drugs can produce side effects that include anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, irritability, hostility, aggressiveness, impulsivity and mania.

The FDA also has warned that abrupt withdrawal of antidepressants can produce suicide, psychosis or hostility.

Eli Lilly, which makes Prozac, repeatedly has denied claims that Prozac causes violence, even though the company's own documents acknowledge "nervousness, anxiety, self-mutilation and manic behavior" are among the "usual adverse effects" of the medicine.

It's the same Eli Lilly that has paid more than $1.2 billion to 28,000 people who claimed they were injured by the drug Zyprexa during the past decade, according to a Jan. 5 article in the New York Times.

Paying $1.2 billion over 10 years may sound like a lot of money until compared with the $4.2 billion the company made last year alone selling Zyprexa, which has been taken by 20 million people worldwide since its introduction in 1996.

Most antidepressant drugs, including Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Luvox, Celexa, Lexapro and Effexor, are known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, which alter brain chemistry in an attempt to manage depression.

Serotonin, a neurotransmitter, is a chemical that facilitates communication within the brain, allowing one to experience happy feelings upon its release. Essentially, the antidepressant drugs prevent reabsorption of serotonin in an attempt to make the happiness experience last longer.

Mother of a monster

One of the former lead chemists at the National Institute of Health, whose work eventually led to the development of many antidepressant drugs, first spoke out against the drugs nearly 10 years ago.

"I am alarmed at the monster that Johns Hopkins neuroscientist Solomon Snyder and I created when we discovered the simple binding assay for drug receptors 25 years ago," said Dr. Candace Pert in the Oct. 20, 1997, issue of Time magazine.

She said Prozac and other SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) antidepressants may cause heart problems and affect the entire body, where the vast majority of serotonin is produced.

The medical profession "ignores the body as if it exists merely to carry the head around," said Pert, who's now scientific director of RAPID Pharmaceuticals in Potomac, Md. "These molecules of emotion regulate every aspect of our physiology."

A recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that half of all Americans take at least one prescription drug, and that antidepressant use has nearly tripled in the past decade. According to some estimates, 30 million Americans take antidepressants. FDA statistics show U.S. physicians issue more than 10 million antidepressant prescriptions each year to patients younger than 18. FDA-approved prescription drugs injure 2.2 million and kill at least 100,000 Americans each year, according to numerous published studies.

Some survive and forgive

Problem is, when antidepressants don't work as intended, the harmful fallout isn't limited to the user. The victims often are those within striking distance. They are people like Mark Taylor, who was sitting outside and reading a Bible when he was shot numerous times by Eric Harris at Columbine High School.

"The first one hit me in the back of the leg. That was the shotgun blast," Taylor said in a recent phone interview. "That was the most painful. And then I got hit several more times in the chest; the bullets went right through me. They tried to make sure I was dead. I laid down and pretended I was dead.

"I think Eric Harris, from the medication, didn't really know what he was doing. I don't really hold him responsible for it. Eric and Dylan were both taking medicines. They just didn't seem to have any reaction to what they were doing. They were having fun with it, laughing and enjoying it and having a good time. I feel that antidepressants were the cause of the Columbine shooting."

Taylor, now 24, travels the country and speaks about the importance of forgiveness. Since the Virginia Tech shootings, he has been besieged with interview requests. His interviews included an appearance on "The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet," a national Fox News Network program. The hosts invited Taylor because they wanted to hear from someone who had survived a school shooting, someone who presumably could offer insight to help other children survive such an incident.

"Forgiveness," Taylor told them, "that's how I survived it."

But Taylor said the show's commentators weren't much interested in his message of forgiveness. Instead, the show focused on interviews with FBI agents and police tacticians, who offered survival tips that we are supposed to use to arm our children as we send them off to school.

Is this what it's come to? Do we now simply accept that frequent school shootings are a part of today's society and prepare ourselves for when tragedy strikes? Too often, instead of working to find the cause of problems, we react to symptoms. That same kind of thinking is what has so many Americans taking antidepressants in the first place.

Video: School Shooter and Psych Drugs:
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National FOX TV - Mental "Health" System Not Working - School Shooting

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The psycho/pharmaceutical industry and their minions  are shamelessly using the recent Virginia Tech shootings to push for more forced drugging, more involuntary commitment, and more mental health "intervention" .   Any rational person must ask why there has never been a federal investigation into psychiatric drugs as they relate to the carnage.    
These  drugs have been documented by the FDA to cause mania, suicide, psychosis, worsening depression and even homicidal ideation . 
If more than 1/2 the shooters were taking PCP or smoking Crack -- there would be an investigation, but those are illegal drugs and do not rake in billions in profit for vested interests.
Why aren't these mental health "experts" asking what drugs Cho Seung-Hui was taking after investigators found "depression medication" in his belongings?

Response to "Bedlam Revisited"

From Gwen Olsen in response to this article
Dear Editor,
In response to your opinion article, "Bedlam Revisited,"  I would like to submit the following points of interest and facts:
Mr. Kellerman's article clearly suggests that lax laws and human rights movements against involuntary commitment practices and forced psychiatric drugging contributed to the murderous rampage last week at Virginia Tech.  Excuse me, but being a veteran pharmaceutical rep who sold psychiatric drugs, I'd like to say that this bit is getting a little old.  The tiresome rhetoric of attack against Dr. Szaz and the Church of Scientology is the oldest Pharma diversion tactic around.  I was taught to use it by a manager when I sold Haldol (haloperidol) over twenty years ago, and apparently, the smear campaign is still alive and well today.  Can't anyone come up with any new angles?
The truth is, the psycho-pharmaceutical interests do not dismiss these watchdog advocates lightly and Pharma's media "spin" machine is in constant motion counteracting their vigilant efforts...among others.  Therefore, I was not surprised to see Kellerman's cheap stab at this organization in his superfluous article--just bored with it.  However, it initially made me suspect a possible financial conflict of interest on the part of its author, as I know Pharma often pays hefty sums of money for the penning of articles such as this in times of controversy.
However, after researching Kellerman's background, I discovered he wouldn't be worth much to Pharma per se.  Being a retired clinical psychologist, Kellerman was never able to prescribe drugs, so he is of no value in terms of prescriptions or as an opinion leader, and since he is a science fiction writer not a medical writer, he wouldn't be much of an asset as a ghost writer either.  (Or would he?)  The manufacturers of antidepressants are constantly working overtime to convince the public that we are being protected by their humanitarian efforts rather than railroaded by their profiteering deception, and that their drugs are safe and effective products having only mild and transient side effects...truly science fiction copy where antidepressants are concerned!
If I sound skeptical, this is why:  Cho was reported to have been detained, evaluated and treated for depression in 2005.  It was never clear according to reports whether this detention was voluntary or involuntary on Cho's part.  However, psychiatric evaluation and treatment nearly always equal drug intervention, so it is safe to assume that drug therapy was instituted at that time. Cho's roommate reported seeing him take his prescription medication (for psychological problems) at 5 a.m. the morning of the shootings.  Therefore, it is also logical to assume that Cho was still under a psychiatric outpatient maintenance program and taking his medication.  Why wasn't he improving then?
Cho's behavior was said to have deteriorated over the past several months as he became more and more isolated and bizarre.  His roommate told reporters Cho slept restlessly, grunting and tossing and turning in his sleep;  that he was up and down throughout the night, and often gone by dawn.  He left behind a ranting, rambling, multiple-page letter of grievances and mailed a menacing video to NBC wielding guns and other weaponry before the camera. Could Cho have been exhibiting manic reactions to his medication that manifested in symptoms of sleep disturbance, anxiety, grandiosity, and eventually frank psychosis? 
These effects have been well documented with antidepressant toxicity, especially in the newer category of drugs called the SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors).  As a drug rep, I was trained that Asians metabolize many drugs differently than the general population causing an increased accumulation of drug levels to occur.  This prompted labeling changes and a reduction in dose for Asians using the cholesterol drug Crestor because Asians were recorded with twice the blood plasma levels of the drug at the same 10 mg. starting dose.  These are some of the legitimate questions currently being asked by medical doctors, mental health experts, and psycho-pharmacology researchers--not science fiction authors. 
In addition, while much "to do" is being made about the latest meta-analysis released in last week's Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA)--which concluded that antidepressants are safe and effective for treating anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, and major depressive disorder in children and adolescents--hardly anything has been reported on two other concurrently published articles.  One study appears in the New England Journal of Medicine and concluded that antidepressants are less effective than placebos in treating bipolar disorder; and the other is a study in this month's Archives of General Psychiatry which found that 1 in 4 people who were treated with antidepressants were not clinically depressed at all, but were dealing with the mental repercussions of a recent emotional blow, such as death, divorce, job loss, etc.  Only a small percentage were, in fact, by the researchers' definition, found to be clinically depressed.  Therefore, the authors concluded that the standard definition of depression should be redefined to exclude reactions to normal stressful life events, thus avoiding unnecessary stigma and misdiagnosis along with the unnecessary prescribing of antidepressant drugs.
How, then, can anyone educated about psychotropic drugs and their potentially toxic effects possibly suggest that increasing forced commitments and drugging on the population would have prevented this latest disaster?  In fact, the overuse and abuse of psychotropic drugs is what has unleashed this dangerous situation on an unsuspecting society in the first place.  But I forgot, Kellerman isn't educated about psychiatric drugs...apparently.
Pharmaceutical companies want to expand what are currently saturated markets for their multi-billion dollar depression drugs.  They need to increase market share in order to increase their bottom line and pay stock investors dividends.  They cannot afford the negative publicity brought on by events such as last week's VT shootings, that might prompt a more thorough investigation into the number of school shooters who were actually taking or withdrawing from antidepressants (or other psychotropic drugs) at the time of their crimes, and the possible dangers of these drugs--not only to the people who take them--but to the public at large.  If the treatments are found to have a causal effect and to be the real problem at hand, then additional forced treatment with these defective, dangerous chemicals will cease to be the answer in the future.
As for the author's futurama fear tactics to support more involuntary commitments, I think our time would be better spent revisiting Nazi Germany, rather than Bedlam, if we feel the need for a significant history lesson on this issue!
Gwen Olsen
15 year pharmaceutical sales veteran and author of
Confessions of an Rx Drug Pusher: God's Call to Loving Arms   

U.S. Wonders if Drug Data Was Accurate

U.S. Wonders if Drug Data Was Accurate

The Food and Drug Administration is examining whether Eli Lilly & Company provided it with accurate data about the side effects of the antipsychotic drug Zyprexa, a potent medicine that has been linked to weight gain and diabetes.

The F.D.A. has questions about a Lilly document from February 2000 in which the company found that patients taking Zyprexa in clinical trials were three and a half times as likely to develop high blood sugar as those who did not take the drug.

That document was not submitted to the agency. But a few months later, Lilly provided data to the F.D.A. that showed almost no difference in blood sugar between patients who took Zyprexa and those who did not.

The F.D.A. confirmed its inquiry in response to questions from The New York Times. The agency said it had not yet decided whether to take any action against Lilly.

“The F.D.A. continues to explore the concerns raised recently regarding information provided to the F.D.A. on Zyprexa’s safety,” Dr. Mitchell Mathis, a deputy director in the psychiatry division of the agency’s center for drug evaluation and research, said.

A Lilly spokesman, Phil Belt, said the company had rechecked its database and found errors in the original statistics. The data submitted later was accurate, Mr. Belt said.

But the 2000 document said that its figures had already been checked for error. The Times disclosed the existence of the document in an article last December.

The discrepancy between Lilly’s initial data and what it later submitted came at a time when Zyprexa’s sales were soaring, even as some doctors and foreign regulatory agencies were questioning the drug’s safety.

The F.D.A. has never concluded that Zyprexa causes diabetes more than other widely used psychiatric drugs, although the American Diabetes Association has.

Zyprexa remains Lilly’s top-selling drug, with $4 billion in worldwide annual sales. But prescriptions in the United States have fallen nearly 50 percent since 2003 amid the safety concerns.

Zyprexa and other antipsychotics are intended to quell the hallucinations and delusions associated with schizophrenia and to treat some cases of mania.

The document from 2000 and others were provided to The Times by James B. Gottstein, a lawyer who represents mentally ill people he says are forced to take psychiatric medications against their will.

Besides the F.D.A. inquiry, Lilly is facing federal and state investigations into the way it marketed and promoted Zyprexa. The company has already agreed to pay $1.2 billion to settle 28,500 lawsuits from people who contend that they developed diabetes or other diseases after taking the drug. At least 1,200 more lawsuits are pending.

Mr. Belt, the Lilly spokesman, said in a statement that the company properly marketed Zyprexa and disclosed its side effects to the F.D.A. and doctors.

“Lilly always cooperates fully with requests for information from the F.D.A.,” he said, “and that includes any requests regarding information on Zyprexa. Lilly is forthcoming with all relevant clinical data on all of our products.”

Lawyers who represent drug companies said the F.D.A. largely depended on the companies to be honest about the side effects of their drugs. With a staff of fewer than 3,000, including support personnel, the agency’s drug division oversees more than 12,000 prescription medicines and 400 nonprescription drugs.

In most cases, said William W. Vodra, senior counsel at the law firm of Arnold & Porter and a former F.D.A. associate chief counsel, it does not perform detailed audits of clinical trials or independently check the integrity of the data that companies send to it.

“There’s no way they could police the system with the resources they have,” Mr. Vodra said. Companies provide the agency’s scientists with so much information that “there is a point at which you can’t even think about what they’ve given you,” he added, “let alone what’s behind that stuff that they may not have given you.”

Robert A. Dormer, a partner in the law firm of Hyman, Phelps & McNamara, who represents drug companies, said that the companies did not have to provide every analysis they performed to the F.D.A. “Companies do lots of drafts of things,” Mr. Dormer said.

The Zyprexa document that has aroused the most interest at the F.D.A. is a Feb. 21, 2000, paper in which Lilly scientists discussed whether Zyprexa’s label should be changed to alert doctors of the risk of hyperglycemia, or high blood sugar, associated with the drug.

The paper showed that 154 of 4,234 patients, or 3.6 percent, who took Zyprexa in clinical trials developed high blood sugar. Only 1.1 percent of patients who took a placebo developed the condition.

Doctors have said that difference is worrisome because most patients in the clinical trials were taking Zyprexa for only a few weeks or months. Untreated hyperglycemia can eventually lead to diabetes, a disease in which the body’s insulin-producing cells die and patients lose the ability to regulate their blood sugar. Diabetes is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States.

The data that Lilly provided to the F.D.A. was notably different from the results discussed in the February 2000 paper, with the gap between the two patient groups much narrower. The company told the agency that patients taking Zyprexa developed high blood sugar at a 3.1 percent rate, while those taking the placebo had a 2.5 percent rate.

Mr. Belt said that after the February 2000 paper, Lilly performed a final quality check of the data and discovered that some patients had been incorrectly included in the analysis, while others had been excluded.

“The original data referred to in the memo was a preliminary analysis, not the final accurate analysis that was provided to the F.D.A., and is therefore very misleading,” he said.

The Times reported in December on the existence of the February 2000 document, as well as other company documents and e-mail messages that contradicted public statements by Lilly about Zyprexa’s risks.

Lilly has said that the documents and e-mail messages were taken out of context and do not present a balanced view of Zyprexa’s risks and benefits. A federal judge has criticized The Times for violating a protective order that covered the documents

Former Zyprexa drug rep reveals tactics

PLoS Medicine article here:

April 23, 2007 Monday 8:01 PM EST
Analysis: Former drug rep reveals tactics
WASHINGTON, April 23, 2007

A former pharmaceutical company insider and a physician who researches drug marketing reveal the tactics used by drug reps to manipulate physicians' prescribing habits in an article released Monday and argue that doctors should seek more credible sources of information about pharmaceuticals.

In the article, which appears in the April issue of PLoS Medicine, Shahram Ahari, a former Eli Lilly rep, and Adriane Fugh-Berman, of Georgetown University Medical Center, detail the ways in which drug reps use the allure of friendship, gifts and other well-crafted strategies to influence even the most skeptical of physicians.

"I hope physicians will read this article and realize the friendships they think they have with drug reps are actually business relationships in which they're being emotionally manipulated," Fugh-Berman told United Press International.

"That's not an appropriate place to find scientific drug information," she added. "The concept that reps educate physicians is absurd. They're sales people; they have a very limited and distorted view of the medical literature."

Fugh-Berman asserted pharmaceutical companies have too much influence over physicians' prescribing behaviors and should be banned from having these relationships with doctors.

"It's not the only thing that needs to happen, but banning drugs reps would be a great step forward in loosening the hold pharmaceutical companies have over physicians' prescribing habits," she said.

Ahari, who is now with the school of pharmacy at the University of California San Francisco, said physicians would have to make that decision themselves, but if it was up to him, he would want to limit the contact with sales reps.

"I would be pushing for some sort of restriction to access," Ahari, who has testified about Lilly's tactics for promoting Zyprexa, told UPI. "The relationship needs to be more about science and less about friendship."

Zyprexa is the subject of several lawsuits over assertions Lilly hid the drug's potential to cause diabetes or weight gain. The company has doled out more than $1.1 billion to settle more than 26,000 claims.

In the article, Ahari and Fugh-Berman detail how a drug rep goes about establishing a friendship type of relationship with a physician. This includes gifts, taking them out to dinner and finding out personal information about them, such as family life and hobbies.

The drug rep also provides the physician with free samples of drugs. Although this provides the physician an easy way to make the patient happy, its intended benefit is for the pharmaceutical company by getting patients hooked on their drugs, Ahari said.

Even physicians who refuse to see drug reps aren't immune to the pitches; the drug reps will wine and dine their staff in hopes that they will, in turn, persuade the doctors.

One of the biggest pitfalls for physicians is themselves, said Ahari. Physicians often think they -- but not their peers -- are too smart to be influenced by sales reps. But this isn't true, he said, noting there is a correlation between gifts from drug reps and increased prescribing by these doctors.

Ahari said he was never instructed to do anything illegal or lie outright, but he was less than forthcoming with the truth.

"We're not instructed to lie, but we are taught and trained to obfuscate and come in with our own particular agenda and sugarcoat it as if it was objective scientific data," he said.

One tool drug reps use is the prescribing behavior of individual physicians they are able to obtain from companies, such as IMS Health. This provides them with very detailed information, such as how much and which drugs doctors prescribe.

The drug reps also can use this information to develop a strategy that will best appeal to the physician, Ahari said.

Fugh-Berman said the prescribing data is key to the drug rep-physician relationship, and banning the sale of that information could help curtail the influence drug companies have over doctors.

New Hampshire passed a law that would ban selling prescribing information for commercial use and is now involved in a legal challenge from IMS Health and Verispan. The judgment on that case, which could have ramifications for whether other states pass similar laws, is expected soon.

Pharmaceutical and Research Manufacturers of America did not respond to UPI's request for comment by press time.

Judge anger at Ritalin kids - blames flood of crimes on ADHD drugged youngsters - Australia,22049,21620629-5007132,00.html

Judge anger at Ritalin kids

By Janet Fife-Yeomans

April 26, 2007 12:00

Article from: The Daily Telegraph

A NSW judge has slammed doctors for creating a generation of Ritalin kids now committing violent crimes and coming before the courts.

Judge Paul Conlon said attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) was the most over-diagnosed condition in the community, with "naughty kids whacked" on to drugs like the powerful stimulant Ritalin.

Last year there were more than 264,000 prescriptions for Ritalin issued in Australia – compared to just 11,114 prescriptions written in 1992.

Has Ritalin or a similar ADHD prescription affected your child? Tell us your experience in the Feedback section at the bottom of this story.

Judge Conlon said he was worried because the effect on the mental health of children who were given powerful drugs they didn't need was unknown.

"I have huge concerns. The tide of cases is amazing," said Judge Conlon, a former Crown prosecutor and now judge in the NSW District Court.

"I am starting to lose count of (the number of) offenders coming before the courts who were diagnosed at a very young age with ADHD for which they were 'medicated'."

With Australia's ADHD rates among the highest in the world and 32,000 NSW school children now on medication for it, the judge's comments will renew controversy about the use of Ritalin.

Judge Conlon spoke to The Daily Telegraph after jailing for 15 months for assault and an act of indecency a 20-year-old man who was prescribed Ritalin at the age of six.

A report by consultant psychiatrist Dr Yolande Lucire tendered to the court said the man showed characteristics of borderline personality disorder when he was taken off the drug at the age of 16 by Juvenile Justice officers.

Dr Lucire told the court: "We know (Ritalin) causes brain injury and permanent personality change." The man had also become addicted to drugs including methamphetamine.

Judge Conlon said another offender appearing before him had said he felt suicidal on ADHD medication and those feelings only subsided when he stopped taking it.

Another told the judge the "fog" lifted when he quit the medication. Yet another said he had been taking Ritalin for years and felt depressed but when he came off it "he felt on top of the world and that his life was back on track".

Judge Conlon said he was also seeing signs that children prescribed psycho-stimulant drugs like Ritalin went on to develop addiction to drugs like methamphetamines.

"My own research indicates that ADHD is perhaps the most over-diagnosed condition in today's society," he said.

He urged health professionals whom he knew had concerns to become more vocal.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Child molesting psychiatrist

• Prominent child psychiatrist William Ayres pleads not guilty
• Ayers is accused of molesting seven boys
• Alleged molestations of young males date back to 1969
• Ayers once headed the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry  


Monday, April 23, 2007

Great opinions out there - where's yours?

Wrong focus

The focus of gun control in the media is not the right target. Virginia Tech's gunman Seung-Hui Cho was taking antidepressants, which the Food and Drug Administration says causes suicidal behavior, mania, psychosis, hallucinations, hostility and "homicidal ideation."

What needs to be investigated is the link between school shootings and students being incorrectly labeled and made psychotic by these mind-altering drugs.

In eight recent school shootings, psychiatric drugs were the common factor:

Sept. 28: Bailey, Colo.: Duane Morrison, 53, entered Platte Canyon High School and shot and killed one girl, and sexually assaulted six others. Antidepressants were found in his vehicle.

March 21, 2005: Red Lake Indian Reservation, Minn.: 16-year-old Native American Jeff Weise was under the influence of the antidepressant Prozac when he shot and killed nine people and wounded five, before committing suicide.

April 10, 2001: Wahluke, Wash.: 16-year-old Cory Baadsgaard took a rifle to his high school and held 23 classmates and a teacher hostage while on a high dose of the antidepressant Effexor.

March 22, 2001: El Cajon, Calif.: 18-year-old Jason Hoffman was on two antidepressants Effexor and Celexa when he opened fire at his California high school, wounding five.

March 7, 2000: Williamsport, Penn.: 14-year-old Elizabeth Bush was on the antidepressant Prozac when she blasted away at fellow students in Williamsport, Penn., wounding one.

May 20, 1999: Conyers, Ga.: 15-year-old T.J. Solomon was being treated with a mix of antidepressants when he opened fire on and wounded six of his classmates.

April 20, 1999: Littleton, Colo.: 18-year-old Eric Harris was on the antidepressant Luvox when he and his partner, Dylan Klebold, killed 12 classmates and a teacher and wounded 23 others, before taking their own lives, in what was considered the bloodiest school massacre until Virginia Tech. The coroner confirmed that the antidepressant was in his system through toxicology reports; Klebold's autopsy was never made public.

April 16, 1999: Notus, Idaho: 15-year-old Shawn Cooper fired two shotgun rounds in his school, narrowly missing students; he was taking a mix of antidepressants.

May 21, 1998: Springfield, Ore.: 15-year-old Kip Kinkel murdered his own parents and then proceeded to school where he opened fire on students in the cafeteria, killing two and wounding 22. Kinkel had been on Prozac.

In 1999, after the Columbine massacre, I was made aware of the link between psychiatric drug use and homicidal tendencies and I have continued to observe this link with subsequent school shootings over the last eight years. When this most recent massacre occurred, I found myself not wondering if he was on psychiatric drugs, but what psychiatric drug or drugs was he on.

Anne McCarthy,Ventura 

lard-assed cops at Virginia Tech spent two hours interrogating the wrong suspect and failed to prevent the massacre. Now they're "investigating." What is there to investigate - which brand or brands of anti-depressant Seung Hui Cho was taking?  

A lonely, picked-on boy was given Prozac (or one of its chemical analogs) like Kip Kinkel in Oregon, like Eric Harris in Colorado This is not a scoop, America: Prozac causes horrible, bizarre flip-outs. It is a fact that has been known for 20 years and that Eli Lilly and the other manufacturers of "selective" serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) have relentlessly denied and are still trying to suppress.

On the very day after the shootings at Virginia Tech, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study challenging the "black box" warning that the Food and Drug Administration had finally attached to Prozac in October, 2004. "Antidepressants Get a Boost For Use in Teens" read the Wall St. Journal headline. "Despite Warnings on Labels, Study says Benefits Outweigh Risk of Suicidal Tendencies."

The New York Times ran its account of the new pro-Prozac study on the page facing the obituaries of students and faculty members killed at Virginia Tech! "Scales Said to Tip in Favor of Antidepressant Use in Children -A risk of suicidal thoughts is found to be more than offset." You'd think that 33 deaths would more than offset it back.

Evidence that Prozac induces suicidal ideation and actions emerged when the drug was in clinical trials in Germany in the mid-1980s. The German findings were misrepresented to the FDA by a Lilly employee named Joachim Wernicke. U.S. marketing approval was granted in December, 1988, with no warning required. After a drug is marketed here in Guinea Pig Nation, only a very small fraction of the adverse events brought on by the drug get reported. Patients have to tell their doctors who then have to file paperwork with the manufacturers who then have to voluntarily tell the FDA that their products are dangerous.


Michael Moore, School Shooters and Are Drugs to blame for Cho's rampage?

In 2002, Fox National News reporteDouglas Kennedy exposed the link between psychiatric drugs and school shootings;
Click here to watch video:
Filmmaker Michael Moore has also called for a federal investigation into school shooters and psychiatric drugs. 
Click here to watch video: 
In September 2005, following confirmation that Red Lake Indian Reservation school shooter, Jeff Weise, was under the influence of the antidepressant Prozac, the National Foundation of Women Legislators, together with American Indian tribal leaders, called for a Congressional investigation into the correlation between psychiatric drug use and school massacres. Congress has yet to investigate the role of psychiatric drugs relating to school shootings despite international drug regulators warning these drugs
can cause mania, psychosis, hallucinations, suicide and homicidal ideation. 
At least eight of the recent school shooters were under the influence of such drugs, and according to the NY Times, prescription medications said to be related to treatment of psychological problems were found among Cho Seung-Hui's effects.  The Associated Press reported today that "Pathologists sent blood samples for toxicology testing to determine if Cho was on drugs at the time of his rampage, but it could take as long as two weeks to get the results."

Are meds to blame for Cho's rampage?
Experts say psychiatric drugs linked to long list of school shooting sprees

April 23, 2007

By Bob Unruh

Cho Seung-Hui

Cho Seung-Hui's murderous rampage – during which he killed 32 students and faculty members at Virginia Tech – is prompting research into gun laws, resident aliens and graphically violent writings. Investigators also may want to check his medicine cabinet, because psychiatric drugs have been linked to hundreds of violent episodes, including most of the school shootings in the last two decades.

The New York Times has reported the killer was on a prescription medication, and authorities have said he was confined briefly several years ago for a mental episode. They also have confirmed that the "prescription drugs" found among his effects related to the treatment of psychological problems.

Dr. Peter Breggin, a prominent critic of psychiatric drugs and founder of the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology, said even if Cho wasn't taking psychiatric drugs the day of the shooting, "he might have been tipped over into violent madness weeks or months earlier by a drug like Prozac, Paxil, or Zoloft."

While media reports have focused on guns and gun laws, Cho's violent writings and autistic behavior at Virginia Tech and the delay in notifying students and faculty of the beginnings of the shootings, there are those who say the focus should be on his medical history.

"In my book 'Reclaiming Our Children,' I analyzed the clinical and scientific reasons for believing that Eric Harris's violence was caused by prescribed Luvox and I've also testified to the same under oath in depositions in a case related to Columbine," Breggin wrote, referring to the 1999 tragedy when Harris and classmate Dylan Klebold shot and bombed students at the Colorado school until a dozen were dead.

"In my book "The Antidepressant Fact Book," I also warned that stopping antidepressants can be as dangerous as starting them, since they can cause very disturbing and painful withdrawal reactions," he added.

The TeenScreenTruth website, dealing with the campaign to "screen" children for "problems" and then prescribe drugs, has documented an extended list of violent episodes believed connected to the use of psychiatric drugs.

They range as far back as 1985, when Atlanta postal worker Steven W. Brownlee, who had been getting psychotropic drugs, pulled a gun and shot and killed a supervisor and a clerk.

Among the specifically school-related attacks the site documents are:

  • In 1988, 31-year-old Laurie Dann, who had been taking Anafranil and Lithium, walked into a second-grade classroom in Winnetka, Ill., and began shooting. One child was killed and six wounded.

  • Later that same year, 19-year-old James Wilson went on a shooting rampage at the Greenwood, S.C., Elementary School and killed two 8-year-old girls and wounded seven others. He'd been on Xanax, Valium and five other drugs.

  • Kip Kinkel, a 15-year-old of Springfield, Ore., in 1998 murdered his parents and proceeded to his high school where he went on a rampage killing two students and wounding 22 others. Kinkel had been prescribed both Prozac and Ritalin.

  • Patrick Purdy, 25, in 1989 opened fire on a school yard filled with children in Stockton, Calif. Five kids were killed and 30 wounded. He been treated with Thorazine and Amitriptyline.

  • Steve Lieth of Chelsea, Mich., in 1993 walked into a school meeting and shot and killed the school superintendent, wounding two others, while on Prozac.

  • 10-year-old Tommy Becton in 1996 grabbed his 3-year-old niece as a shield and aimed a shotgun at a sheriff's deputy who accompanied a truant officer to his Florida home. He'd been put on Prozac.

  • Michael Carneal, 14, opened fire on students at a high school prayer meeting in Heath High in West Paducah, Ky. Three died and one was paralyzed. Carneal reportedly was on Ritalin.

  • In 1998, 11-year-old Andrew Golden and 14-year-old Mitchell Johnson apparently faked a fire alarm at Westside Middle School in Jonesboro, Ark., and shot at students as they left the building. Four students and a teacher were killed. The boys were believed to be on Ritalin.

  • In 1999, Shawn Cooper, 15, of Notus, Idaho, took a shotgun to school and injured one student. He had been taking Ritalin.

  • April 20, 1999, Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, shot and killed 12 classmates and a teacher and wounded 24 others. Harris had been taking Luvox.

  • Todd Smith walked into as high school in Taber, Alberta, Canada in 1999 with a shotgun and killed one and injured a second student. He has been given a drug after a five-minute phone consultation with a psychiatrist.

  • Steven Abrams drove his car into a preschool playground in 1999 in Costa Mesa., Calif., killing two. He was on probation with a requirement to take Lithium.

  • In 2000, T.J. Solomon, 15, opened fire at Heritage High School in Conyers, Ga., while on a mix of antidepressants. Six were wounded.

  • The same year Seth Trickey of Gibson, Okla., 13, was on a variety of prescriptions when he opened fire on his middle-school class, injuring five.

  • Elizabeth Bush, 14, was on Prozac. She shot and wounded another student at Bishop Neumann High in Williamsport, Pa.

  • Jason Hoffman, 18, in 2001 was on Effexor and Celexa, both antidepressants, when he wounded two teachers at California's Granite Hills High School.

  • In Wahluke, Wash., Cory Baadsgaard, 16, took a rifle to his high schooland held 23 classmates hostage in 2001. He has been taking Paxil and Effexor.

  • In Tokyo in 2001, Mamoru Takuma, 37, went into a second-grade classroom and started stabbing students. He killed eight. He had taken 10 times his normal dosage of an antidepressant.

  • Duane Morrison, 53, shot and killed a girl at Platte Canyon High School in Colorado in 2006. Antidepressants later were found in his vehicle.

  • In 2005, 16-year-old Native American Jeff Weise on the Red Lake Indian Reservation in Minnesota was under the influence of the antidepressant Prozac when he shot and killed nine people and wounding five before committing suicide.

Another case involving a school-age youth – although not at a school – happened in 1986, when 14-year-old Rod Mathews of Canton, Mass., beat a classmate to death with a baseball bat while on Ritalin.

And just a few among the dozens of incidents cited, but not apparently related to schools:

  • William Cruse in 1987 was charged with killing six people in Palm Bay, Fla., after taking psychiatric drugs for "several years."

  • The same year, Bartley James Dobben killed his two young sons by throwing them into a 1,300-degree foundry ladle. He been on a "regimen" of psychiatric drugs.

  • Joseph T. WesBecker, 47, just a month after he began taking Prozac, shot 20 workers at Standard Gravure Corp. in Louisville, Ky., killing nine. Eli Lilly, which makes Prozac, later settled a lawsuit brought by survivors.

  • In 1991, 61-year-old Barbara Mortenson, on Prozac for two weeks, "cannibalized her 87-year-old mother …"

  • In 1992, Lynnwood Drake III, shot and killed six in San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay. Prozac and Valium were found in his system.

  • Sixteen-year-old Victor Brancaccio attacked and killed an 81-year-old woman, covered her corpse with red spray-paint. He was two months into a Zoloft regimen.

  • While on four medications including Prozac, Dr. Debora Green in 1995 set her Prairie Village, Mo., home on fire, killing her children, ages 6 and 13.

  • Kurt Danysh, 18, shot and killed his father in 1996, 17 days after his first dose of Prozac. "I didn't realize I did it until after it was done. … This might sound weird, but it felt like I had no control of what I was doing, like I was left there just holding a gun."

  • In 1998, GlaxoSmithKline, maker of Paxil, was ordered to pay $6.4 million to surviving family members after Donald Schnell, 60, just 48 hours after taking Paxil, flew into a rage and killed his wife, daughter and granddaughter.

The website also cites psychiatrist Chester M. Pierce, in a speech advocating for the treatment of children and youth.

"Every child in America entering school at the age of five is insane because he comes to school with certain allegiances to our founding fathers, towards our elected officials, towards his parents, towards a belief in a supernatural being, and towards the sovereignty of this nation as a separate entity. It's up to you as teachers to make all these sick children well – by creating the international child of the future," Pierce told a 1973 childhood seminar.

Breggin's conclusion that whatever mental manifestations were causing Cho's dangerous behavior, resulting in a professor asking for him to be removed from her class and two complaints of stalking, there was a solution.

"The answer to vengeful, violent people is not more mental health screening or more potent mental health interventions. Reliance on the whole range of this system from counseling to involuntary treatment failed. There is not a shred of scientific evidence that locking people up against their will or otherwise 'treating' them reduces violence. As we'll see, quite the opposite is true," he wrote. "So what was needed? Police intervention."

He wrote that "it's not politically correct to bring criminal charges against someone who is 'mentally ill' and it's not politically correct to prosecute him or to remove him from the campus. Yet that's what was needed to protect the students. Two known episodes of stalking, setting a fire, and his threatening behavior in class should have been more than enough for the university administration to bring charges against him and to send him off campus."

He continued with a warning, "And what about drugs for the treatment of violence? The FDA has not approved any medications for the control of violence because there are no such medications. Yes, it is possible to temporarily immobilize mind and body alike with a shot of an 'antipsychotic' drug like Haldol; but that only works as long as the person is virtually paralyzed and confined – and forced drugging invariably breeds more resentment.

"Instead of offering the promise of reducing violence, all psychiatric drugs carry the potential risk of driving the individual into violent madness. For example, both the newer antidepressants such as Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft and Celexa, and the antipsychotic drugs such as Risperdal and Zyprexa, cause a disorder caused akathisia – a terrible inner sensation of agitation accompanied by a compulsion to move about. Akathisia is known to drive people to suicide and to aggression."

He said he's been writing for more than 15 years about the capacity for psychiatric drugs to cause mayhem, murder and suicide, but it wasn't until 2005 when the FDA issued a warning that such drugs produce "anxiety, agitation, panic attacks …"

He said in the Columbine case, Harris "looks the most like Cho. Both were very emotionally disturbed in an extremely violent fashion for a prolonged period of time."

Carolyn Rude, chairwoman of Virginia Tech's English department, said Cho's writings were so disturbing he was referred to the school's counselors.

"Sometimes, in creative writing, people reveal things and you never know if it's creative or if they're describing things, if they're imagining things or just how real it might be," she said. "But we're all alert to not ignore things like this."

In a statement posted on the TeenScreen opposition site, Sidney Taurel of Eli Lilly noted that it would be "unreasonable" to expect "that there is such a thing as a risk-free drug."

Another website concerning the psychiatric drugs, called RitalinDeath, also documents some of these cases, as well as additional ones.

Dr. John Breeding concluded in a report shortly after Columbine that there were about five million school children now being given psychiatric drugs, and the number had been doubling every 10 years since the 1970s.

"This has got to be a cause for major alarm in all adults," he said. "The bottom line is that we are giving stronger and stronger psychiatric drugs to more and more children. Many of our children are taking more than one of these drugs at a time, and many of these drugs were never even tested and approved for children."

Sunday, April 22, 2007

ADHD drugs concern judge - Australia

ADHD drugs concern judge

April 20, 2007

ATTENTION Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is the most over-diagnosed condition in the community, according to a Wollongong District Court judge.

Judge Paul Conlon yesterday questioned whether enough was known about the long-term effects of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) drugs like Ritalin, while issuing his judgment for a 20-year-old man convicted of assault and an indecent act.

"I know there are those with the appropriate medical qualifications who are concerned about the effects of these drugs on the mental health of young persons," he said.

"However I fear they are not nearly vocal enough."

In a report tendered to the court, consultant psychiatrist Dr Yolande Lucire said the man had been diagnosed with ADHD at age six, and was prescribed Ritalin.

Videos on school shootings

Two great short video clips that ask important questions about the recent school shootings, and what lies behind them.

Sign the declaration of refusal for the New Freedom Commissions mental health transformation

Saturday, April 14, 2007

An influential mental health nonprofit finds its 'grassroots' watered by pharmaceutical millions
An influential mental health nonprofit finds its 'grassroots' watered by pharmaceutical millions

Ken Silverstein
November/December 1999 Issue

The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) bills itself as "a grassroots organization of individuals with brain disorders and their family members." The alliance was a prominent participant in last June's White House Conference on Mental Health. Earlier, President Clinton named its executive director, Laurie Flynn, to the National Bioethics Advisory Commission.

But some mental health activists say the Arlington, Virginia-based organization -- which is widely viewed as an independent advocate for the mentally ill, and an influential voice in mental health debates -- is overly influenced by pharmaceutical companies. It's certainly well funded by the industry: According to internal documents obtained by Mother Jones, 18 drug firms gave NAMI a total of $11.72 million between 1996 and mid-1999. These include Janssen ($2.08 million), Novartis ($1.87 million), Pfizer ($1.3 million), Abbott Laboratories ($1.24 million), Wyeth-Ayerst Pharmaceuticals ($658,000), and Bristol-Myers Squibb ($613,505).

NAMI's leading donor is Eli Lilly and Company, maker of Prozac, which gave $2.87 million during that period. In 1999 alone, Lilly will have delivered $1.1 million in quarterly installments, with the lion's share going to help fund NAMI's "Campaign to End Discrimination" against the mentally ill.

In the case of Lilly, at least, "funding" takes more than one form. Jerry Radke, a Lilly executive, is "on loan" to NAMI, working out of the organization's headquarters. Flynn explains the cozy-seeming arrangement by saying, "[Lilly] pays his salary, but he does not report to them, and he is not involved in meetings we have with [them]." She characterizes Radke's role at NAMI as "strategic planning."

As a matter of policy, NAMI does not reveal the amounts of specific donations. But spokesman Bob Carolla acknowledges that the group receives substantial funding from drug firms, who provide "most if not all" of the antidiscrimination campaign's $4 million annual budget. In addition, Carolla told Mother Jones, corporate donations account for $310,000 of NAMI's 1999 core budget of $7.1 million -- with most of that coming from pharmaceutical firms. The rest of the budget, he says, comes from charitable and membership contributions. (Another affiliated program, the NAMI Research Institute, has a budget of $20 million. Focusing on the biological causes of mental illness, it is fully funded by the private Stanley Foundation.)

Janet Foner, a co-coordinator of Support Coalition International, an activist organization of "psychiatric survivors," says NAMI does a good job in some areas, but argues that the group's corporate sponsors help shape its agenda. "They appear to be a completely independent organization, but they parrot the line of the drug companies in saying that drugs are the essential thing."

Many experts believe that the umbrella term "mental illness" embraces a broad array of conditions with equally diverse causes. NAMI spokesman Carolla says the group views mental illness as a disease, like diabetes or Alzheimer's, that can be treated most effectively with medications. "Mental illness is a biologically based brain disorder," he says. "That's not to say that other factors can't affect mental illness, but the core problem is biologically based."

NAMI's critics agree that mental illness can be triggered by biological factors, but point also to environmental causes such as incest, child abuse, family dysfunction, and other traumas. NAMI's approach "reduces human distress to a brain disease, and recovery to taking a pill," says Sally Zinman of the California Network of Mental Health Clients. "Their focus on drugs obscures issues such as housing and income support, vocational training, rehabilitation, and empowerment, all of which play a role in recovery." Furthermore, Zinman argues, Thorazine, Prozac, and other drugs routinely prescribed for the mentally ill can be counterproductive and even harmful.

NAMI's Flynn says her group is "not a captive of any outside industry." But she acknowledges there is at times a "synergy" in goals between NAMI and the drug companies. For example, both favor so-called health care parity laws, which would require insurers to view mental illness as they do other diseases. "[The drug companies] want more and greater markets, and we want access and availability to all scientifically proven treatments. We don't think drugs are everything, but for the vast majority they are important."

Flynn says the Campaign to End Discrimination is funded separately to ensure that drug industry money is not comingled with funds earmarked for NAMI's core budget. Sally Zinman, for her part, says that taking money for any purpose from drug companies -- which have a direct financial stake in the mental health debate -- is at odds with the ideal of independent advocacy. "NAMI is seen by the media as the voice of the mental health community, but the integrity of its work is called into question by its sources of funding," she says.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Media Blasts Psychiatry

Media Blasts Psychiatry....

CNN News Blasts Pedophile Psychiatrist (video):
Are Kids Given Antipsychotics Too Often?
Child's Death Reignites Debate Over How Aggressively Kids Should Be Treated with Psychiatric Drugs
Big Lie That There is ADD or OCD
Michael Savage, nationally syndicated talk show host (3 minute audio here):
TeenScreen - a National Fraud (video):

Monday, April 09, 2007

Anna Nicole Smith's Psychiatrist Under Investigation

Anna Nicole Smith's Psychiatrist Under Investigation in Drug Death

Psychiatric Watchdog Says Highly Publicized Case Indicative of Corrupt Field

The overdose death of model Anna Nicole Smith has produced a media frenzy of
epic proportions, but one group says the latest news focuses on the real
culprits-psychiatrists like Khristine Eroshevich, who was treating her.
The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a psychiatric watchdog group
said, "This highly-publicized case should serve as a wake-up call, alerting
the nation to the serious, widespread problem of drug abuse and fraud within
the psychiatric system. Psychiatrists who irresponsibly prescribe drugs,
especially lethal combinations of drugs to patients, should be criminally
investigated and prosecuted."

Eroshevich prescribed Smith eleven drugs, including antipsychotics,
anti-anxiety drugs and sedatives-a lethal combination which killed
39-year-old Smith. According to media reports, Eroshevich is now under
investigation by the California Medical Board.

Some national media have already started to target Eroshevich, referring to
her as a drug "pusher" and "supplier"-questioning whether her medical
license will be revoked for facilitating and enabling Smith's death. CCHR
goes further by saying she should be criminally investigated and prosecuted
as warranted.

Smith's untimely death while being "treated" by a doctor she trusted has now
contributed greatly to focusing on a nationwide problem: the fact that
thousands of people across the country, and not just celebrities, are
victimized in this way by psychiatrists.

CCHR maintains a database of psychiatrists and other mental health
practitioners who lost their licenses or were jailed for unethical/illegal
prescribing practices. Here is just a sampling:

. In February 2003, Florida psychiatrist George Kubski was jailed for 12
months for the death of a patient due to drug toxicity; he had prescribed
more than 20,000 pills in three months. He also got 10 years probation
during which he could not practice medicine.

. On February 5, 2001, Los Angeles psychiatrist William O. Leader was
sentenced to five years in jail for illegally prescribing dangerous
narcotics to two people with histories of drug addiction problems. Leader
was also sued in 2001 by Eric Douglas, youngest son of actor Kirk Douglas,
for prescribing near lethal doses of psychiatric drugs that so incapacitated
Douglas he nearly died twice.

. On March 17, 2007, Wisconsin psychiatrist Richard I.H. Wang entered into
an agreement with the office of the U.S. Attorney to stop practicing
medicine after a three-year criminal investigation linked him to the
overdose deaths of 11 patients.

. On January 4, 2007, the Michigan Attorney General's office announced that
psychiatrist Albert Bayer's medical license had been summarily suspended by
the Board of Medicine on charges that he engaged in a long-term sexual
relationship with a vulnerable patient to whom he also over-prescribed
psychotropic and narcotic medications.

. On January 30, 2006, psychiatrist Jeremy A. Stowell pleaded guilty in
federal court to charges of illegally dispensing narcotics, after an
investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration found he had been
prescribing narcotics to patients with drug addictions and others who
admitted sharing their drugs with friends.

The website with this database was established as a public service to law
enforcement agencies, health care fraud investigators, medical and
psychological licensing boards and the general public. It can be found at

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Many Diagnoses of Depression May Be Misguided, Study Says

April 3, 2007

Many Diagnoses of Depression May Be Misguided, Study Says

About one in four people who appear to be depressed are in fact struggling with the normal mental fallout from a recent emotional blow, like a ruptured marriage, the loss of a job or the collapse of an investment, a new study suggests. To avoid unnecessary diagnoses and stigma, the standard definition of depression should be redrawn to specifically exclude such cases, the authors argue.

The study, appearing today in The Archives of General Psychiatry, is based on survey data from more than 8,000 Americans; it did not analyze the number of people who had been misdiagnosed.

Psychiatrists and other doctors who take careful medical histories do so precisely to rule out such life blows, as well as the effects of physical illnesses, before making a diagnosis of depression.

But the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual does not specifically exclude people experiencing deep but normal feelings of sadness, unless they are bereaved by the death of a loved one. And an increasing number of school districts and health clinics use simple depression checklists, which do not take context into account, the authors said.

“Larger and larger numbers of people are reporting symptoms on these checklists, and there’s no way to know whether we’re finding normal sadness responses or real depression,” said Jerome C. Wakefield, a professor of social work at New York University and the study’s lead author.

His co-authors were Mark F. Schmitz of Temple University, Allan V. Horwitz of Rutgers University, and Dr. Michael B. First, a psychiatrist at Columbia who edited the current version of the psychiatric association’s diagnostic manual.

The study’s findings suggest that previous estimates of the number of Americans who suffer depression at least once during their lives — more than 30 million — are about 25 percent too high.

Dr. Darrel Regier, director of research for the American Psychiatric Association, said, “I think the concern this study raises is real, and that we do need to be very careful not to overdiagnose a normal, homeostatic response to loss and call it a disorder.” But he added that depression checklists had in fact helped identify people in need of treatment.

The researchers analyzed responses from 8,098 adults to survey questions posed between 1990 and 1992. The questions were based on diagnostic criteria for mood problems and asked people who reported a period of sadness if they remembered any event that might have caused it, like the death of a loved one or a divorce.

The diagnostic manual makes a distinction between severe bereavement that precipitates lasting depression, which is rare, and normal grief, which looks like depression but usually loosens its hold in a few weeks or months.

The researchers found 56 people in the survey who suffered this normal reaction after the death of someone close. Another 174 people struggled with normal levels of distress after a different kind of blow, like the breakup of a relationship or a lost job — a group that would qualify for a diagnosis of depression under the current definition.

The investigators then compared the two groups’ answers to questions about nine kinds of depression symptoms, including a loss of appetite, sleeping problems and thoughts about suicide. The only significant difference, they found, was that those grieving a death were twice as likely as those digesting another kind of loss to have thoughts about death or suicide.

“The profile you get for these two groups is so very, very close,” Dr. Wakefield said, that it does not justify the exclusion of one group and not the other in the depression diagnosis.

The authors draw no conclusions about the study’s implications for treatment. Doctors often treat even normal grief reactions if patients are in some pain. But such patients should not be identified as having depression, the authors conclude.

Secret History - Big Pharma's role - Heroin/LSD/Meth/Ecstasy/Speed

The secret history of Big Pharma's role in creating and marketing heroin,
LSD, meth, Ecstasy and speed
Tuesday, April 03, 2007 by: Mike Adams

Most consumers think that street drugs are in an entirely different class
than prescription drugs, and they believe that pharmaceutical companies
would never manufacture or sell street drugs. But guess what?

As you'll read here, drug companies actually invented many of the street
drugs now considered to be the most devastating, including heroin and meth

Here are seven facts you probably never knew about the connection between
street drugs and pharmaceutical companies:

1. Heroin was launched as a medicine by Felix Hoffman, an employee of Bayer,
only a few days after he invented aspirin. Bayer immediately applied for a
trademark on the term "heroin," then began marketing the drug as a cure for
morphine addiction. It was also marketed as cough syrup for children.

2. Parke-Davis, a subsidiary of Pfizer, promoted and sold cocaine. It even
produced a "cocaine injection kit" complete with a syringe for shooting up.
Skeptical? You can view the picture yourself by clicking

3. A subsidiary of Novartis, Sandoz Laboratories, introduced the world to
LSD in 1938, marketing it as a psychiatric drug named Delysid. This same
drug company also created saccharin, the artificial chemical sweetener.

4. Drug giant Merck pioneered the commercial manufacture of morphine from
opium and was a heavy pusher and marketer of cocaine. Merck also patented
MDMA (Ecstasy, the rave drug). After World War II, Merck also began
producing pesticides and food preservatives.

5. Ritalin is "speed" for children. A chemical amphetamine, Ritalin is made
of controlled substances that would land you in prison if you sold them to a
kid on the street, yet the drug is currently prescribed to millions of
schoolchildren in the United States to treat a "brain chemistry condition"
that was invented by the drug companies.

6. In the 1930's, drug companies marketed amphetamines as over-the-counter
inhaler medicines for treating nasal congestion.
Tablet amphetamines were also widely available in tablet form and frequently
abused by students, truck drivers and other groups.

7. Meth was originally synthesized by chemists and later refined by drug
companies. During WWII, "meth" was actually prescribed to soldiers by the
U.S., Germany and Japan. Even Hitler was known as a "meth head" by his own
staff. By the end of the war, millions of military personnel were addicted
to the drug.

Today, meth ("crank") is made from ingredients found in over-the-counter
cold medicines. While a meth epidemic sweeps America, destroying entire
communities and even threatening some states (Hawaii in particular), drug
companies insist their cold medicines should remain over the counter and not
be classified as controlled substances. There is currently no legislative
effort whatsoever to ban over-the-counter cold medicines containing the
chemicals used to create meth.

Also related: Coca-Cola really did contain cocaine during its first few
decades on the market (it also contained kola nut extract, hence the name).
Cocaine was later removed from the formula and replaced with caffeine, a
substance that is similarly addictive and serves much the same purpose.

Once you realize the connection between street drugs and prescription drugs,
it's easy to figure out why Big Pharma is such a strong supporter of the
Partnership For A Drug-Free America -- because they don't want consumers
getting their drugs from street dealers, they want people buying their drugs
from drug companies! Drug companies' attempts to outlaw street drugs are
little more than a way of eliminating the competition and monopolizing the
drug market.

Ultimately, Big Pharma is just another drug pushing cartel that has the same
goals as any drug dealer: Convince customers they need your drug, get them
hooked on it, and eliminate the competition.

The only difference is that Big Pharma has been so successful at dealing
drugs that it has enough funds to buy off Congress, the Food and Drug
Administration and practically the entire psychiatric industry (not to
mention medical schools and mainstream media outlets).

Today, more than 40 percent of the U.S. population ingests FDA-approved
synthetic chemicals manufactured and marketed by drug companies.

Drug companies think this number is too low. Their goal is to have 100
percent of the U.S. population taking not just one drug per day, but
multiple drugs every day, for life.