Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Congressman has Serious Concerns about Mental Screening

Is your Congressman listed below?   If not, you can locate your own Congressman here http://www.house.gov/writerep/  and request that they co-sponsor HR 2387. 
 
Parental consent for mental health screens

I am a co-sponsor of the “Parental Consent Act of 2007”(H.R. 2387) which seeks to essentially prohibit any student mental health screening program that allows mental health screening of individuals under 18 years of age without the express, written, voluntary, informed consent of the parent or legal guardian of the individual involved.

I appreciate the value of having mental health problems diagnosed and treated early but I have serious concerns about universal or mandatory mental health screening. I am worried that federally funded universal or mandatory mental health screening in schools without parental consent could potentially lead to labeling more children as “ADD” or “hyperactive” and thus force more kids into taking possibly dangerous psychotropic drugs, such as Ritalin, against their parents' wishes. Many children have already suffered harmful side effects from using psychotropic drugs. These side effects can include mania, violence, dependence, and weight gain. Furthermore, it is known that parents have been threatened by school districts with child abuse charges if they resist efforts to drug their children.

I know that some people believe that my concerns are overblown but I feel very strongly that parents' have a fundamental right to raise their children as they see fit and that includes making decision about evaluation and treatment of mental health conditions. 

Indiana 5th District
Congressman Dan Burton


The Parental Consent Act of 2007 can be found here: http://thomas.loc.gov/home/gpoxmlc110/h2387_ih.xml

Sponsor
Rep Paul, Ron, Texas

Co-Sponsors
Rep Bachmann, Michele, Minnesota
Rep Bartlett, Roscoe G., Maryland
Rep Blackburn, Marsha, Tennessee
Rep Brown-Waite, Ginny, Florida 
Rep Burton, Dan, Indiana
Rep Camp, Dave, Michigan
Rep Davis, Danny K., Illinois
Rep Doolittle, John T., California
Rep Everett, Terry, Alabama
Rep Hensarling, Jeb, Texas
Rep Hunter, Duncan, California
Rep McCotter, Thaddeus G., Michigan
Rep Miller, Jeff, Florida
Rep Musgrave, Marilyn N., Colorado
Rep Neugebauer, Randy, Texas
Rep Poe, Ted, Texas
Rep Simpson, Michael K., Idaho
Rep Tancredo, Thomas G., Colorado
Rep Walberg, Timothy, Michigan 

 

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

GlaxoSmithKline's Deadly Cover-Up

http://www.alternet.org/workplace/59336/
GlaxoSmithKline's Deadly Cover-Up
By Shelley Jofre, CorpWatch
Posted on August 8, 2007, Printed on August 23, 2007
http://www.alternet.org/story/59336/
A striking young woman with a talent for painting, Sharise Gatchell was
-- like many teenagers -- painfully self-conscious. At 14, she moved
with her family from South Africa to England where at first she found it
hard to make friends. By the age of 16 she was acutely embarrassed that
her periods hadn't started and felt she was sweating excessively. Just
the sort of thing to make adolescence even more painful than usual. Her
mother, Stephanie, took her to see a consultant physician at the local
hospital. Stephanie Gatchell recalls:

"During that consultation she became a bit emotional because she was
explaining to him about the problems she had and how it affected her
social life. Then she started crying and I was amazed. He asked her,
'Sharise, do you sometimes feel like ending it all?', and I couldn't
believe it when she said 'Yes I do.' And then he started talking about
paroxetine and suggesting that she try it."

"Off-label" Prescriptions

Paroxetine -- better known as Paxil in the U.S. -- is an antidepressant.
It is licensed only for adults, but doctors are allowed to prescribe any
medicine if they think it will help their patient, a practice called
"off-label" prescribing. Sharise was not the only teenager getting
paroxetine off-label. Around 7,000 children a year were on the drug in
the UK; and many more in the U.S.

Within days of starting on paroxetine, Stephanie noticed a dramatic
change in her daughter: she became more confident. But with the
confidence came aggression and worse:

"One day in the kitchen her sleeve pulled up slightly and I noticed that
there were cut marks on her left arm. I couldn't believe my eyes. She
was obviously self-harming while she was on the drug, something she's
never ever done before."

Stephanie persuaded her daughter to stop taking paroxetine. But in 2003
Sharise went back on it without telling her mother. When her parents
returned from a weekend break, Stephanie immediately realized something
was terribly wrong:

"I went upstairs before my husband came in, and the moment I got to the
landing at the top and I turned round and looked, she was hanging from
the loft hatch. I tried to revive her, but before I even started I
realized I was too late."

Next to her daughter's suicide note lay a packet of paroxetine.
Stephanie instinctively blamed the drug and now blames herself for
letting her daughter take it. But she couldn't have known what the
drug's manufacturer had known for years.

GlaxoSmithKline Experiments on Children

UK-based GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the second largest drug company in the
world, which recorded 2006 sales of over $45 billion, had begun a series
of clinical trials in the mid-1990s to test whether paroxetine would
work in depressed children. Paroxetine had already been hailed as a
wonder drug in adults as a treatment for everything from depression and
stress to anxiety and even shyness. By the new millennium 100 million
paroxetine prescriptions had been written worldwide, bringing in $2
billion a year for GSK and placing the antidepressant a close second to
Prozac in popularity.

With the adult market sewn up, the company sought new ways to make money
from the drug, or "life cycle management," as the approach is known in
the pharmaceutical industry. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration
wanted to boost the number of medicines tested for children and had
introduced an incentive that would give companies a six-month extension
on their patent just for carrying out pediatric trials. For paroxetine
alone that would be worth $1 billion. And if GSK could be the first
company to prove its antidepressant was safe and effective for children,
the rewards would be even higher, as paroxetine could become the market
leader.

Hundreds of children were recruited from around the world to take part
in three clinical trials. One group was given the drug, the other a
placebo.
They were randomized controlled trials (RCT) where neither the children
nor their doctors knew whether they were taking the active drug or the
placebo until the end of the study. This is widely accepted as the best
way of working out whether a drug causes a particular effect: the gold
standard in terms of evidence.

But the outcome of these the trials was not what GSK had been hoping
for.
Paroxetine proved no better than placebo. In the biggest trial, Study
329, which was conducted across several sites in the U.S., 11 of the 93
children who took paroxetine developed serious side-effects; seven had
to be hospitalized. Significantly more had self-harmed or attempted
suicide on the drug than on placebo.

The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) obtained confidential case
reports from Study 329 which detail what happened to them:

"[13 days after starting paroxetine] the patient became very angry. He
punched pictures, broke glass and sustained lacerations that required
six sutures... he expressed hopelessness and possible suicide thoughts."

"The patient began exhibiting symptoms of disinhibition, grandiosity and
expansive mood around week four [after eight weeks] the patient became
agitated and said she would kill herself."

"[11 days after starting paroxetine] the patient was hospitalized for
psychosis with auditory hallucinations and superficial cuts."

Yet this was a drug that was supposed to make children happier and
reduce the risk of suicide.

The company knew it had a problem. In an internal memo to senior
executives in 1998 the product director for paroxetine admitted:

"The results of the studies were disappointing. The possibility of
obtaining a safety statement from this data was considered but rejected.
Consultation of the marketing teams confirmed that this would be
unacceptable commercially."

In other words, publishing the data in full would undermine the drug's
safety profile and put profits at risk. It took five years for this
information to reach the public domain and only then as a result of the
BBC investigation. In the intervening years doctors continued to
prescribe a drug to tens of thousands of vulnerable children, ignorant
of the fact that it had not been shown to work and was harmful to some.

Lawsuits Reveal Questionable Paper Trail

This has been described by British psychiatrist Dr. David Healy as "the
biggest medical scandal since thalidomide." Dr. Healy, rather than the
regulatory authorities charged with monitoring the safety of medicines,
was instrumental in uncovering the evidence at the heart of the scandal.
It was a series of U.S. legal actions that led Dr. Healy, as an expert
witness, and the legal team with whom he was working, deep into GSK's
secret archives, where they found a series of damning internal
documents.

What this paper trail reveals is how the company, with no hope of
obtaining a children's license, devised a back-door method of marketing
paroxetine for childhood depression. In came the spin-doctors to bury
the inconvenient facts and spread the good news to doctors around the
world that paroxetine was safe and effective for children.

Drug companies discovered long ago that doctors are much more likely to
be persuaded by their peers than by the hard sell of sales reps. So GSK
built a business relationship with several leading academics to write
articles and speak at conferences, effectively selling paroxetine for
the company. They are known in the trade as "Key Opinion Leaders."

Internal company documents reveal that Professor Martin Keller, Chair of
Psychiatry at Brown University in the U.S., was one of the company's
leading Key Opinion Leaders. He was named as the author of Study 329.
But the documents cast doubt on whether he actually analyzed the data
himself and wrote the final paper. In a memo, Professor Keller thanks a
ghost writer for the initial preparation of the study manuscript -- a
ghost writer who works for a medical public relations company hired by
GSK:

"You did a superb job with this. Thank you very much. It is excellent.
Enclosed are some rather minor changes from me."

It is clear from the internal correspondence that the ghost writer was
making some important decisions about how to present the data for
publication. At one point a senior GSK executive comments that: "It
seems incongruous that we state that paroxetine is safe yet report so
many Serious Adverse Events."

GSK suggests to the public relations person that she make clear
paroxetine may have caused all 11 of the serious side-effects. But the
final article
says: "Of the 11 patients, only headache (1 patient) was considered to
be related to the treatment."

The paper never states clearly how many children became suicidal, nor
does it explore whether the drug was to blame. Instead, it concludes
that paroxetine is "generally well-tolerated and effective".

The next step in GSK's marketing plan was to get the study published.
Doctors rely on medical journals to give them advice they can trust. The
first journal GSK approached spotted flaws in the study and rejected it.
So the company sent it to the premier children's mental health magazine,
the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
Its peer reviewers also spotted the flaws, as is clear from their
confidential
comments:

"Overall. Results do not clearly indicate efficacy, authors need to
clearly note this."

"The relatively high rate of serious adverse effects was not addressed
in the discussion."

"Given the high placebo response rate, are [these drugs] an acceptable
first-line therapy for depressed teenagers?"

Nevertheless, the journal published the study. Who knows how many child
and adolescent psychiatrists around the world were influenced by the
article's misleading conclusion?

At the same time, another of GSK's PR people was saying in an internal
memo:

"Originally we had planned to do extensive media relations surrounding
this study until we actually viewed the results. Essentially the study
did not really show paroxetine was effective in treating adolescent
depression, which is not something we want to publicize."

Objective Medical Opinion?

When I first started looking at Study 329 for the BBC in 2002, I was
confused about its findings. The published article's conclusions seemed
at odds with the details of the study. I went to Philadelphia to
interview one of the authors and came across another of GSK's Key
Opinion Leaders -- Dr.
Neil Ryan, an eminent child psychiatrist at the University of
Pittsburgh. He was speaking at an American Psychiatric Association
symposium sponsored by GSK but I had no reason at that time to think he
was anything other than independent.

Dr. Ryan told the audience that paroxetine was effective for children
with depression. He didn't mention anything about the apparent high rate
of psychiatric side-effects of paroxetine in Study 329. But the more I
studied the data, the more convinced I became that paroxetine was
causing serious problems for some kids who took it. When I returned to
Britain, I pursued him by telephone but he refused to talk to me about
it.

Fast forward four years, when the internal GSK documents revealed what
had actually been going on behind the scenes. Dr. Ryan had been asking
the company that sponsored his research how he should deal with my
awkward questions, emailing all my correspondence to them. In one email
he said:

"I'll call you again later today and you can advise on how might be best
to handle this."

GSK denies that it promoted paroxetine for off-label use through Key
Opinion Leaders or any other route, laying the responsibility firmly at
the door of individual clinicians.

A statement issued by the company reads: "Any decision to prescribe a
medicine outside its authorized indications, in the EU or the U.S., is
made by a doctor on the basis of his/her clinical judgement and the
interests of their patient."

But where do doctors get the information from that gives them the
confidence to prescribe off-label? From medical journals and
conferences.

It was the documents that in the end exposed the Key Opinion Leaders and
the drug company. Without the U.S. legal action we would have been none
the wiser. The drug is now effectively banned in the UK for use in
under-18s and in the U.S. it carries a "black box" warning about the
risk of suicidal behaviour.

This drug was GSK's golden egg for many years and a lucrative business
was built around its promotion. So it is perhaps not surprising the
company dismissed my investigation as media scaremongering. What is
surprising, though, is how many doctors on both sides of the Atlantic
who claim to practice evidence-based medicine still refuse to
acknowledge the damage the drugs can do -- even though the evidence
comes from GSK's own RCTs and the company's internal correspondence
clearly shows how they tried to cover it up.

Sales Affected by Warning Labels

Dr. Mike Shooter, former President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists
and a child psychiatrist who used to prescribe paroxetine, says:

"I personally felt cheated and heaven only knows what the children,
adolescents and their parents and their doctors on the other end of that
felt. Very much the same. This has huge implications, right through
medicine."

Professor Keller and Dr. Ryan seem unabashed by their role in the
scandal. A few months ago Professor Keller co-authored another paper, on
the impact of media reporting on prescribing. Rather than exploring how
those conducting the trials overlooked the damage to children caused by
the drug, he and his co-authors expressed concern that prescriptions of
antidepressants to children have declined sharply in the U.S. since the
addition of the black box warning -- as if the increased risk of
suicidal behaviour on the drugs wasn't something that should affect
prescribing.

The FDA is now considering whether to remove the black box warning on
paroxetine and other similar antidepressants because it is scaring
doctors.
In the UK, the regulatory authorities are investigating whether GSK
acted fraudulently in its conduct over Study 329. Theoretically,
criminal charges could be brought, but the medicine's regulator is
fully-funded by the drugs industry, so don't hold your breath.

Meanwhile, Stephanie Gatchell and her husband have moved away from the
home that holds so many awful memories, to start a new life in Ireland.
They can't forgive GlaxoSmithKline for concealing what it knew about
paroxetine:

"I can't understand how they could possibly be so devious, and all just
because of profit. I think the decision-makers in that company should be
brought to justice. They have a lot to explain."

Do drugs put a damper on love?

 
Do drugs put a damper on love?
Not only can antidepressants suppress sexual desire, but they may affect our ability to want a mate at all.
 
Antidepressants may not only suppress the sexual drive, but may quell interest in having a long-term partner, acting as a damper on love, according to two scientists.

Love's first rush is a private madness between two people, all-consuming and, if mutually felt, endlessly wonderful.

Couples think about the other obsessively -- on a roller coaster of euphoria when together, longing when apart.

"It's temporary insanity," says Helen Fisher, an evolutionary anthropologist at Rutgers University.

Now, from her studies of the brains of lovers in the throes of the initial tumble, Fisher has developed a controversial theory. She and her collaborator, psychiatrist J. Anderson Thomson of the University of Virginia, believe that Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil and other antidepressants alter brain chemistry so as to blunt the intense cutting edge of new love.

Fisher and Thomson, who describe their theory in a chapter in the book, "Evolutionary Cognitive Neuroscience," aren't talking just about the notorious ability of the drugs to damp sexual desire and performance, although that, they believe, plays its part. They think the drugs also sap the craving for a mate -- perhaps even the brain's very ability to fall in love.

And that would be bad news, given the widespread use of antidepressants in this country -- about 10 percent of adult women and 4 percent of adult men take the drugs, according to a 2004 report by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics.

Although they still lack solid evidence that more Americans are having trouble falling in love these days, the scientists do have animal and laboratory science along with some human studies to whet their research appetites.

For one thing, there's brain chemistry. The chemicals involved in the heart-pounding fall over the cliff into another's life, including dopamine, norepinephrine and serotonin, are the very chemicals altered by many anti-depressants.

Fisher cites animal studies showing, for example, that female prairie voles, naturally loyal to one mate, lose interest in him when dopamine is suppressed. The early human version of mate-pairing -- romantic love -- is also associated with increased activity in dopamine pathways. And SSRI antidepressants suppress that activity.

SSRIs also are known to curb obsessive thinking, the kind of focused state that is central to the first blush of romance.

For both these reasons, Fisher suggests that SSRIs could jeopardize intense romantic love.

There are few studies on the effects of antidepressants on aspects of love beyond libido and sexual performance. But in an intriguing experiment, one Canadian psychologist, Maryanne Fisher (no relation to Helen), reported evidence in a small 2004 study of what she termed "courtship blunting" in women taking antidepressants.

Asked to rate the attractiveness of men's faces, women taking the drugs rated the men more negatively and breezed through the pictures faster than women not on antidepressants.

There is also anecdotal evidence -- and although such stories may be anathema to hard science, they can provide the basis for research questions. Thomson collects them.

A 20-year-old man who had been on antidepressants from the ages of 15 to 18 was reluctant to take them again, despite feeling depressed. "No one told him about the sexual side effects. In retrospect, he realized he had the sexual side effects and that might have contributed to his not dating," Thomson says.

Any drug that has sexual side effects, Thomson says, could well blunt other chemicals the brain uses to intently focus on one person or to work up the obsession necessary to fall in love in the first place.

Then there was the 42-year-old single woman who had not been on a date in the eight years she had been taking an antidepressant. "She had not felt any desire (to date) for at least that period of time," he says.

Jerry Frankel, a urologist from Plano, Texas, who's been married for more than 40 years, was so conflicted about his experience on antidepressants he wrote to a national newspaper.

"My usual enthusiasm for life was replaced by blandness," he wrote. "My romantic feelings for my wife declined dramatically." He was willing to risk depression again in order to regain his zest for romantic depth.

Fisher and Thomson's theory is new enough that many therapists say they've never heard it discussed.

But Richard Tuch, psychoanalyst at the New Center for Psychoanalysis, says he has long been concerned, especially for adolescents, that if pharmaceuticals interfere with sexuality, they also might be interfering with a basic system that teens require to learn about the opposite sex. Still, he's cautious about sounding an alarm. "Antidepressants can save a person's life," he says.

Mental health experts like him already fear that, with recent publicity about suicidal risks in adolescents taking antidepressants, people whose lives could be improved or even saved with medications won't take them. Prescriptions for antidepressants for people 18 and younger fell by 20 percent since the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning in March 2004 that the drugs might increase the risk of suicide, according to research published in the Sept. 2, 2005, issue of Psychiatric News.

If people think the drugs will hamper their ability to find Mr. or Ms. Right, psychiatrists say, even more might avoid the potentially life-saving medications.

Fisher doesn't quarrel with the drugs' benefits for many with chronic, severe depression. But she worries about people who take the drugs to get through a break-up, a death or a job loss, then keep taking them.

"I'm concerned about well-adjusted men and women who go through a crisis and start taking antidepressants," she says. "They continue taking them, not realizing they may be suppressing these other systems."

Physicians, she says, aren't asking enough of the right questions when they ask their patients about side effects. Lack of awareness of a potentially troubling side effect -- becoming blase about romance -- is reminiscent of the years immediately after the first SSRI, Prozac, was approved in 1988.

At that time, reports were that only about 6 percent of patients suffered sexual side effects, but the low rate is now understood to have resulted because doctors failed to ask questions about sex and patients were reluctant to bring it up. A later analysis put that figure at about 30 percent, and a 2001 study at as high as 73 percent. It is one of the top reasons that people stop taking the drugs.

Doctors might be getting savvier about warning patients about the potential for sexual side effects. But most probably are not asking patients if they feel a blunted drive to search for love.

So far, there is no evidence that a dulling of romantic interest is a universal antidepressant side effect. And when it does appear in people who need the drugs to live and function, doses might be adjusted, or medications changed, Fisher says.

Some scientists dismiss Fisher and Thomson's theory. "Antidepressants tend to tone down the emotions. But they don't interfere with the ability to fall in love. No," says Otto Kernberg, director of the Personality Disorders Institute at the New York Presbyterian Hospital and author of six books on love.

But Tuch says the theory is challenging. "I think it's a call to the psychiatric community to study this. She's raised the question. Now it's our responsibility to look into it," he says.

Until more is known, Thomson has some suggestions for people on antidepressants.

"Regularly ask, 'Do I still need to be on them?' If you're having sexual side effects, ask if everything is being done to mitigate them, because those responses might also be linked to unconscious romantic desires.

"And ask yourself, 'How is this affecting my relationships?'.

Families tell of beatings, assaults at Delaware Psychiatric Center

Janice Ambrose breaks down in tears Tuesday while describing the treatment of her daughter at Delaware Psychiatric Center

http://tinyurl.com/3x5r8b

Families tell of beatings, assaults

Lawmakers conduct hearing into alleged abuse at hospital

By LEE WILLIAMS, The News Journal

Posted Wednesday, August 22, 2007

DOVER -- On a rainy night at Legislative Hall, mothers, fathers, sisters and brothers spoke in excruciating detail about years of beatings and sexual assaults inside the Delaware Psychiatric Center.

They recounted phone calls from DPC about a son or daughter who was strapped at the ankles and wrists to a cot, and then secluded in a room at the state hospital. They angrily recalled the unreturned phone calls left for doctors and administrators at DPC.

One mother, crying the entire time, recreated for lawmakers attending a legislative committee hearing Tuesday how her daughter suffered multiple bruises from attendants who immobilized her inside an admissions unit called Kent-3.

Another mother told lawmakers how a male patient stuck his hand down her daughter's pants.

"My daughter was housed on K-3, with some of the most difficult psychiatric patients in the state, young, innocent and scared," said Janice Ambrose. "It made me sick to have to leave her there."

Tuesday's more than four-hour hearing is the first of at least two scheduled public hearings of the Delaware Psychiatric Center Investigative Committee. The bipartisan group of 11 House members and one alternate was organized by House Majority Leader Richard C. Cathcart, R-Middletown, to investigate allegations first raised in a series by The News Journal about patient abuse, sexual assault and intimidation of staff members who report abuse inside DPC.

"We're here for the purpose of giving families, former patients and employees the opportunity to testify before this committee," Cathcart said as the hearing began. "We're also going to give the administration an opportunity to testify. We will take that information and put that into a report, which could include recommendations, which could include passing the information we gather on to another authority."

One of the first to testify was Ambrose. In tears, which continued throughout her testimony, she said her first hint at problems was a phone call from a male nurse who said her daughter was being forced into four-point restraints.

"I said I need to speak to a doctor," Ambrose said. "Of course, I didn't get a response."

An attending physician never spoke to her, she said.

"My daughter was in restraints, off and on, for two months," she said. "I visited her when I could."

Ambrose was told her daughter had been "sexually inappropriately touched by another patient."

"I told all of them that my daughter had never been sexually active," Ambrose said.

"Before I even got home that day, a resident called me and said there had been another incident," she said. "Another patient had put his hands down her pants."

Patients heavily drugged   

Ambrose saw patients so drugged they were "sitting half in and half out of chairs, while attendants sat and talked on their cell phones."

Her daughter went days without eating, she said.

"The staff there, they're not trained, not all of them," she said. "This state has a problem from the bottom up, and the top down."

Ambrose didn't know about other problems in Kent-3. "But I do know this, something bad happened there. I can see it in my daughter's eyes. I need some help. My daughter needs some help, and you've got to do something. Please don't look the other way. There are things going on in that facility, and they're scrambling to cover them up."

Cathcart called for the investigatory hearings last month after reading The News Journal series, but before two DPC attendants were arrested, one for allegedly breaking a patient's jaw and the other on charges of raping a female patient in a toilet.

Cathcart invited Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services Vince Meconi, DPC director Susan Watson Robinson and her boss Renata Henry, director of the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, to the hearings.

None of the three testified Tuesday, although Meconi and Henry were criticized by witnesses who appeared before the committee, which met inside a packed hearing room on the second floor of Legislative Hall.

"I strongly disagree with Secretary Meconi's Aug. 20 press release, in which he expressed his 'shock and disappointment' over 'unfounded and unsubstantiated claims' made against the DPC," said Maryanne McGonegal, a longtime community activist. "Mr. Meconi has had ample opportunity to respond to the stories which have been uncovered. I am here to state unequivocally my continued support of the reports published in The News Journal."

McGonegal called for immediate change at DPC, starting from the top. Her testimony drew applause from the crowd.

"I call for the resignation of my friend and former co-worker, Secretary Vince Meconi, and Renata Henry, Director of Substance Abuse and Mental Health," she said. "The people of Delaware deserve no less."

In 2001, when McGonegal was a research analyst for the Legislature's Joint Sunset Committee, she prepared a report about DPC to lawmakers.

"From the information I received then, and from the information I receive now, there's abuse going on," she said. "It pains me to say it, but you'll hear the exact opposite from the DPC administration."

Not everyone told the committee about problems at the state hospital.

Zanthea Benson is a certified nurse's aide at DPC. She's been there for 17 years and for the last year and a half, she's been assigned to Kent-3.

"I enjoy working with the patient population at DPC, which has become my second family," she said. "I believe the good definitely outweighs the bad. Yes, there have been allegations, but it doesn't mean it's everyone as a whole."

Committee member Rep. Robert J. Valihura Jr., R-Delaware North, asked Benson whether DPC had improved over the past five years.

Benson said, "The work experience has gotten better. We do work pretty much as a team. Patient care is our number one priority."

Ken Burton, who started at DPC in 1970 as a housekeeper and is now a licensed practical nurse, said he believed patient care has improved.

"Every facility has some issues, and I do personally feel they do not go unrecognized at DPC," Burton said. "In all of my 37 years, there has never been one moment of doubt, fear or retaliation."

Valihura asked Burton if he'd seen abuse. "Seen I have not, heard of, I have," Burton said.

Low pay, Burton said, has resulted in hiring younger employees at DPC who are not as responsible "as the more mature adults."

Cathcart asked if there could be a better process for screening employees.

"I do," Burton said. "You have to be able to dig deeper."

Hired despite convictions

Employee background checks has been a key issue at DPC. At least two DPC employees, including attendant union President Gregory Boston, continue to work at DPC despite prior felony convictions.

Speaking to lawmakers, Boston addressed for the first time The News Journal's report about his conviction for shooting two men in the face with a shotgun and several felony charges through the mid-1990s, prior to his being hired by DPC.

"I have a past criminal record," he said. "It is that, past. I deeply regret the life I once led. Society is hard on those who are troubled. We would never stand by and watch those patients be disrespected, neglected or abused."

Boston, who has worked at DPC for 16 years, said he has been the target of an abuse allegation inside DPC, but that he tries to contain incidents before they escalate.

"I am offended that all the good work that has been done, and all the lives saved by DPC workers have been discredited," he said. "At this particular job we save lives. Those things are not being mentioned in the paper.

"To me, we take patients to the movies, to the buffet, we treat them like family. Does abuse happen? I'm sure it does, but those are isolated incidents."

Tony Dunn of Wilmington told the committee his son was assaulted three times at DPC, once by a patient and twice by staff members. He said he "pressed charges" against the staff for hurting his son, but the charges were later dropped.

"It's not just the state hospital, it's the state of Delaware that needs to change," said Dunn, who said he suffers from psychiatric problems. "I'm a little bit appalled this has gone unnoticed for so long."

Melaine Minear, a Dover resident, told lawmakers she is "a member of a family that has endured 30 years of a roller coaster ride."

Minear's brother was transfered to DPC from the state prison in Smyrna.

"This is not a board game, Secretary Meconi," she said. "The players are real people."

Minear said several members of her family met with a contract psychiatrist about her brother, but years of phone calls to DPC produced no answers other than a form letter from Meconi.

"I should frame it and put it on my wall. It's insulting," she said. Minear believes DPC hides misconduct "behind the walls of confidentiality. You have no idea how this has cost our family."

Before Tuesday's hearing, Meconi criticized the format, insisting that lawmakers obtain signed waivers from patients' families and from any DPC staffers who testify about problems at the state hospital. He also complained about the scheduling, insisting that he and his leadership team shouldn't have to wait until a second public hearing, scheduled for Sept. 11, to respond to complaints raised during Tuesday's hearing.

Depending on information that comes from the hearings, Cathcart said a full investigation by federal authorities may be necessary. Cathcart has said he may turn over all of the findings directly to U.S. Attorney Colm Connolly, along with a request for an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. Connolly, who was invited to attend the hearings as an observer, has said he notified Justice Department regulators in Washington, D.C., about possible civil rights violations at DPC.

Most of the major criticisms of DPC are not expected to come during the two public hearings. Cathcart said more than a dozen witnesses have said they want to brief lawmakers behind closed doors, and the committee has several confidential meetings planned.

Look at entire system

Jill Shute, who serves as vice president of the board of directors of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Delaware, urged the committee "to not stop this investigation at the walls of DPC, but to move out into the community to assure that adequate staffing and quality care are provided there as well."

"As a NAMI support leader for the last 24 years, I have heard hundreds of stories from families whose loved ones receive care from the state mental health system," Shute said. "Many families tell of the caring nurses and attentive doctors at DPC who provide quality care, while other families have tragic stories of unmet needs in Delaware's fractured mental health delivery system."

Shute criticized the hospital for a constant turnover of administrators who were booted out for bucking the system.

"We believe it is significant that during the 20 years of NAMI-DE's monitoring, the state hospital has had 11 different directors, several of whom were driven out or terminated because they dared to advocate for quality care," she said.

Shute cited three concerns and gave the lawmakers a list of recommendations:

* The well-being and safety of patients at DPC.

"Delawareans with mental illness deserve to receive their medical treatment free from physical and verbal abuse and humiliation," Shute said. "The patients at DPC are some of Delaware's most vulnerable, misunderstood citizens."

Her advocacy group is concerned about the use of restraints and seclusion within DPC, and she cited federal legislation passed in 2000 that restricted the use of restraints, adding that in "2004, the medical director of the [Delaware Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health] implemented an initiative to eliminate the use of restraints because others methods of de-escalating a patient are more effective and humane."

* A healthy living and working environment.

Shute said that NAMI-DE understands that the age and disrepair of some of the buildings on the DPC campus "precludes providing the highest quality environment."

"We applaud Governor Minner for requesting a new building designed for the delivery of quality care," she said. "However, until that building exists, maintenance at DPC cannot continue to be deferred. NAMI-DE asks for repairs and upgrades to be made promptly at DPC."

* Quality care from a medically focused treatment plan.

More than anything, Shute said, DPC needs an experienced psychiatrist as its medical director whose sole responsibility is overseeing medical care.


Another One Bites the Dust!

Palm Beach Post (Florida)
August 4, 2007
THERAPIST CHARGED WITH MISCONDUCT SURRENDERS LICENSE
By KEVIN DEUTSCH

A 36-year-old therapist arrested last year for allegedly groping at least five female patients during two days of therapy sessions at a residential treatment facility relinquished his professional license Friday, according to the Florida Department of Health.

Todd Rabone of Parkland was a therapist at the Drug Abuse Foundation of Palm Beach County at 400 S. Swinton Ave. Detectives charged him with sexual misconduct by a psychotherapist in November after several women accused him of making sexual comments, exposing himself and inappropriately touching them.

Rabone's DNA was identified on a paper towel that one of the patients saw him throw into a garbage can Aug. 22, detectives said. Rabone has pleaded not guilty.
Rabone has been suspended from practicing in Florida since March.

 

Psych Front Group EXPOSED

NAMI EXPOSED (NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness)
See the  new 2007 batch of photos exposing NAMI as a front group for pharma here: http://www.namipharma.org/photos-1.html 
 
 
 
 

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Firms accused of altering entries on Wikipedia site

Seroquel is an anti-psychotic drug, there are documented cases suicidality and it is included with many other drugs in this May 2, 2007 FDA drug warning on suicidality.

http://edinburghnews.scotsman.com/business.cfm?id=1297092007

Firms accused of altering entries on Wikipedia site

A NUMBER of top companies and organisations have been accused of altering their entries on the online encyclopedia website Wikipedia.

The site can be edited by anyone, but in several cases companies are deleting embarrassing episodes from their history, according to WikiScanner, a site that traces the source of changes.

Among the companies alleged to be involved are Asda owner Wal-Mart, Disney, AstraZeneca and Sony. In one example, references to claims that Seroquel, a drug developed by AstraZeneca, carries a risk of making teenagers "more likely to think about harming or killing themselves" were deleted by a user of a computer registered to the drug firm.

The change happened despite the US Food and Drug Administration ruling in May that makers of all antidepressants update labels to warn about the increased risks of suicidal thinking in young adults.

AstraZeneca confirmed it was "investigating questions regarding a change to the Wikipedia entry".


Direct-to-Consumer Drug Ads Booming Despite Criticisms

http://www.ajc.com/health/content/shared-auto/healthnews/osta/607345.html

Excerpts:

Calling for a moratorium, rather than just restrictions, on such advertising might be in order, say the authors of a study in the Aug. 16 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Total pharmaceutical industry spending on promotion soared from $11.4 billion in 1996 to almost $30 billion in 2005. During that time, spending on direct-to-consumer advertising increased by 330 percent, yet this type of advertising only made up 14 percent of total promotional expenditures.

These mass-media advertising blitzes generally start before a drug's safety track record has been established in the marketplace, the researchers said.

"For the majority of heavily advertised drugs, direct-to-consumer advertising starts within about a year of FDA approval and typically well before the safety profile has been established," Donohue said.

The antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which include Celexa, Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft, led the field in promotional spending with more than $1 billion spent in 2005. Next were statins ($859 million), then proton pump inhibitors ($884 million).

At the same time, Donohue stated, "The FDA's monitoring of drug advertising has not kept pace with the volume of advertising of prescription drugs. The number of warning letters going out to drug companies has decreased markedly [from 142 in 1997 to 21 in 2006], and the number of FDA staff responsible for ads was relatively flat in recent years, in spite of spending increases."

It may be that the rules themselves are sufficient, but that enforcement powers are not.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Stomach meds tied to mental slowing in seniors

 

Stomach meds tied to mental slowing in seniors

Mon Aug 6, 2007 2:48PM EDT
 

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Taking certain types of medication to deal with heartburn and excess stomach acid may increase the risk of cognitive impairment in the elderly, according to a new report.

The drugs in question -- called histamine-2 receptor antagonists or H2As -- include popular medicines such as Zantac and Pepcid. Previous reports have yielded conflicting results regarding the effect of H2As on cognition. Recent studies have generally supported an adverse effect, but did not reach definitive conclusions.

In their study in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society, Dr. Malaz Boustani, from Indiana University in Indianapolis, and colleagues used a standard screening test to assess cognitive impairment in 1558 African Americans, 65 years and older, who had normal mental abilities at the outset of the study.

During follow-up, 275 subjects (17.7 percent) showed signs of diminished cognitive capacity, the report indicates. After accounting for age, education level and medical history, treatment with H2As more than doubled the likelihood of developing cognitive impairment.

"This study suggests that long-term use of H2As is associated with cognitive impairment in elderly African Americans," Dr. Boustani's team concludes. "Because a significant number of Americans are exposed to H2As every year, with approximately 16 million prescriptions in 2005, the association between H2As and cognitive impairment merits further study."

SOURCE: Journal of the American Geriatric Society, August 2007.


Doctoring the Evidence: GlaxoSmithKline Pushes Depression Drug

http://corpwatch.org/article.php?id=14606

Doctoring the Evidence: GlaxoSmithKline Pushes Depression Drug

by Shelley JofreSpecial to Corp Watch
July 30th, 2007

A striking young woman with a talent for painting, Sharise Gatchell was - like many teenagers - painfully self-conscious. At 14, she moved with her family from South Africa to England where at first she found it hard to make friends. By the age of 16 she was acutely embarrassed that her periods hadn't started and felt she was sweating excessively. Just the sort of thing to make adolescence even more painful than usual. Her mother, Stephanie, took her to see a consultant physician at the local hospital. Stephanie Gatchell recalls:

"During that consultation she became a bit emotional because she was explaining to him about the problems she had and how it affected her social life. Then she started crying and I was amazed. He asked her, 'Sharise, do you sometimes feel like ending it all?', and I couldn't believe it when she said 'Yes I do.' And then he started talking about paroxetine and suggesting that she try it."

"Off-label" Prescriptions

Paroxetine - better known as Paxil in the U.S. - is an antidepressant. It is licensed only for adults, but doctors are allowed to prescribe any medicine if they think it will help their patient, a practice called "off-label" prescribing. Sharise was not the only teenager getting paroxetine off-label. Around 7,000 children a year were on the drug in the UK; and many more in the U.S.

Within days of starting on paroxetine, Stephanie noticed a dramatic change in her daughter: she became more confident. But with the confidence came aggression and worse:

"One day in the kitchen her sleeve pulled up slightly and I noticed that there were cut marks on her left arm. I couldn't believe my eyes. She was obviously self-harming while she was on the drug, something she's never ever done before."

Stephanie persuaded her daughter to stop taking paroxetine. But in 2003 Sharise went back on it without telling her mother. When her parents returned from a weekend break, Stephanie immediately realized something was terribly wrong:

"I went upstairs before my husband came in, and the moment I got to the landing at the top and I turned round and looked, she was hanging from the loft hatch. I tried to revive her, but before I even started I realized I was too late."

Next to her daughter's suicide note lay a packet of paroxetine. Stephanie instinctively blamed the drug and now blames herself for letting her daughter take it. But she couldn't have known what the drug's manufacturer had known for years.

GlaxoSmithKline Experiments on Children

UK-based GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), the second largest drug company in the world, which recorded 2006 sales of over $45 billion, had begun a series of clinical trials in the mid-1990s to test whether paroxetine would work in depressed children. Paroxetine had already been hailed as a wonder drug in adults as a treatment for everything from depression and stress to anxiety and even shyness. By the new millennium 100 million paroxetine prescriptions had been written worldwide, bringing in $2 billion a year for GSK and placing the antidepressant a close second to Prozac in popularity.

With the adult market sewn up, the company sought new ways to make money from the drug, or "life cycle management," as the approach is known in the pharmaceutical industry. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration wanted to boost the number of medicines tested for children and had introduced an incentive that would give companies a six-month extension on their patent just for carrying out pediatric trials. For paroxetine alone that would be worth $1 billion. And if GSK could be the first company to prove its antidepressant was safe and effective for children, the rewards would be even higher, as paroxetine could become the market leader.

Hundreds of children were recruited from around the world to take part in three clinical trials. One group was given the drug, the other a placebo. They were randomized controlled trials (RCT) where neither the children nor their doctors knew whether they were taking the active drug or the placebo until the end of the study. This is widely accepted as the best way of working out whether a drug causes a particular effect: the gold standard in terms of evidence.

But the outcome of these the trials was not what GSK had been hoping for. Paroxetine proved no better than placebo. In the biggest trial, Study 329, which was conducted across several sites in the U.S., 11 of the 93 children who took paroxetine developed serious side-effects; seven had to be hospitalized. Significantly more had self-harmed or attempted suicide on the drug than on placebo.

The BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) obtained confidential case reports from Study 329 which detail what happened to them:

"[13 days after starting paroxetine] the patient became very angry. He punched pictures, broke glass and sustained lacerations that required six sutures... he expressed hopelessness and possible suicide thoughts."

"The patient began exhibiting symptoms of disinhibition, grandiosity and expansive mood around week four [after eight weeks] the patient became agitated and said she would kill herself."

"[11 days after starting paroxetine] the patient was hospitalized for psychosis with auditory hallucinations and superficial cuts."

Yet this was a drug that was supposed to make children happier and reduce the risk of suicide.

The company knew it had a problem. In an internal memo to senior executives in 1998 the product director for paroxetine admitted:

"The results of the studies were disappointing. The possibility of obtaining a safety statement from this data was considered but rejected. Consultation of the marketing teams confirmed that this would be unacceptable commercially."

In other words, publishing the data in full would undermine the drug's safety profile and put profits at risk. It took five years for this information to reach the public domain and only then as a result of the BBC investigation. In the intervening years doctors continued to prescribe a drug to tens of thousands of vulnerable children, ignorant of the fact that it had not been shown to work and was harmful to some.

Lawsuits Reveal Questionable Paper Trail

This has been described by British psychiatrist Dr. David Healy as "the biggest medical scandal since thalidomide." Dr. Healy, rather than the regulatory authorities charged with monitoring the safety of medicines, was instrumental in uncovering the evidence at the heart of the scandal. It was a series of U.S. legal actions that led Dr. Healy, as an expert witness, and the legal team with whom he was working, deep into GSK's secret archives, where they found a series of damning internal documents.

What this paper trail reveals is how the company, with no hope of obtaining a children's license, devised a back-door method of marketing paroxetine for childhood depression. In came the spin-doctors to bury the inconvenient facts and spread the good news to doctors around the world that paroxetine was safe and effective for children.

Drug companies discovered long ago that doctors are much more likely to be persuaded by their peers than by the hard sell of sales reps. So GSK built a business relationship with several leading academics to write articles and speak at conferences, effectively selling paroxetine for the company. They are known in the trade as "Key Opinion Leaders."

Internal company documents reveal that Professor Martin Keller, Chair of Psychiatry at Brown University in the U.S., was one of the company's leading Key Opinion Leaders. He was named as the author of Study 329. But the documents cast doubt on whether he actually analyzed the data himself and wrote the final paper. In a memo, Professor Keller thanks a ghost writer for the initial preparation of the study manuscript - a ghost writer who works for a medical public relations company hired by GSK:

"You did a superb job with this. Thank you very much. It is excellent. Enclosed are some rather minor changes from me."

It is clear from the internal correspondence that the ghost writer was making some important decisions about how to present the data for publication. At one point a senior GSK executive comments that: "It seems incongruous that we state that paroxetine is safe yet report so many Serious Adverse Events."

GSK suggests to the public relations person that she make clear paroxetine may have caused all 11 of the serious side-effects. But the final article says: "Of the 11 patients, only headache (1 patient) was considered to be related to the treatment."

The paper never states clearly how many children became suicidal, nor does it explore whether the drug was to blame. Instead, it concludes that paroxetine is "generally well-tolerated and effective".

The next step in GSK's marketing plan was to get the study published. Doctors rely on medical journals to give them advice they can trust. The first journal GSK approached spotted flaws in the study and rejected it. So the company sent it to the premier children's mental health magazine, the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Its peer reviewers also spotted the flaws, as is clear from their confidential comments:

"Overall. Results do not clearly indicate efficacy, authors need to clearly note this."

"The relatively high rate of serious adverse effects was not addressed in the discussion."

"Given the high placebo response rate, are [these drugs] an acceptable first-line therapy for depressed teenagers?"

Nevertheless, the journal published the study. Who knows how many child and adolescent psychiatrists around the world were influenced by the article's misleading conclusion?

At the same time, another of GSK's PR people was saying in an internal memo:

"Originally we had planned to do extensive media relations surrounding this study until we actually viewed the results. Essentially the study did not really show paroxetine was effective in treating adolescent depression, which is not something we want to publicize."

Objective Medical Opinion?

When I first started looking at Study 329 for the BBC in 2002, I was confused about its findings. The published article's conclusions seemed at odds with the details of the study. I went to Philadelphia to interview one of the authors and came across another of GSK's Key Opinion Leaders - Dr. Neil Ryan, an eminent child psychiatrist at the University of Pittsburgh. He was speaking at an American Psychiatric Association symposium sponsored by GSK but I had no reason at that time to think he was anything other than independent.

Dr. Ryan told the audience that paroxetine was effective for children with depression. He didn't mention anything about the apparent high rate of psychiatric side-effects of paroxetine in Study 329. But the more I studied the data, the more convinced I became that paroxetine was causing serious problems for some kids who took it. When I returned to Britain, I pursued him by telephone but he refused to talk to me about it.

Fast forward four years, when the internal GSK documents revealed what had actually been going on behind the scenes. Dr. Ryan had been asking the company that sponsored his research how he should deal with my awkward questions, emailing all my correspondence to them. In one email he said:

"I'll call you again later today and you can advise on how might be best to handle this."

GSK denies that it promoted paroxetine for off-label use through Key Opinion Leaders or any other route, laying the responsibility firmly at the door of individual clinicians.

A statement issued by the company reads: "Any decision to prescribe a medicine outside its authorized indications, in the EU or the U.S., is made by a doctor on the basis of his/her clinical judgement and the interests of their patient."

But where do doctors get the information from that gives them the confidence to prescribe off-label? From medical journals and conferences.

It was the documents that in the end exposed the Key Opinion Leaders and the drug company. Without the U.S. legal action we would have been none the wiser. The drug is now effectively banned in the UK for use in under-18s and in the U.S. it carries a "black box" warning about the risk of suicidal behaviour.

This drug was GSK's golden egg for many years and a lucrative business was built around its promotion. So it is perhaps not surprising the company dismissed my investigation as media scaremongering. What is surprising, though, is how many doctors on both sides of the Atlantic who claim to practice evidence-based medicine still refuse to acknowledge the damage the drugs can do - even though the evidence comes from GSK's own RCTs and the company's internal correspondence clearly shows how they tried to cover it up.

Sales Affected by Warning Labels

Dr. Mike Shooter, former President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and a child psychiatrist who used to prescribe paroxetine, says:

"I personally felt cheated and heaven only knows what the children, adolescents and their parents and their doctors on the other end of that felt. Very much the same. This has huge implications, right through medicine."

Professor Keller and Dr. Ryan seem unabashed by their role in the scandal. A few months ago Professor Keller co-authored another paper, on the impact of media reporting on prescribing. Rather than exploring how those conducting the trials overlooked the damage to children caused by the drug, he and his co-authors expressed concern that prescriptions of antidepressants to children have declined sharply in the U.S. since the addition of the black box warning - as if the increased risk of suicidal behaviour on the drugs wasn't something that should affect prescribing.

The FDA is now considering whether to remove the black box warning on paroxetine and other similar antidepressants because it is scaring doctors. In the UK, the regulatory authorities are investigating whether GSK acted fraudulently in its conduct over Study 329. Theoretically, criminal charges could be brought, but the medicine's regulator is fully-funded by the drugs industry, so don't hold your breath.

Meanwhile, Stephanie Gatchell and her husband have moved away from the home that holds so many awful memories, to start a new life in Ireland. They can't forgive GlaxoSmithKline for concealing what it knew about paroxetine:

"I can't understand how they could possibly be so devious, and all just because of profit. I think the decision-makers in that company should be brought to justice. They have a lot to explain."

*Shelley Jofre is a reporter with BBC TV's flagship current affairs program: Panorama. To learn more about Sharise Gatchell, see http://www.gevil.netopti.net/.

GlaxoSmithKline issued a statement in response to Shelley Jofre's investigation.

FDA Spanks Pfizer For Antipsychotic Ad

The drugmaker omitted important risk info and made unsubstantiated claims that Geodon is better than another drug, according to a July 16 warning letter posted on the FDA web site. And the agency asked Pfizer to stop running the ad, which appeared in an unnamed medical journal.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Psych Illnesses Lack Scientific Basis - Philadelphia Church of God

http://www.thetrumpet.com/index.php?page=aboutus

sych Illnesses Lack Scientific Basis
SOCIETYWATCH: HEALTH
July 2007

In today’s society, where every behavior needs an excuse—and a chemical fix—the distribution of psychiatric drugs has become a multi-billion-dollar industry. However, as “miracle” drugs have failed to remedy behavioral problems in society and side effects have become more pronounced, voices of dissent are growing more widespread. Now, a leading psychiatrist has, in effect, admitted that psychiatric diagnosis has no scientific basis—which means drugs prescribed for such diagnoses also have no scientific underpinning.

The Louisiana Weekly reported March 19: “With increasing international concern about the large number of children labeled with so-called psychiatric disorders and prescribed mind-altering drugs, even the pioneer of psychiatry’s billing bible and ‘godfather of adhd,’ Dr. Robert Spitzer, recently admitted that normal children are being inappropriately labeled by health care professionals.”

Spitzer was one of the main contributors to the latter editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (dsm) and personally defined more than a hundred mental disorders. In the rush to assign a name to a whole gamut of antisocial behaviors, however, it appears these “experts” overlooked a rather fundamental consideration. “What happened,” Spitzer told bbc2, “is that we made estimates of the prevalence of mental disorders totally descriptively, without considering that many of these conditions might be normal reactions which are not really disorders. That’s the problem, because we were not looking at the context in which those conditions developed” (emphasis ours).

“[P]sychiatric disorders are entirely subjective,” the Louisiana Weekly reported. “[P]sychiatrists at the American Psychiatric Association literally vote on which ‘disorders’ to include in the dsm, and the disorders are removed if they are too much trouble” 

The diagnostic system that these psychiatrists created—without looking at the context in which various behavioral problems develop—has led to millions being diagnosed with a range of conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Oppositional Defiant Disorder. “[P]sychiatrists have been using the dsm to fraudulently claim that mental disorders are the same as physical disorders, thereby justifying the prescription of powerful, psychotropic drugs, including to very young children”   Worldwide sales of drugs to treat “mental disorders,” including stimulants, antipsychotics and antidepressants, now total more than $80 billion each year.

Spitzer maintained that psychiatric drugs “don’t have serious side effects”—despite the fact that the Food and Drug Administration (fda) has reported that such side effects can include heart attack, stroke, suicidal and homicidal behavior, diabetes, psychosis and sudden death. A study published by a doctor last September in the Public Library of Science Medicine journal concluded that antidepressants increase the risk of violence in both children and adults. The manufacturer of one antipsychotic drug has agreed to a $1.2 billion settlement involving more than 25,000 individuals who claim the drug caused diabetes and other side effects.

Of course, what is being largely avoided in the debate are the causes of behavioral problems. A diagnosis and prescription is merely a mask to cover up fundamental problems in the way families are living.