Tuesday, May 06, 2008

"Should we Demand Criminal Prosecution?" New Hampshire Newspaper on Antipsychotics

North Country News (New Hampshire)
$4 Million Spent on Antipsychotics for NH Kids in 2007
Should we Demand the State to Seek Damages and Criminal Prosecution?

May 5, 2008
By Bryan Flagg

Last January, Northcountry News exposed that New Hampshire had led the nation in per capita  methylphenidate (includes drugs like Ritalin and Concerta) purchases for eight straight years. While proponents of the drug try to convince you that this amphetamine-type drug is safe, only a little internet research will show you that it’s similar to, but more powerful than cocaine, can cause tourette’s syndrome, heart problems, suicide, hallucinations and much more. While few kids were on any type of psychiatric drug when I was young, about 4 million nationally are prescribed this and other amphetamines today.

Drug Chart 

Nobody would ever even try to claim that psychiatry’s most powerful drugs, antipsychotics, are mild and there’s very little FDA-approval of these drugs for children. In the past, it was almost unheard of for a child to be prescribed such powerful, mind-altering tranquilizers, yet over 2.5 million children are placed on these drugs today.

Northcountry News recently received documents obtained from the New Hampshire Office of Medicaid Business and Policy revealing that it spent a whopping $3,999,000 on atypical antipsychotics for children under the age of eighteen in 2007, as opposed to just $285,000 in 2000. 

Atypical antipsychotics are simply the newer ones, such as Zyprexa (Eli Lilly), Abilify (Bristol-Myers Squibb), Risperdal (Jannsen – subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson), Seroquel (AstraZeneca) and Geodon (Pfizer). The older or typical antipsychotics would include Thorazine, Haldol and several others. The atypicals, as well as the typicals, can often create fear in adults labeled with mental disorders as these newer drugs can cause early death, diabetes, heart failure, psychoses, permanent muscle spasms and much more. Again, if you don’t believe this, simply go on to the internet and search the drug names, followed by the phrase “side effects.”

It is illegal for drug companies to market their products when not FDA-approved for a specific condition or age group. Last summer, Bristol-Myers Squibb settled a suit with the Boston branch of the US Attorney’s Office for $515 million after charges were filed for illegally marketing Abilify to children, and elderly dementia patients. States split the Medicaid money with the federal government, so shouldn’t New Hampshire sue for the return of our money too? 

It is also not legal for pharmaceutical companies to hide drug side effects from the Food and Drug Administration. Drug manufacturer, Eli Lilly has been sued successfully by the federal government for hiding the Zyprexa diabetes side effect from the FDA and general public. Per the New York Times, they also lost over $1.2 billion in settlements for causing diabetes with this atypical antipsychotic in 28,500 people. 

Alaska just settled with Eli Lilly for $15 million, so with double its population, the Granite State should be able to receive $30 million back by just sticking its hand out in the direction of the Indiana-based drug manufacturer. There has also been recent successful state and federal suits filed against the manufacturers of drugs such as Paxil, Neurontin and Vioxx. 

It’s gotten to the point where drug companies appear to hide side effects and illegally market their drugs as merely a minor business loss if they are sued. Hiding side effects that ultimately can cause death, dependence and permanent debilitation appears to be considered a standard cost of doing business. If regular blue-collar citizens committed gross negligence that they knew would lead to thousands of people being harmed, with some dying, and they did this for profit, and they committed fraud while taking such action, they would minimally be charged with second degree murder or manslaughter.

With that in mind, don’t you think we should be demanding that our state officials work with the federal government to take more civil action and more important, to seek criminal prosecution against executives from any drug company that would intentionally harm children and adults for profit?

Our children are the basis of our culture and the building blocks of our future. Not only must we look out for their future, their potential legacies - but I strongly feel that we must also take a hard look at those who are drugging them, causing them harm and ultimately even killing them in some cases, seemingly for the sole greed of filling their pockets with large amounts of money. Again, millions from NH alone.

One only has to look as far as the medical dictionary, as to find the definition of Atypical: Meaning not  typical, not usual, not normal, abnormal. Those few words alone are certainly enough to make one truly wonder what they are all about.

The bottom line is, our children represent the fastest growing group of users of the new generation of antipsychotic medications, even though the drugs are not approved for their use and serious safety concerns remain.

Between 2001 and 2005 alone, prescriptions for atypical antipsychotic drugs increased by 80% among children and teens and has been on a steep incline since.

While it is clear that more children are taking antipsychotic drugs, it is less clear why.  

Link:  http://www.northcountrynewsnh.com/web_pages_000003.htm


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