Monday, October 17, 2011

Prozac for Pets

The FDA has approved a reformulated version of the much-prescribed SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) Prozac (fluoxetine hydrochloride), but this one is just for dogs. Reconcile was created to treat canine separation anxiety. It is a once-daily, chewable, dog-treat-flavored drug that is supposed to be used "in conjunction with a behavior modification plan."

Reconcile is manufactured for Elanco Animal Health, a division of Eli Lilly and Company.

Of course Prozac, even for dogs, has some pretty hefty side effects: "The most common adverse events reported in decreasing order of reported frequency are: decreased appetite, depression / lethargy, shaking / shivering / tremor, vomiting, restlessness and anxiety, seizures, aggression, diarrhea, mydriasis, vocalization, weight loss, panting, confusion, incoordination, and hypersalivation."

On October 15, 2004 the FDA ordered pharmaceutical companies to add a "black box" warning to all antidepressants because the drugs could cause suicidal thoughts and actions in children and teenagers. The agency also directed the manufacturers to print and distribute medication guides with every antidepressant prescription and to inform patients of the risks. Dogs were not mentioned.

Many other side effects of Prozac in people have been documented, such as hallucinations, hostility, mood swings, panic attacks, paranoia, psychotic episodes, seizures, violent behavior, and withdrawal symptoms.

Would you want your dog, or your neighbor's dog, to be taking Prozac on top of existing behavior problems, given the known link between violence and Prozac in people? In fact, Reconcile is specifically not recommended for the treatment of aggression.

Read the full article at http://www.anh-usa.org/prozac-for-pets/.

The newer antidepressants, Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) emerged in the late 1980s/1990s, marketed as being capable of selectively targeting a chemical—serotonin—in the brain that was theorized to influence depression. This has remained a theory only, and is no more than a theory when considered for dogs. Serotonin (of which about only 5% is found in the brain) is one of the chemicals by which brain cells signal each other. SSRIs prevent serotonin from being naturally reabsorbed and thus create continued stimulation of cells.

Psychiatry has been targetting you and your children, and now it is targetting your pets.

In 1998 Alan I. Leshner, psychiatrist and former head of the National Institute of Drug Abuse stated: "My belief is that today, you [the physician] should be put in jail if you refuse to prescribe SSRIs for depression."

Today, a physician, and now a veterinarian, can be criticized, bullied and treated like a "fringe" dweller for practicing traditional, workable, diagnostic medicine. The coercive undercurrent characterizing psychiatry is manifest in many ways, and wherever it meddles, it is destructive of certainty, pride, honor, industry, integrity, peace of mind, well-being and sanity. These are qualities that we must fight to preserve not only for ourselves, but also for our animal dependents.

For more information, download and read the CCHR booklet, "Psychiatric Hoax — The Subversion of Medicine — Report and recommendations on psychiatry's destructive impact on health care."


Sunday, October 09, 2011

People’s Pharmacy: Antidepressants carry suicide risk

QUESTION: A family member took his life while on Cymbalta. He never had been depressed, but when he explained to his physician the suicidal thoughts he was having, the physician doubled his dose of Cymbalta, added Abilify and told him to come back in a week. He died by his own hand instead.

ANSWER: The Food and Drug Administration requires a highlighted warning for Cymbalta and similar drugs: "Antidepressants increased the risk compared to placebo of suicidal thinking and behavior (suicidality) in children, adolescents, and young adults in short-term studies of major depressive disorder and other psychiatric disorders. … Patients of all ages who are started on antidepressant therapy should be monitored appropriately and observed closely for clinical worsening, suicidality, or unusual changes in behavior."

More: http://www.psychsearch.net/psych_news/?p=1908

Sex therapist ordered to stop treating women

A Plantation sex therapist was ordered by the Department of Health to stop seeing female patients after a 36-year-old woman accused him of engaging in sexual contact with her.

State regulators Thursday ordered N. Jay Tow, a Plantation sex therapist, to stop treating female patients in private after the state surgeon general concluded that the therapist had confessed lurid details of his own sex life to a 36-year-old female patient and engaged in "sexual physical contact" with her during a therapy session.

Read the full article:

http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/10/06/2442233/sex-therapist-ordered-to-stop.html#ixzz1a6j8hckr

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

No Benefit, Possible Harm From Routine Depression Screening

Routine screening for depression in primary care, as recommended by organizations in the United States and Canada, has not been shown to be beneficial, and may even be harmful, according to new research published online September 19 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. In addition, in this era of
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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dope Smok'n Largo Psych in Trouble with the Department of Health

Largo, Florida psychiatrist Ronald Knaus was arrested on July 2, 2010 in nearby Clearwater for possession of marijuana. The police initially approached him due to a handgun in his waistband, per the police report. He pleaded no-contest in open court and was sentenced.


But the story does not end there.
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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Mental Health Counselor Gets 35 Years in Prison

By Jay Weaver
The Miami Herald

A federal judge Monday (9/19/2011) issued another lengthy sentence in one of the nation's biggest mental-health fraud cases, sending a Miami therapist to prison for 35 years.

The sentencing of Marianella Valera, 40, came only days after the same judge sent her 49-year-old boyfriend, Lawrence Duran, to prison for 50 years. The pair ran Miami-based American Therapeutic Corp, which prosecutors say defrauded the taxpayer-funded Medicare program of more than $200 million.

The couple's company, with clinics stretching from Miami to Fort Lauderdale to Orlando, collected $87 million in Medicare payments after submitting $205 million in false claims. The couple paid kickbacks to recruiters to supply patients suffering from dementia, Alzheimer's and addictions, but they could not have benefited from the company's purported group therapy sessions.

Valera and Duran also threw "charting" parties, where they and other American Therapeutic employees altered patients' records to make it look like they needed the purported group therapy sessions when they didn't.

A total of 34 people, including American Therapeutic employees, doctors, therapists, nurses and recruiters, have been charged in the ongoing fraud case, which is being investigated by the FBI and Health and Human Services-Office of Inspector General.

Previously, federal agents busted 42 South Florida suspects on Medicare fraud charges as part of a Justice Department sweep, including the owners of Biscayne Milieu Health Center, a Fort Lauderdale psychiatrist, Dr. Gary Kushner, patient recruiters and assisted living facility landlords. Out-of-state patients, suffering from disabilities and addictions, were lured to South Florida with the promise of a roof over their head. But once they arrived, with their valuable Medicare cards in hand, they would be squeezed into rundown assisted-living facilities and steered to purported mental-health programs — at a multimillion-dollar cost to taxpayers, authorities say. If they dropped out of the group therapy sessions, the assisted living facility owners would toss the patients out into the street.

Crime in Mental Health Care

For decades psychiatrists and psychologists have claimed a monopoly over the field of mental health. Governments and private health insurance companies have provided them with billions of dollars every year to treat "mental illness," only to face industry demands for even more funds to improve the supposed, ever-worsening state of mental health. No other industry can afford to fail consistently and expect to get more funding.

A significant portion of these appropriations and insurance reimbursements has been lost due to financial fraud within the mental health industry, an international problem estimated to cost more than a hundred billion dollars every year. The United States loses approximately $100 billion to health care fraud each year, with up to $40 billion of this due to fraudulent practices in the mental health industry.

For more information about psychiatric fraud, download and read the free CCHR booklet, Massive Fraud – Psychiatry’s Corrupt Industry – Report and recommendations on the criminal mental health monopoly.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Parents' Rights: The Brave Detroit Mother Who Stood up to Child Protective Services

The case of Maryanne Godboldo and the defense of her daughter against forced drugging by the state has quickly become legendary.

Earlier this year Godboldo, the mother of a 13-year old girl, was being accused of neglecting her child by refusing to administer the antipsychotic drug Risperdal, a drug so dangerous it is documented by international drug regulatory agencies to cause aggression, cardiac arrest, fatal blood clots, liver failure, mania, suicide and violence. Child Protective Services, accompanied by armed police officers, a SWAT team and a tank, arrived at her door with a court order to take her child away.

So what did Godboldo do? A 12-hour standoff ensued, and this mother, who was simply acting within her rights to protect her child from harm, was arrested.

Months later a web of lies and deceit involving Child Protective Services has been uncovered, and Maryanne Godboldo is not only still fighting, but winning the battle.

Click here to read more about the twisted web of lies in the Maryanne Godboldo case.

Click here to read how Johnson and Johnson, Risperdal's drug makers, currently face $1 billion in federal and state lawsuits.


Thursday, September 15, 2011

Mental Health scammers plead guilty in massive scam

Duran and Valera, who each pleaded guilty this year to Medicare fraud charges of running the biggest mental-health racket in the nation, face the prospect of spending the rest of their lives in prison for orchestrating the $205 million scam…

In the past year, Duran and Valera were charged along with 32 other American Therapeutic employees, psychiatrists, counselors, nurses, marketers, patient recruiters and others who supplied Medicare beneficiaries in exchange for kickbacks. American Therapeutic billed Medicare for thousands of patients, including many with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, who had no way of benefiting from the company’s costly group-therapy sessions, prosecutors said.

Duran and several of the employees also held “charting” parties, where they would falsify the medical records of beneficiaries to make it look like they needed therapy when they actually didn’t.

About a dozen of the defendants have been convicted, including Duran and Valera’s top aides, Margarita Acevedo, who ran the marketing operation to bring in patients, and Judith Negron, who was in charge of a subsidiary, MedLink, which laundered Medicare profits to pay employees and kickbacks. Another employee, Joseph Valdes, who worked under Acevedo, also pleaded guilty.

Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/09/13/2405602/miami-couple-faces-lengthy-sentence.html#ixzz1Y28e7Ou2


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Parents' Rights: The Brave Detroit Mother Who Stood up to Child Protective Services

The case of Maryanne Godboldo and the defense of her daughter against forced drugging by the state has quickly become legendary.

Earlier this year Godboldo, the mother of a 13-year old girl, was being accused of neglecting her child by refusing to administer the antipsychotic drug Risperdal, a drug so dangerous it is documented by international drug regulatory agencies to cause aggression, cardiac arrest, fatal blood clots, liver failure, mania, suicide and violence. Child Protective Services, accompanied by armed police officers, a SWAT team and a tank, arrived at her door with a court order to take her child away.

So what did Godboldo do? A 12-hour standoff ensued, and this mother, who was simply acting within her rights to protect her child from harm, was arrested.

Months later a web of lies and deceit involving Child Protective Services has been uncovered, and Maryanne Godboldo is not only still fighting, but winning the battle…

Click here to read more about the twisted web of lies in the Maryanne Godboldo case.

Click here to read how Johnson and Johnson, Risperdal's drug makers, currently face $1 billion in federal and state lawsuits.

Dozens arrested in Medicare mental health fraud

Sep 7th, 2011
By Jay Weaver
Miami Herald

Federal agents busted 42 South Florida suspects on Medicare fraud charges as part of a Justice Department sweep targeting hotspots from Miami to Los Angeles.

Out-of-state patients, suffering from disabilities and addictions, were lured to South Florida with the promise of a roof over their head. But once they arrived, with their valuable Medicare cards in hand, they would be squeezed into rundown Assisted-Living Facilities and steered to purported mental-health programs -- at a multimillion-dollar cost to taxpayers, authorities say. If they dropped out of the group therapy sessions, the ALF owners would toss the patients out into the street.

Collectively, they’re accused of submitting $160 million in false claims to Medicare for services that were either not needed or provided to patients.

The biggest case was the new indictment of Biscayne Milieu and 23 defendants, including the family owners, a psychiatrist, Dr. Gary Kushner, patient recruiters and ALF operators. The clinic owners are accused of paying recruiters and landlords to lure out-of-state patients into the scheme.

Crime in Mental Health Care

For decades psychiatrists and psychologists have claimed a monopoly over the field of mental health. Governments and private health insurance companies have provided them with billions of dollars every year to treat "mental illness," only to face industry demands for even more funds to improve the supposed, ever-worsening state of mental health. No other industry can afford to fail consistently and expect to get more funding.

A significant portion of these appropriations and insurance reimbursements has been lost due to financial fraud within the mental health industry, an international problem estimated to cost more than a hundred billion dollars every year. The United States loses approximately $100 billion to health care fraud each year, with up to $40 billion of this due to fraudulent practices in the mental health industry.

For more information about psychiatric fraud, download and read the free CCHR booklet, Massive Fraud - Psychiatry's Corrupt Industry - Report and recommendations on the criminal mental health monopoly.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

State suspends license of Orlando marriage and family therapist, cites 'sexual misconduct'

http://tinyurl.com/4yranqg

The Florida Department of Health has suspended the license of an Orlando marriage and family therapist for what the state agency is calling sexual misconduct. Health officials said Aldo Ivan Rodriguez inappropriately touched two patients while working as a senior adult counselor for The Center for Drug-Free Living between 2008 and 2010.

The therapist is accused of rubbing the hands and thighs of a 28-year-old patient and touching her face during a counseling session. He also asked the woman, who was seeking therapy for an opioid dependence, about her "past sexual experiences," according the state's emergency suspension order. The woman was afraid to tell anyone about the incident, health officials said.

He's accused of rubbing a second patient's hands, legs and arms and running his fingers through her hair. Health officials said he also put his hands under the woman's shirt and on her stomach and "began to move his hands upward" until she pushed them away. He told the patient, who suffered bipolar disorder and alcohol and opioid abuse, that "she needed to learn that not all men wanted something from her and that he was trying to teach her 'good' touch," health officials said.

Rodriguez resigned from the center in January 2010 and went into a private practice. It wasn't until after his resignation that staff learned about the sexual misconduct, state health officials said. He met officials at the center a month later. He admitted to touching the patients, state health officials said.

He underwent a state evaluation this June. State officials said he "violated therapeutic boundaries" and should not see female patients on a one-to-one basis. State officials asked him to seek outpatient counseling and monitoring with the Professional Resource Network, but he failed to do so, according to the report.

Rodriguez could not be reached for comment. He's entitled to a hearing before a final decision on the case is rendered. A hearing has not been scheduled.

News article in full: http://tinyurl.com/4yranqg

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Miami psychiatrist's license suspended for drug use

The license of Evan Zimmer, a Miami psychiatrist who's had previous legal problems involving prostitutes and drug abuse, was suspended by an emergency state order this week after he tested positive in July for cocaine and marijuana.

The Florida Department of Health order noted that Zimmer, 60, "has a significant history of substance abuse" and "an inability to practice medicine with reasonable skill and safety."

Read more:

http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/08/19/2366708/miami-psychiatrists-license-suspended.html#ixzz1VZ9zryDG


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

ADHD video

Pretty much says it all.


Parental Control Act

Congressman Ron Paul has re-introduced The Parental Consent Act, a bill which prohibits federal funds from being used to establish or implement any universal or mandatory mental health, psychiatric, or socioemotional screening program.

The Parental Consent Act 2011 (H.R. 2769 – previously H.R. 2218 in 2009) prohibits federal education funds from being used to pay any local educational agency or other instrument of government that uses the refusal of a parent or legal guardian to provide consent to mental health screening as the basis of a charge of child abuse, child neglect, medical neglect, or education neglect until the agency or instrument demonstrates that it is no longer using such refusal as a basis of such charge.

Click here to read more

"Difficulty playing quietly" -- the ADHD fraud


ADHD—Labeling normal kids “mentally ill”
Click here to watch video

ADHD is a bogus mental “disorder” based only on a checklist of behaviors. There are no medical tests to prove any child has ADHD, yet more than 4.5 million kids have been diagnosed and put on drugs such as Ritalin, Adderall and Concerta, which the U.S. DEA places in the same highly addictive category of drugs as cocaine, morphine and opium. According to the Center for Disease Control, boys are much more likely to be diagnosed “ADHD” than girls.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Prozac for pets? Give me a break

Now Fido can have the same violent and psychotic breaks from SSRIs as humans.

The FDA has approved a reformulated version of the much-prescribed SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) Prozac, but this one is just for dogs. Reconcile was created to treat canine separation anxiety. It is a once-daily, chewable, dog-treat-flavored drug that is supposed to be used “in conjunction with a behavior modification plan.”

Now this is getting insane.

Please support the new Citizen Petition to the FDA


Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Psychiatric Labeling

"Confirmation bias" is a term used to describe the tendency for people to favor information that confirms their preconceptions regardless of whether the information is true.

As a result, people may gather evidence and recall information from memory selectively, and interpret it in a biased way.

A recent paper ("Confirmation bias: why psychiatrists stick to wrong preliminary diagnoses", published 5/20/11 in Cambridge Journals Online) studied this phenomenon to find out whether psychiatrists and medical students are prone to confirmation bias, and whether this leads to poor diagnostic accuracy in psychiatry.

The results were revealing. After having made a preliminary diagnosis, it was common for the study participants to stick to this diagnosis, right or wrong, when presented with new information that could potentially change the diagnosis. Participants making a wrong diagnosis also prescribed different treatment options compared with participants choosing the correct diagnosis.

The paper concludes, "Confirmatory information search harbors the risk of wrong diagnostic decisions."

Now, couple this built-in bias with a blatantly fraudulent psychiatric diagnostic manual, and we get diagnostic mayhem and treatment nightmares.

The DSM IV (The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, volume 4) is the current version of the psychiatrist's billing bible from which they must draw their diagnoses in order to collect insurance payments.

Using the DSM, a psychiatrist labels the patient with a "mental disorder", prescribes him a drug, and bills the patient's insurance. The psychiatrist with the DSM in hand can try various labels on the patient until he finds one that either fits the patient's symptoms or comes close enough to allow him to bill the patient's insurance.

As the diagnoses completely lack scientific criteria, anyone can be labeled mentally ill, and subjected to dangerous and life threatening "treatments" based solely on opinion.

Fraudulent diagnoses, harmful treatments, confirmation bias, and bogus labels = psychiatry's own psychosis, labeling everything a mental illness.

Monday, August 01, 2011

The Chantix Fraud

A study published July 4, 2011 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal concluded that smokers who take Chantix, a smoking cessation drug, could increase their risk of heart problems.

The study found that there are "safety concerns about the potential for an increased risk of serious adverse cardiovascular events associated with the use of varenicline among tobacco users."

The heart problems are the latest in a growing list of concerns raised by patient reports, lawsuits and studies since the drug's approval in 2006.

The drug could cause changes in behavior, hostility, agitation, depressed mood, suicidal thoughts or actions, according to its warning label. Chantix carries a boxed warning -- the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's most restrictive safety labeling -- because of the risk of psychological events.

Chantix has been banned by the Federal Aviation Administration for pilots and air-traffic controllers because it may cause loss of consciousness and blackouts. Truck and bus drivers are also not allowed to take the drug.

Among all this is the apparently deliberate attempt to mislead the public regarding the true nature of Pfizer's Chantix. What are they not saying?

Guess what? Chantix is an addictive benzodiazepine-based psychotropic anti-anxiety drug.

That's a mouthful.

Just don't put it in your mouth.

It might just stop you from smoking - permanently.

Click here for more information about the side effects of psychiatric drugs.


Friday, July 29, 2011

Forest Labs' CEO Faces Exile

The Forest Laboratories CEO, Howard Solomon, who built his company's fortune on the antidepressants Celexa and Lexapro, faces exile from the health-care industry.

On Apr. 12, Solomon learned that the Office of Inspector General (OIG) which handles the U.S. Health and Human Services Department's efforts to fight waste and fraud in government health programs, is considering "excluding" him. Technically, this means exclusion from doing business with federal health programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and the Veterans Affairs Department. Functionally, it means a ban from the entire health-care industry.

Forest's troubles began in 2001, when Joseph Piacentile, a non-practicing physician in N.J., filed an action alleging that Forest was providing kickbacks to doctors who prescribed Celexa. In 2003, Christopher Gobble, a salesman who had been fired in 2002 by Forest Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary, filed a whistleblower suit in federal court in Boston alleging that the company was illegally pushing doctors to prescribe its antidepressants to children.

In September 2010, more than seven years after Gobble filed his suit, Forest Pharmaceuticals pleaded guilty to three criminal charges and settled civil claims filed by the Justice Department with a $313 million fine. Forest admitted it obstructed the FDA by concealing information, distributed an unapproved thyroid drug, and illegally promoted Celexa for use by children and adolescents.

In March, Lewis Morris, chief counsel to the inspector general, testified to Congress that "we are concerned that the providers that engage in health-care fraud may consider civil penalties and criminal fines a cost of doing business" and said that the government is forced to allow major pharmaceutical makers that have been convicted of crimes and have paid millions in fines to continue to participate in health-care programs because of the "potential patient harm that could result from an exclusion" of an entire company.

Hence, the move currently under consideration by the OIG to hold the CEO accountable by excluding him personally from participating in federal health programs, and thus forcing him out of the company.

Read the full article in the July 18 Bloomberg Businessweek.

Celexa and Lexapro manufactured by Forest are addictive and harmful psychotropic drugs prescribed for fraudulent mental disorders. There are no physical tests or scientific evidence to substantiate the theory that a chemical imbalance in the brain causes depression or any mental disorder. SSRI's such as Celexa and Lexapro are no more effective than placebo, and can cause violence and suicide.

Click here for more information about the side effects of these drugs.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

funding for health care

Costs of Health Care

An article in The Economist (25 June 2011, "Mass observation") discussing the 2006 health care reform legislation in Massachusetts, and on which the current federal health care legislation was based in part, makes the point that, although the percent of those lacking health insurance in Massachusetts dropped from 6.4% to 1.9%, the costs of health care and health care insurance have increased, and according to The Economist these costs are "unsustainable."

Costs for MassHealth rose 40% between 2006 and 2010, and costs for the subsidized health program for adults was 32% more than expected in 2008 and 11% more than expected in 2009. Also, uninsured hospital visits in 2010 were 14% above the level in 2009. Insurance premiums rose 12% between 2006 and 2008.

There are so many ifs, ands and buts about these figures that it is hard to make generalizations. However, one thing we can say for sure is that there is a general unwillingness to acknowledge and confront the contribution of fraud to the rising costs of health care and health care insurance, in particular the amount of patient abuse and fraud in the mental health industry.

Mental health practitioners perpetrate more fraud than any other sector of medicine. The U.S. loses about $100 billion to health care fraud each year, and up to $40 billion of this is due to fraudulent practices in the mental health industry.

The mental health monopoly has practically zero accountability and zero liability for its failures. This has allowed psychiatrists and psychologists to commit far more than just financial fraud. The roster of crimes committed by these "professionals" ranges from fraud, drug offenses, rape and sexual abuse to child molestation, assault, manslaughter and murder.

With mental health care insurance coverage being mandated in the U.S. through state and federal legislation, levels of fraud and abuse can be expected to continue to escalate, in spite of health care reform legislation.

What is the alternative? Provide funding and insurance coverage only for proven, workable treatments that verifiably and dramatically improve or cure mental health problems.

For more information download and read the CCHR booklet, "Massive Fraud — Psychiatry's Corrupt Industry — Report and recommendations on the criminal mental health monopoly."

Friday, July 01, 2011

Florida psychiatrist pleads guilty to massive Medicare fraud

 

http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2011/June/11-crm-871.html

 

Department of Justice

Office of Public Affairs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Miami-Area Psychiatrist Pleads Guilty for Role in $200 Million Medicare Fraud Scheme

 

WASHINGTON - A Miami-area psychiatrist pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Miami for his part in a fraud scheme that resulted in the submission of more than $200 million in fraudulent claims to Medicare, the Department of Justice, FBI and Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced.

 

Dr. Alan Gumer, 64, of Tamarac, Fla., pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud.   Gumer was charged on Feb. 15, 2011, with one count of conspiracy to commit health care fraud and four counts of health care fraud.

 

According to court documents, Gumer was a psychiatrist at American Therapeutic Corporation (ATC), a Florida corporation headquartered in Miami.   ATC purported to operate partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) in seven different locations throughout South Florida and Orlando.  A PHP is a form of intensive treatment for severe mental illness.

 

Gumer admitted that he signed evaluations, notes and other documents in medical files for patients who did not need the treatment for which ATC billed Medicare.   Specifically, as a psychiatrist, Gumer knew that the patients attending ATC did not need intensive mental health treatment, and that the treatments offered by ATC were not the type of intensive treatments a PHP should provide.   Gumer admitted that he signed these files without examining the patients, or writing and reading the statements he was signing.   Gumer also admitted to writing prescriptions for psychiatric medications for patients who did not need them in order to make it appear to Medicare that the patients qualified for PHP treatment.   According to court documents, Gumer also referred hundreds of ATC patients to a related company, the American Sleep Institute (ASI), for unnecessary diagnostic sleep disorder testing.

 

According to court filings, Gumer’s co-defendants and ATC’s owners and operators paid kickbacks to owners and operators of assisted living facilities (ALFs) and halfway houses and to patient brokers in exchange for delivering ineligible patients to ATC and ASI.  In some cases, the patients received a portion of those kickbacks.  Throughout the course of the ATC and ASI conspiracy, millions of dollars in kickbacks were paid in exchange for Medicare beneficiaries, who did not qualify for PHP services, to attend treatment programs that were not legitimate PHP programs so that ATC and ASI could bill Medicare for more than $200 million in medically unnecessary services.

 

According to the plea agreement, Gumer’s participation in the fraud resulted in $19.3 million in fraudulent billing to the Medicare program.   Sentencing for Gumer is scheduled for Jan 19, 2012.  Gumer faces a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. 

 

ATC, its management company Medlink Professional Management Group Inc., and the owners and lead manager of ATC, Medlink and ASI, were charged with various health care fraud, money laundering and other offenses in a separate superseding indictment unsealed on Feb. 15, 2011.   Two of the three owners and the lead manager, as well as both ATC and Medlink, have pleaded guilty and have admitted to the fraudulent scheme and that more than $200 million in billings were submitted to the Medicare program as a part of the scheme.   They are scheduled for sentencing on Sept. 14, 2011, by U.S. District Court Judge James Lawrence King.   The trial of the third owner charged in the separate superseding indictment is scheduled to begin on Aug. 15, 2011.  

 

The remaining 17 co-defendants named in the indictment in which Gumer was charged are scheduled to stand trial on Nov. 7, 2011, before U.S. District Judge Patricia A. Seitz.

 

An indictment is merely an accusation and defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law.

         

Today’s guilty plea was announced by Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; U.S. Attorney Wifredo A. Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida; John V. Gillies, Special Agent-in-Charge of the FBI’s Miami field office; and Special Agent-in-Charge Christopher Dennis of the HHS Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), Office of Investigations Miami office. 

         

The criminal case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Jennifer L. Saulino of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section.  The case was investigated by the FBI and HHS-OIG and was brought as part of the Medicare Fraud Strike Force, supervised by the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.

         

Since its inception in March 2007, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force operations in nine locations have charged more than 1,000 defendants that collectively have billed the Medicare program for more than $2.3 billion.  In addition, HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, working in conjunction with the HHS-OIG are taking steps to increase accountability and decrease the presence of fraudulent providers.

         

To learn more about the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), go to:  www.stopmedicarefraud.gov

 

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The illusions of Psychiatry -- great article

            The Illusions of Psychiatry

by Marcia Angell in the New York Review of Books

This is a seriously great article exposing all the inner workings of psychiatry's billing bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), including the complete lack of medical legitimacy for psychiatric diagnoses, the birth of the psychiatric-pharmaceutical alliance to push DSM disorders off on an unsuspecting public, and the funding behind psychiatrists and their front groups pushing the brain based "disease" model which they all know is bogus.

"Unlike the conditions treated in most other branches of medicine, there are no objective signs or tests for mental illness—no lab data or MRI findings—and the boundaries between normal and abnormal are often unclear. That makes it possible to expand diagnostic boundaries or even create new diagnoses, in ways that would be impossible, say, in a field like cardiology. And drug companies have every interest in inducing psychiatrists to do just that."

Read the full article here:

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2011/jul/14/illusions-of-psychiatry/

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Expand Investigation of Psychiatrists

 

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/opinion/editorials/check-up-on-djj-doctors-1565866.html?cxtype=rss_editorials

 

Check up on DJJ doctors

The Palm Beach Post

June 27, 2011

 

Anyone with an Internet connection can go online and see that Dr. Gold Smith Dorval is on probation with the Florida Board of Medicine and that his medical license was suspended because he stole money from Medicaid. Why, then, did the Department of Juvenile Justice allow him to treat children in state custody and prescribe powerful drugs for them?

 

DJJ's inspector general should expand her already ongoing investigation into the department's use of antipsychotic medications to answer that question. DJJ Secretary Wansley Walters ordered the inquiry after The Palm Beach Post reported that children in DJJ care are being prescribed heavy doses of the drugs.

 

A follow-up investigation by The Post's Michael LaForgia showed that several of the psychiatrists doing the prescribing have troubled pasts that, by law, should bar them from working for the agency.

 

"We will look," Ms. Walters said in an earlier interview, "at everything that surrounds this issue."

 

Certainly, the qualifications of the doctors employed by the agency falls into that category. As The Post reported, some psychiatrists working for DJJ were cited for overprescribing drugs that led to patient deaths. A simple background check can reveal much about a doctor's history. Even though DJJ requires such checks, in the case of Dr. Dorval and others, no one bothered.

 

DJJ does not have a system for tracking the medications taken by children in its care and has no way of knowing whether they actually need the prescriptions or if some of the doctors are drugging the kids simply to make them easier to control. When the doctor is someone like Charles Dack of Lakeland, who was disciplined for overprescribing drugs to a woman until she overdosed and died yet worked for DJJ until April, it's easy to suspect the latter. And that's unacceptable.

 

DJJ spokesman C.J. Drake said some doctors, such as Dr. Dorval, work for the agency through a third-party company. Those agencies should be required to prove that they have conducted background checks on all the doctors in their employ. Earlier this month, Georgetown University's Center for Juvenile Justice Reform announced that Florida is one of four states selected to participate in its Juvenile Justice System Improvement Project. "The fact that Florida stepped up and applied," said Shay Bilchik, founder and director of the center, "is a reflection of how seriously they take their responsibility."

 

The seriousness with which the agency addresses this issue will be an even better reflection of its commitment to reform.

 

- Rhonda Swan,

for The Palm Beach Post Editorial Board

 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Loser psychs treat kids in state custody

 

Sohail Punjwani                      Gold Dorval

Cocaine Possession                 Grand Theft

 http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/state/dosed-in-juvie-jail-troubled-doctors-hired-to-1549240.html

 

 

Dosed in juvie jail: Troubled doctors hired to treat kids in state custody

Palm Beach Post

By Michael LaForgia

Sunday, June 19, 2011

 

By the time Florida started paying Dr. Gold Smith Dorval to counsel and medicate jailed children, the Pembroke Pines psychiatrist already had experience with kids in state custody.

 

He had used them, authorities said, to bilk the government out of money for the poor.

 

When Dorval pleaded no contest to a felony grand theft charge, it should have barred him, by law, from working for Florida's Department of Juvenile Justice.

 

It didn't.

 

And, like Dorval, other doctors have emerged from past troubles and gotten jobs at DJJ - with authority to prescribe drugs to kids in state jails, a Palm Beach Post investigation has found.

 

Some psychiatrists took DJJ jobs after they were cited for breaking the law, making grave medical missteps or violating state rules. Others were hired after they were accused of overmedicating patients, sometimes fatally.

 

All were empowered to prescribe drugs to jailed kids as powerful antipsychotic pills flowed freely into Florida's homes for wayward children.

 

"It's appalling. A psychiatrist is a psychiatrist. They're licensed, they've been to medical school, and there is a certain trust placed in that person's judgment when they tell you that this child needs to be medicated," said John Walsh, an attorney with the Palm Beach County Legal Aid Society who has represented children in juvenile court. "This just illustrates that we always have to be on guard with children."

 

To read Full Article, click here: http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/state/dosed-in-juvie-jail-troubled-doctors-hired-to-1549240.html

 

 

 

Monday, June 13, 2011

America's Most Dangerous Pill? Klonopin

What is America's most dangerous prescription drug? It's not Adderall or Oxy. It's Klonopin. And doctors are doling it out like candy, causing a surge of hellish withdrawals, overdoses and deaths.

 

Klonopin is the brand name for the generic clonazepam, which was originally brought to market in 1975 as a medication for epileptic seizures. Since then, Klonopin, along with the other drugs in this class, has become a prescription of choice for drug abusers from Hollywood to Wall Street. In the process, these substances have also earned the dubious distinction of being second only to opioid painkillers like OxyContin as our nation's most widely abused class of drug.

 

Klonopin is used as an anti-anxiety drug, in the class of drugs that are also called minor tranquilizers, benzodiazepines or sedative hypnotics. Daily use of these drugs is associated with physical dependence, and addiction can occur after only 14 days of regular use. The typical consequences of withdrawal are anxiety, depression, sweating, cramps, nausea, psychotic reactions and seizures. There is also a "rebound effect" where the individual experiences even worse symptoms than they started with as a result of chemical dependency.

 

Alcoholics and drug addicts are most likely to run into Klonopin during detox, when it is used to prevent seizures and control the symptoms of acute withdrawal. Klonopin takes longer to metabolize and passes through the system more slowly than other benzodiazepines, so in theory you don't need to take it so frequently. But if you like the high it gives you, and  keep increasing your dosage, the addictive effects of the drug accumulate quickly and can often be devastating. The drug's label clearly specifies that it is "recommended" only for short-term use—say, seven to 10 days—but once exposed to the pill's seductive side-effects, many patients come back for more. And not surprisingly, many doctors are happy to refill prescriptions to meet this consumer demand.

 

Read much more about this at

http://www.cchrint.org/2011/06/02/americas-most-dangerous-pill-klonopin/

and find out more about psychiatric drug side effects at

http://www.cchrstl.org/sideeffects.shtml.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Creating juvenile zombies, Florida-style

 

http://www.miamiherald.com/2011/05/28/2240617/creating.html

 

Miami Herald

Creating juvenile zombies, Florida-style

May 28, 2011

By Fred Grimm

They're children of the new Florida ethic. Zombie kids warehoused on the cheap in the state's juvenile lock-ups. Kept quiet, manageable and addled senseless by great dollops of anti-psychotic drugs.


A relatively small percentage of young inmates pumped full of pills actually suffer from the serious psychiatric disorders that the FDA allows to be treated by these powerful drugs. But adult doses of anti-psychotic drugs have a tranquilizing effect on teenage prisoners. Prescribing anti-psychotics for so many rowdy kids may be a reckless medical practice, but in an era of budget cuts and staffing shortages, it makes for smart economics.

Florida fairly inundates juvenile offenders with this stuff.


The Palm Beach Post reported last week that the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice has been buying twice as many doses of the powerful anti-psychotic Seroquel as it does ibuprofen. As if the state anticipated more outbreaks of schizophrenia than headaches or minor muscle pain.

 

State Hired Psychiatrists Paid by Drug Companies

A list of the pharma paid Department of Juvenile Justice psychiatrists: http://www2.palmbeachpost.com/news/juvidrugs/index2.html

 

List of Florida psychiatrists with their number of Medicaid prescriptions for psych drugs for all ages:

http://www2.palmbeachpost.com/news/juvidrugs/index.html?cbResetParam=1

 

 

Palm Beach Post

Dosed in juvie jail: Drug firms pay state-hired doctors

By Michael LaForgia

Monday May 23, 2011

In Florida's juvenile jails, psychiatrists entrusted with diagnosing and prescribing drugs for wayward children have taken huge speaker fees from drug makers - companies that profit handsomely when doctors put kids on antipsychotic pills.

The psychiatrists were hired by a state juvenile justice system that has plied kids with heavy doses of the powerful medications, and the physicians have prescribed anti­psychotics even before they were approved by federal regulators as safe for children.

One in three of the psychiatrists who have contracted with the state Department of Juvenile Justice in the past five years has taken speaker fees or gifts from companies that make antipsychotic medications, a Palm Beach Post investigation has found.

In two years, the four top paid doctors combined to accept more than $190,000 - all while working for DJJ. Three of the four psychiatrists still are seeing patients in state jails and residential programs.

In at least one case, the number of Medicaid prescriptions a psychiatrist wrote for children rose sharply around the time he was paid, The Post found.

"That's very, very scary," said Jude Ann Prisco, a Palm Beach County mother whose child took psychiatric drugs while recently locked in a program. She said it never occurred to her that DJJ doctors might take money from drug companies. "I'm very upset by that, and I think they need to get some new guidelines."

Responding to The Post's findings, newly appointed DJJ Secretary Wansley Walters recently ordered a sweeping investigation into how antipsychotics are used in state jails and programs for kids. She declined to comment further, however, citing the probe.

DJJ doctors took payments as powerful antipsychotics flowed into state jails and homes. Child advocates say the widespread use of these drugs amounts to a policy of controlling children through "chemical restraint."

"This is a serious, legitimate and possibly life-threatening issue that requires investigation, reformation and possibly prosecution," said Circuit Judge Ronald Alvarez, who has sat on the juvenile court bench in Palm Beach County for 12 years.

DJJ relies heavily on the judgment of its contract doctors: In state juvenile jails and residential programs, the psychiatrists ultimately decide whether children should get medication - and which drugs kids should take.

Florida doesn't have disclosure laws

Doctors prescribed heavy doses of antipsychotic drugs for children in DJJ custody even before the drugs were deemed safe for kids.

Seroquel, for example, wasn't approved for kids until late 2009. Between mid-2006 and mid-2008, DJJ bought at least 217,563 tablets of Seroquel for children in the department's custody.

The state has no rules requiring drug companies to disclose payments to doctors. DJJ has no policy requiring contracted doctors to disclose conflicts of interest. In overhauling health care last year, Congress enacted a measure that requires all drug companies to disclose payments and gifts to doctors. However, that part of the law won't take effect until 2013.

DJJ doesn't track prescriptions going into its jails and programs. The rationale behind the department's system is that doctors, with help from nurses and other program staff, always prescribe drugs appropriately.

"The idea was, if kids did not have a medical need for psychotropic medication, then there wouldn't be any purpose in giving (antipsychotics) to them," said DJJ spokeswoman Samadhi Jones.

Last Tuesday, six days before this story was published, DJJ's chief medical director, Lisa Johnson, took the unusual step of issuing a strongly worded memo to DJJ's contracted and state-employed doctors.

The note, among other things, cautioned psychiatrists against prescribing anti­psychotics and other drugs for reasons that aren't approved by the federal government, except in extreme cases. It also reminded doctors that they aren't to use the drugs "as a means of punishment, discipline, coercion, restraint or retaliation."

'Quid pro quos' violate anti-kickback laws

The topic of doctors taking payments from pharmaceutical companies has become increasingly controversial in the past four years, after the federal government accused some companies of paying illegal kickbacks to physicians.

The subject takes on a new dimension when it involves doctors who care for children in state custody, said Eric Campbell, a professor at Harvard University who researches medical conflicts of interest.

"In my eyes, the role of government is to ensure that people who are left in our care, who are vulnerable and need help, actually get that help," Campbell said. "And potentially exposing them to inappropriate prescriptions, when the benefit of those goes to the individual physician, I see as especially problematic."

In general, if doctors prescribe drugs in exchange for payments from pharmaceutical companies, the quid-pro-quo arrangement violates state and federal anti-kickback laws, said Ryan Stumphauzer, a former federal prosecutor and founding member of South Florida's Medicare Fraud Strike Force.

Stumphauzer, who now is in private practice in Miami, added that The Post appears to have unearthed "some truly stunning and troubling data."

Firms: Doctors provide valuable service

Drug companies' practice of compensating doctors is perfectly legal so long as it's not an effort to influence prescribing, said Bruce Reinhart, a former federal prosecutor now in private practice in West Palm Beach.

"A drug company can give free samples, for example, or a doctor can go to a seminar, if the purpose of doing that is education," Reinhart said.

A spokeswoman for AstraZeneca, which makes Seroquel, said the company views payments as "appropriate and ethical" compensation for professionals who provide valuable services.

"Physicians who speak about our products are compensated at a fair market value based on the physician's qualifications and the amount of time required to provide the service," Stephanie Andrzejewski said. "Patients ultimately benefit when physicians are well informed and knowledgeable about our medicines, treatment options and standards of care."

Prescriptions rise with payments

AstraZeneca was one drug company that paid Dr. Umesh Mhatre after he started working for DJJ. Pfizer, maker of the antipsychotic Geodon, was another.

In 2010, Mhatre, who is board-certified in psychiatry and child psychiatry and based in Lake City, took $65,475 in payments and gifts, including $63,250 in speaker fees.

Records show Mhatre billed Medicaid for more antipsychotics for children during a period in which he was taking tens of thousands of dollars in payments.

The psychiatrist began working in St. Augustine in 2009 at the St. Johns Juvenile Correctional Facility, a secured program where children aren't eligible for Medicaid, and the St. Johns Youth Academy, a non-­secured program where Medicaid can pay for kids' prescriptions.

During his first 15 months seeing DJJ patients at the St. Augustine homes, Mhatre billed Medicaid, on average, for about 254 prescriptions every three months for antipsychotics that went to children.

In the first six months of 2010, Mhatre took $39,000 in speaker fees from AstraZeneca, and then, months later, accepted another $13,100, records show. He also accepted more than $15,000 in speaker fees and to cover meals and travel from Pfizer between mid-2009 and the end of 2010.

Between April and June 2010, Mhatre wrote 328 children's prescriptions for antipsychotics in three months, or 35 percent more of those scrips than he had billed Medicaid for, on average, in three-month spans over the preceding 2½ years.

Medical experts cautioned against drawing conclusions from Mhatre's prescribing, saying a number of variables might have been at work.

For instance, he might have seen more patients in the spring of 2010 than he did in previous months: Mhatre's patient rolls weren't available. Speaking through a receptionist at his office, Mhatre declined to comment for this story. He continues to see patients for DJJ.

Fat speaker fees, free meals and travel

Mhatre is one of 17 current or former DJJ psychiatrists who, in two years, took a total of $253,982 in speaker fees or free meals and travel. Many doctors took payments or gifts valued at less than $300. A few, like Dr. Rex Birkmire, took much more.

Birkmire, an Oviedo-based psychiatrist who is board-certified in psychiatry and forensic psychiatry, has accepted nearly $129,000 from makers of antipsychotics since mid-2009. He took at least $70,750 in payments for educational programs around the time he worked at the Orange Regional Juvenile Detention Center.

After he started at DJJ, Birkmire billed Medicaid for dramatically fewer children's prescriptions for antipsychotics than he had in previous months. He evaluated patients in a secured juvenile jail, where DJJ, not Medicaid, pays for drugs for children.

Birkmire didn't respond to phone and e-mail messages seeking comment.

Taxpayers pay for prescriptions

Many of the drugs prescribed to children in DJJ custody are paid for with taxpayer dollars.

DJJ buys drugs given to kids in its jails and state-operated residential programs. But psychiatrists can bill Medicaid or private insurance for drugs prescribed to children in non-secured homes operated by private contractors.

Medicaid billing records don't identify patients who receive prescriptions, making it impossible to tell how many, if any, of the scrips were written for children in DJJ custody. What the records do offer, however, is a window into the prescribing habits of doctors who have worked for DJJ.

Take Mhatre, for example. In the run-up to his working for the department, he billed Medicaid for more mental health drugs than other doctors did. In 21 months, Mhatre wrote at least 24,771 prescriptions for mental health drugs, including antipsychotics, for both children and adults. That breaks down to 42 scrips per day, seven days a week, for 84 weeks straight.

In all, 52 psychiatrists who have worked for DJJ combined to bill Medicaid for at least 175,247 prescriptions for psychiatric medications in 21 months, a span that ended in March 2009. The doctors who took payments, a group that numbered 17, accounted for more than half of all those prescriptions, records show.

Big drug firms go to court

Pharmaceutical companies began disclosing payments to doctors in 2009. The move was related in part to lawsuits that alleged the drug makers were paying illegal kickbacks to physicians who prescribed pills liberally.

In April 2010, for example, AstraZeneca paid $520 million to settle the federal government's allegations that the company paid kickbacks to doctors who promoted Seroquel for off-label uses, among other claims.

When it comes to money for DJJ doctors, AstraZeneca and other companies said the payments weren't meant to influence prescribing.

"AstraZeneca never pays physicians in exchange for prescribing our medicines or as an incentive to promote our products," Andrzejewski, the company spokeswoman, said in a statement. "Further, we have policies in place to ensure that our payments to physicians do not create conflicts of interest or otherwise influence the decisions these physicians make in treating patients."

Some doctors paid by drug companies work hard preparing talks and crafting slides, and they can earn less than their hourly rate when delivering them, said Dr. Robert Hendren, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco.

In other cases, Hendren said, companies seem to have sought out speakers based on prescribing patterns. "I think that, in some of those ways, there probably is undue influence," Hendren said. "I think people are influenced by who pays them. I think there's no doubt about that."

Needed transparency for payments

Unlike other states, including California, Massachusetts and Minnesota, Florida lacks rules requiring drug makers to disclose payments to doctors licensed by the state.

Such measures would create needed transparency, medical ethicists said.

"I think it's because we worry that paying and marketing and advertising and detailing can shape behavior," said Arthur Caplan, director of the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Bioethics. "I don't think that's a hypothetical, because we know that they do."

Even better, said Campbell, the Harvard professor, would be if Florida government medical contractors refused all offers of money from drug companies.

"Physicians who care for patients who are vulnerable populations need to be particularly above reproach when it comes to this behavior," Campbell said. "I personally believe it's completely inappropriate for physicians to moonlight as drug reps. You either sell drugs or you practice medicine. But you can't do both."