The Bitter Pill

The Official Blog of UNITE – uniteforlife.org

Suicide Prevention Drug Pushing Racket – Part I

Evelyn Pringle August 6, 2010

Nearly every year, as part of the suicide prevention drug pushing racket, drug company shills publish a bogus study with claims that more people are dying from suicide due to a black box warning of an increased risk of suicide in young people on the labels of SSRI and SNRI antidepressants.

Although the FDA did announce that the black box warnings, for children under 18, would be added to antidepressants in October 2004, the warnings were not on the labels until the spring of 2005. The extended warnings, to include young persons through age 24, were not added until mid-2007.

This year’s bogus study was announced on June 2, 2009, with a WebMD headline asking: “Are Antidepressant Warnings Causing Harm?” The study titled, “Persisting Decline in Depression Treatment After FDA Warnings,” was published in the “Archives of General Psychiatry,” with claims that there has been a drastic drop in the diagnosis of depression in both children and adults.

“Policy actions are required to counter the unintended consequences of reduced depression treatment,” the authors wrote in the study.

Prescriptions written for antidepressants also have dropped significantly, and these “unintended” consequences of the FDA’s warnings are continuing, the junk science co-author of the study, Robert Valuck, PhD, of the University of Colorado Denver’s School of Medicine, told WebMD.

On June 16, 2009, Science Daily ran the headline: “FDA Warnings Led To Unintended Changes In Depression Diagnosis,” and noted that the researchers report “unrestricted investigator-initiated research grants from Eli Lilly and Company, Forest Pharmaceuticals, Lundbeck and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.”

According to his online CV, Robert Valuck has been a consultant to Eli Lilly, maker of the antidepressants, Prozac, Cymbalta, and Sybyax, since 2005, and has done “Medical-legal consulting” for various firms since 2004.

The CV lists a grant to Valuck from Eli Lilly for $249,417 in 2006, to study the, “Effect of the FDA Black Box Warning (Antidepressants and Suicidality) on Patterns of Depression Care in the U.S. Managed Care Population.”

The disclosure section for a study titled, “Spillover Effects on Treatment of Adult Depression in Primary Care After FDA Advisory on Risk of Pediatric Suicidality With SSRIs,” in the August, 2007, “American Journal of Psychiatry,” reported that the lead author, “Dr. Valuck also is an advisory board member for Eli Lilly.”

The study was supported by an “investigator-initiated grant from Eli Lilly and Company to fund the access fees to the independent PharMetrics database and salary support for the investigators,” the disclosure section states.

“The purpose of this study is to evaluate the impact of the FDA advisories on patterns of care for adults with depression,” the authors noted in the study.

“Time-series analyses of patterns of treatment of adult depression in the community showed statistically and clinically significant spillover effects associated with the 2003 FDA public health advisory and related warnings about a risk of suicidality in pediatric patients treated with antidepressants,” they reported in the discussion section.

“After these pediatric warnings were issued, diagnoses of adult depression declined, and among adults diagnosed with depression, antidepressant use declined, with no other treatment modalities increasing to compensate,” the authors claimed.

“The present findings underscore the need for careful consideration of unintended consequences of warnings about drug safety concerns by regulatory agencies and pose challenges for protecting patients while offering efficacious treatments,” the researchers concluded, with the standard talking point of “unintended consequences.”

Valuck’s CV also shows another grant proposal was submitted to Lilly with a proposed budget of $413,154, for the funding period of January 2008 through December 2008, to study: “Antidepressant Drug Exposure and Risk of Suicide Attempt: A Focus on Newer Agents.”

In 2007, Valuck received a “Distinguished Investigator Award,” from the “American Foundation for Suicide Prevention,” the Big Pharma front group that serves as a funnel for drug company money in the suicide prevention drug pushing racket.

On the AFSP ‘s website, under “Projects Currently Underway,” Valuck is listed as receiving a $100,000 grant to study the “Impact of Antidepressant Discontinuation on Risk of Suicide Attempt.”

In late 2007, Emory University announced that Dr Charles Nemeroff was elected president of the Foundation and would start serving a 3-year term in January 2008.
Emory’s press release reported that Nemeroff had served on the national board of directors of the AFSP since 1999 and had “been a member of the Foundation’s Scientific Council for more than 10 years and was named chair of the Council in 2007.”

In roughly the same time period, an investigation led by Senator Charles Grassley, for the US Senate Finance Committee, found that Nemeroff had earned more than $2.8 million from drug companies between 2000 and 2007, but had failed to report at least $1.2 million on disclosure forms with Emory.

In 2008, the AFSP merged with the Suicide Prevention Action Network USA (SPAN), according to a November 6, 2008 press release by the groups.

Eli Lilly’s grant report for 2008, shows the AFSP received three grants worth $78,000, and SPAN received one $10,000 grant and another for $70,000. Pfizer gave the AFSP $3,000 in 2008.

Lilly’s grant report for 2007, shows the AFSP got $25,000, and SPAN received $10,000 in one quarter, and $70,000 in another.

Back in 2004, the spring issue of SPAN’s Network News reports that: “Network News is funded by a grant from the Eli Lilly and Company Foundation.”

The Newsletter also announced further funding from the Lilly Foundation. “SPAN USA’s efforts to develop and expand its suicide survivor network received a major boost with a recent grant from Eli Lilly and Company Foundation,” it said. “The foundation generously provided funding to support training, education and collaborative opportunities for SPAN USA’s existing network and enable further expansion into all 50 states.”

The 2006 Spring Network News announced the “Friend for Life” fundraiser sponsors. The industry’s trade group, PhRMA and Forest Pharmaceuticals donated over $15,000. Pfizer gave between $10,000 and $14,999. Solvay Pharmaceuticals was listed as giving between $6,000 and $9,999, and companies that gave between $2,000 and $5,999, were AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals and Bristol-Myers Squibb. Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly and Novartis each donated between $500 and $1,999.

At the end of the donor list, the newsletter stated: “Our continued gratitude goes to those who renewed their commitment from previous Friend for Life fundraisers (as indicated above by an asterisk).” Those companies included Pfizer, Bristol-Myers, Eli Lilly and Novartis.

A September 9, 2006 press release ran the headline: “SPAN USA Kicks Off National Suicide Prevention Week With Memorial March for Suicide Prevention”
Among the sponsors who offered “generous support” for this event were Eli Lilly and Forest Pharmaceuticals.

Three months later, the headline for a December 13, 2006, SPAN press release stated: “Leading Suicide Prevention Researcher Testifies against “Black Box” Notice for Antidepressants at FDA Hearing”

“Warns of Potential Tragedy for Those Discouraged from Treatment Option,” the byline read.

The AFSP’s 2008 Annual Report shows a grant of $100,000 from the Lilly Foundation. It also lists grants of between $50,000 and $99,999, from antidepressant makers, Lilly, Pfizer and Weyth, between $25,000 and $49,999 from Forest Labs, and between $10,000 and $24,000 from Solvay.

Lilly’s first quarter grant report for 2009, shows the AFSP received $69,250, and another $25,000 went to SPAN.

No drop in antidepressant prescribing

There was no drop in antidepressant prescribing in the US over the past five years. In 2008, there were 164.2 million prescriptions dispensed, compared to 143 million in 2004, according to a March, 2009, report by IMS Health, a healthcare information company.

The number of prescriptions dispensed has risen every year since 2004, with 143.9 million in 2005, 153.5 million in 2006, and 160.2 million dispensed in 2007, according to IMS.

For the year 2007, on June 20, 2008, CNN Money reported that, “for the sixth year in a row, anti-depressants ranked as the No. 1 class of dispensed prescriptions in the United States.”

The revenues from antidepressants have declined from $11.2 billion in 2004, to $9.6 billion in 2008, but only because competing generic versions are marketed at much lower prices.

Due to the loss in profitability of marketing the off-patent antidepressants, the extremely expensive atypical antipsychotics are now heavily marketed to treat depression. In 2008, they replaced antidepressants as the number one revenue producers in the US.

In fact, there was no decline in the prescribing of any psychiatric drugs in the US over the past five years. In 2004, overall sales of psychiatric drugs in the US totaled $26.7 billion, according to NDC Health Corp, a health information firm.

Four years later, the makers of psychiatric drugs had overall US sales of $40.3 billion in 2008, with $14.6 billion from antipsychotics, $9.6 billion in antidepressants, $11.3 billion from antiseizure drugs and $4.8 billion in sales of ADHD drugs, according to IMS Health.

On April 22, 2009, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality reported that in 2006, more money was spent on treating mental disorders in children aged 0 to 17 than for any other medical condition, with a total of $8.9 billion. By comparison, the cost of treating trauma-related disorders, including fractures, sprains, burns, and other physical injuries from accidents or violence was only $6.1 billion.

Written for Natural News

Filed under: 'ADHD', 2009, AFSP, anticonvulsants, antipsychotics, APA, FDA, front groups, KOL, Natural News, SPAN, SSRIs, suicide

Suicide Prevention Drug Pushing Racket – Part II

Evelyn Pringle August 21, 2009

A recent study in the April 2009, Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety journal found no change in the suicide rate in teens as a result of the regulatory ban in the UK on the use of SSRI antidepressants with children under 18, which did result in a drastic reduction in SSRI use among kids.

“Anti-depressant use in under 18 year olds halved after the warnings,” Pulse Today reported on April 24, 2009.

The research team from the University of Bristol concluded that “there was no evidence of an overall effect on suicides of regulatory action to restrict prescribing of SSRIs to young people.”

Lead researcher, Dr Benedict Wheeler, told Pulse: “We found no clear evidence of a beneficial effect on population suicide rates. However, and equally importantly, we did not find evidence of an adverse effect on suicide rates either.”

“This is important, because many mental health workers and researchers have been concerned that reduced antidepressant prescribing to children might inadvertently lead to an increase in suicides,” he said.

Athough “the rate of suicide among 15 to 19 year olds fluctuated to varying degrees in the 22 countries analysed between 1990 and 2006, there was ‘no consistent change’ in the rate of suicide after the restrictions came into place in 2003,” Pulse reported.

A year and a half ago, Medscape reported that a study found the drop in SSRI prescribing in the UK did not lead to a spike in youth suicides on February 21, 2008. The study, also led by Dr Wheeler, was published online February 14, 2008, in the BJM. The researchers set out to evaluate the impact of changing patterns of antidepressant use on suicide or self-harm in young people in the UK, following 2003 regulatory action.

“These data for England do not indicate that reductions in antidepressant use have led to an increase in suicidal behavior,” the group wrote.

“The findings are important, in that reduced access to antidepressants in young people in the United Kingdom following regulatory intervention appears not to have had an adverse impact on suicide deaths or hospital admissions for deliberate self-harm,” Dr Wheeler told Medscape.

Continuing adherence to regulatory guidance on prescribing antidepressants to young people is supported by this evidence, he added.

In a related time trend study also published online February 14, 2008 in the BMJ, Lucy Biddle, PhD, and colleagues at the University of Bristol reported that the rate of death by suicide in young men in England and Wales was the lowest it had been in 30 years.

To investigate overall suicide trends, the researchers reviewed data from 1968 to 2005 for men and women aged 15 to 34, and found suicide rates in young men aged 15 to 24 and 25 to 34, peaked in 1990 and 1998, respectively, and then showed a steady decline. In 2005, suicide rates for men in these age groups were the lowest they had been since the mid-1970s.

The researchers reported that suicide rates in young women were also at the lowest level they had been in many years and they did not find any temporal correlation between the changes in antidepressant prescribing rates and changes in suicide rates.

On February 15, 2008, a researcher in both studies, Professor David Gunnell, noted in a BBC News report that concerns about the dangers of reducing antidepressant use in children, who might therefore be at an increased risk of committing suicide, had been raised by US research.

“There’s been a greater fall in antidepressant prescribing in the UK but we have seen none of the potentially alarming upturn in suicides,” he said.

In the Medscape report, Dr Wheeler pointed out that his findings differed from those of Robert Gibbons and colleagues, who reported in the September 2007, “American Journal of Psychiatry,” that mortality rates for suicides in 5- to 19-year-olds in the US increased in 2004, following regulatory action.

In a Newsweek article titled “Trouble in a ‘Black Box’”, Gibbons went so far as to say: “I think the FDA has made a very serious mistake. It should lift its black-box warning because all it’s doing is killing kids.”

“You may induce two suicides by treatment, but by stopping treatment you’re going to lose dozens to hundreds of kids. You’re losing more than you’re saving. That’s the calculus,” said Dr Robert Valuck, of the University of Colorado Heath Sciences Center, in the Newsweek article.

In the Medscape report, Dr Wheeler noted that “critiques” of the Gibbons study in “Letters to the Editor” in the Journal, suggested that the US situation might not actually differ that much from the study findings in UK.

In fact, in one such letter, the respected British Columbia researcher, Jon Jureidini, said the Gibbons study “incorrectly analyzed the relationship between U.S. selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) prescription rates and suicide rates among children.”

The Gibbons study claimed there was a correlation between a 22% decrease in SSRI prescriptions and a 14% increase in youth suicide rates between 2003 and 2004, after warnings were issued by the FDA.

“As it turns out,” Dr Jureidini wrote, “preliminary figures are now available from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), which show that fewer people under age 25 committed suicide in 2005 (when prescribing did decrease) than in 2004.”

“In the year in which suicide rates rose sharply,” he said, “there was no significant drop in SSRI prescribing.”

When broken down into separate age groups, government statistics for 2005, show the number of suicides was lower for all young people in the US, on the website of the National Center for Injury and Prevention and Control.

For children aged 5 to 14, there were only 270 in 2005, compared to 285 suicides in 2004. In the age group of 15 to 24, the number of suicides dropped to 4,139 in 2005, from 4,316 in 2004.

The statistics show that overall, when children are combined in the age group of one through eighteen, suicides fell from 1,471 in 2004, down to 1,408 in 2005. In 2006, the latest year posted, there were only 1,296 suicides in this age group.

On July 24, 2008, Pharmalot’s Ed Silverman reported on data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality that showed antidepressant prescriptions rose in 2005. “The increase amounted to roughly 10 percent, and that occurred in a year in which new and controversial Black Box warnings were added to the labeling,” he wrote.

A survey of doctor and hospital visits in 2005, by the CDC, found the most commonly prescribed drugs were antidepressants, with 48% of the prescriptions written by primary care physicians.

Yet, as recently as January 30, 2009, in a Medscape Continuing Medical Education seminar, sponsored by Lexapro and Celexa maker, Forest Labs, Robert Gibbons was still saying: “we have seen in 2004 and 2005, the years for which CDC [Centers for Disease Control] has available data on youth suicide rates, the largest increases in youth suicide rates in history since they initially were monitored,” in citing his own discredited study.

“There have been significant decreases in the prescriptions overall of antidepressants to children and adolescents,” Gibbons said “And that has spilled over to the young adult and middle-aged adult range as well.”

The disclosure section for the seminar shows Gibbons has served as an expert witness for Zoloft maker, Pfizer, and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, maker of the antidepressants, Effexor and Pristiq.

Gibbons is a Professor of Biostatistics and Psychiatry and Director of the Center for Health Statistics at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine, according to his bio on the Department of Psychiatry’s webpage.

In 2007, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and Paxil maker, GlaxoSmithKline, donated between $10,000 and $24,000, to UIC College of Medicine, according to the Spring 2008 “UIC Medicine,” newsletter. Zoloft peddler, Pfizer, donated between $50,000 and $99,000.

A co-author on the Gibbons study was Dr John Mann, a former president of the AFSP, and a professor of psychiatry at Columbia University.

Columbia University’s 2007 Annual Report shows donations of between $100,000 and $499,000 from the AFSP, GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer Incorporated and Pfizer International. The Pfizer Foundation gave $1 million or more.

The report also shows gifts of between $50,000 to $99,999 from Wyeth, the GlaxoSmithKline Foundation, Eli Lilly and Company, and the Eli Lilly Foundation.
Mann has served as a paid expert witness for antidepressant makers Pfizer and Glaxo. He testified in the only Paxil suicide-homicide case ever to make it to a jury.

During his testimony, Houston attorney, Andy Vickery, brought out the fact that Mann had received more than $30 million in research funding from drug companies over the previous decade.

Mann admitted during cross-examination that he had written in three articles that there was possibly a small, subpopulation of patients vulnerable to suicide or violence under the drug, Vickery told Lawyers Weekly.

On June 6, 2001, the jury ruled against the drug maker and found that Paxil “can cause some people to become homicidal and/or suicidal,” and awarded the plaintiffs over $6 million.

In nearly all the studies and papers published over the years that claim SSRIs work with children and do not cause suicide, the same academic quacks appear as investigators and co-authors. The list of names includes, but is not limited to, Joseph Biederman, David Brent, Jeffrey Bridge, David Dunner, Graham Emslie, Daniel Geller, Robert Gibbons, Frederick Goodwin, Martin Keller, Andrew Leon, Anne Libby, John Mann, John March, Charles Nemeroff, John Rush, Neal Ryan, David Shaffer, Karen Wagner and Robert Valuck.

Many of the same names also appear on the ever-growing list of so-called “Key Opinion Leaders,” who have been exposed in an investigation by the US Senate Finance Committee, under the leadership of Senator Charles Grassley, as not disclosing Big Pharma money, which thus far includes, Harvard’s Biederman, Thomas Spencer and Timothy Wilens; Nemeroff and Zachary Stowe from Emory; Melissa DelBello at the University of Cincinnati; Stanford University’s Alan Schatzberg, president of the American Psychiatric Association; Keller at Brown University; Wagner and Rush from the University of Texas; and Goodwin, the former host of a radio show called “Infinite Minds.”

Graham Emslie’s earnings from antidepressant makers were highlighted in the media last year due to his role in the “Texas Children’s Medication Algorithm Project.” Emslie was chairman of the panel that issued guidelines in 1998, instructing doctors to prescribe SSRIs off-label to children for depression.

On August 18, 2008, the Dallas Morning News ran the headline: “Conflict of interest fears halt children’s mental health project.”

“A state mental health plan naming the preferred psychiatric drugs for children has been quietly put on hold over fears drug companies may have given researchers consulting contracts, speakers fees or other perks to help get their products on the list,” the News reported.

Emslie “has made at least $130,000 in drug company speakers fees and consulting contracts since 2002,” the paper noted, citing University disclosure forms. Co-authors on guidelines of the “Texas Children’s Medication Algorithm Project,” include Karen Wagner, John Rush and Neil Ryan.

The SEC filings for Cypress Bioscience provide a good source for estimating the amount of money these “KOLs” are pulling in per year, from each separate company.
Keller and Nemeroff have served on the board of directors, the scientific advisory board, and as consultants for Cypress. Under their 2004 consulting agreements, the firm was required to pay $50,000 per year for services rendered up to and including “two days per fiscal quarter.” In addition, Cypress could request additional services at a rate of $5,000 per day.

Nemeroff was paid $19,000 for additional services in 2003, and Keller made an extra $18,000. For serving on the scientific advisory board, Nemeroff was paid $19,000 and Keller earned $18,000, in 2003. As members of the board of directors in 2002, they each received $24,000.

A July 25, 2002, bio for Keller in the agenda for a Cypress annual meeting, shows he was also a consultant to, “Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, Forest Laboratories, Janssen, Merck, Inc, Organon, Otsuka Pharmacia/Upjohn, Pharmastar, Pfizer, Inc. and Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories.”

The bio also reports that Keller served on the scientific advisory boards of, “Bristol-Myers Squibb, Cephalon, Cyberonics, Inc., Eli Lilly, Forest Laboratories, Merck, Inc, Mitsubishi, Organon, Pfizer, Sepracor, Scirex, SmithKline Beecham, Somerse, Vela Pharmaceuticals and Wyeth-Ayerst.”

Suicide Victims on Antidepressants

In the first seven months of 2008, the “Evansville Courier & Press,” reported a near record number of 23 suicides in Vanderburgh County, Indiana. On August 11, 2008, the County’s chief deputy coroner, and a member of the local suicide prevention coalition, told the Courier that in the results of a preliminary investigation “one element” stood out: “In a majority of the cases investigated, the victim was on antidepressant medication. And none of the victims were in counseling.”

A study in the August, 2006, Archives of General Psychiatry, found children aged 6 to 18, who took antidepressants in an inpatient setting, were 52% more likely to attempt suicide in the 60 days following discharge than children who were not taking the drugs.

This study analyzed data from the national Medicaid Analytic Extract Files, including information from all 50 states, and determined that children who filled prescriptions for antidepressants after an inpatient stay were over 15 times more likely to die by suicide than kids who were not taking antidepressants.

On May 25, 2007, MedPage Today reported a study that found young suicide victims were significantly more likely to have SSRIs in their bloodstream than were young homicide or accident victims.

“In an analysis of ‘unnatural’ deaths recorded by the Virginia Medical Examiner’s Office for 1987 through 2003,” MedPage wrote, “Antony Fernandez, MD, and colleagues, found that selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or the serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor venlafaxine appeared significantly more often in post-mortem toxicology of suicides than of accident or murder victims.”

Studies show the SSRIs were passed out like candy to children during this time period. According to FDA estimates, in 2003, eleven million antidepressant prescriptions were written for under 19-year-olds, representing a 27% increase in 3 years.

Dr Thomas Moore, with the Drug Safety Research group, conducted a study of antidepressant use with kids during the 4-period of 1998 to 2001, and found the use of SSRIs with children doubled, and in 90% of the cases the drugs were prescribed off-label for uses not approved by the FDA.

For example, among boys 6 to 12-years-old, 52% of the prescriptions were written for attention deficit or conduct disorders, and typically, Dr Moore says, in combination with an antipsychotic or a stimulant.

There is “no scientific evidence that says that combination therapy is effective in these disorders and I know of no evidence that it is safe either,” he advises.

The study found that 17% of the children were taking drugs that were ineffective in clinical trials, and 42% were taking two or more antidepressant drugs. “So, what we are seeing is when drugs are ineffective, rather than abandoning them or trying alternatives, doctors increase the dose or combine the drugs in ways, the safety of which we are not aware,” Dr Moore warns.

Wyeth’s Effexor me-too drug, Pristiq, was approved for adults with depression in May 2008. By the end of 2008, the FDA’s adverse event reporting system showed 17 death reports for which Pristiq was listed as the primary suspect, including twelve completed suicides. Another 31 reports turned up with a search for “Suicidal Ideation.”

On July 17, 2009, a press release issued by “Wichita Family Examiner.com,” announced a “Child and Adolescent Depression Study in Wichita.” The Clinical Research Institute in Wichita, Kansas, is “looking for children from 7 to 12 years of age that are suffering with depression to participate in the trial of Pristiq,” the press release states.

“Pristiq is a FDA approved antidepressant,” the announcement states, without informing parents that the drug is not FDA approved for use by children under 18.
“Participants are compensated for their time up to $750,” according to the press release.

Suicides Skyrocket Among Young Men and Women in the Military

On July 23, 2009, the “Air Force Times,” reported that the US Senate has ordered “an independent study to determine whether an increase in military suicides could be the result of sending troops into combat while they are taking antidepressants or sleeping pills.”

Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-Md), who pushed for the study, said he does not know whether there is a link, but he believes prescription drug use, especially when it is not closely supervised by medical personnel, needs a closer look, the Times noted.

“One thing we should all be concerned about is that there are more and more of our soldiers who are using prescription antidepressant drugs … and we are not clear as to whether they are under appropriate medical supervision,” Cardin told the Times.

“Surveys … have shown that as many as 12 percent of those who are serving in Iraq and 17 percent of those who are serving in Afghanistan are using some form of prescribed antidepressant or sleeping pills,” he said. “That would equal 20,000 of our service members.”

“Death by suicide is at record levels in the armed services,” according to Dr Peter Breggin, one of the top experts on psychiatric drugs in the US.

“Simultaneously,” he says, “the use of antidepressant drugs is also at record levels.”

“The army confirms that since 2002 the number of suicide attempts has increased six-fold,” he notes. “And more than 128 soldiers killed themselves last year.”

The FDA requires antidepressant makers to list the following adverse effects on the labels of their drugs: “anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, aggressiveness, impulsivity … and mania.”

“We are giving our troops drugs that provide a prescription for uncontrolled, disinhibited violence, including agitation, irritability, impulsivity, hostility, and aggressiveness,” Dr Breggin points out.

“During Vietnam, a mere 1% our troops were taking prescribed psychiatric drugs,” he reports. “By contrast, in the past year one-third of marines in combat zones were taking psychiatric drugs.”

“Instead of shortening tours of duty, instead of temporarily removing stressed-out soldiers from combat zones, and instead of providing counseling–the new army policy is to drug the troops,” he notes.

In his latest book, “Medication Madness,” Dr Breggin describes dozens of cases in which peace-loving citizens became suicidal, violent and psychotic from taking antidepressants.

As of July 19, 2009, on the website, “SSRI Stories – Antidepressant Nightmares,” (http://www.ssristories.com), there were over 3,200 news stories, mainly criminal in nature, that have appeared in the media (newspapers, TV, scientific journals), or were part of testimony at FDA hearings on SSRIs in either 1991, 2004 or 2006, in which antidepressants are mentioned.

“Even these 3200+ documented stories only represent the tip of an iceberg since most stories do not make it into the media,” the website points out.
Drugs Drugs and More Drugs

From 1996 to 2006, prescriptions for psychiatric drugs in the US increased by 73% among adults and 50% with children, according to a study in the May/June 2009 issue of the journal “Health Affairs.”

Another study in the same issue, found spending for mental health care grew more than 30% over the same 10-year period, with almost all of the increase due to psychiatric drug costs.

According to the latest statistics from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the number of people treated for mental disorders increased from 19 million to 36 million between 1996 and 2006. “The overall treatment costs for mental disorders rose from $35 billion (in 2006 dollars) to nearly $58 billion, making it the costliest medical condition between 1996 and 2006,” Medical News Today reported on August 5, 2009.

The “National Survey on Drug Use and Health,” published by the Federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in December, 2008, reported that in 2007, 10.9 percent of adults aged 18 or older, or an estimated 24.3 million persons, had experienced serious psychological distress in the past year, and 44.6% had received mental health services in the past year.

Of those adults who received services, 87% were given prescription medication, and 34.6% received drugs only. In contrast, only 10.7% received outpatient treatment alone with no medication.

The successful peddling of the new generation of psychiatric drugs, evidenced in the ten year period above, was accomplished through a suicide prevention racket. However, in 1996 there were 30,903 suicides in the US, and in 2006, there were 33,292, according to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

Written for Natural News

Filed under: 2009, AFSP, antipsychotics, drugging children, front groups, KOL, Mann, military, Natural News, SSRIs, suicide, TMAP, veterans

Sex and Psych Drugs – Young Couples Beware

Evelyn Pringle June 2, 2009

Although the adverse effects of women taking psychiatric drugs while pregnant related to birth defects and infant withdrawal syndrome are often discussed or reported, the serious adverse effects on the sex lives and reproductive systems of millions of young couples are rarely mentioned.

Whatever the reason, due to the ever widening marketing campaigns by the psycho-pharmaceutical industry, young people need to be warned before they get conned into taking psychiatric drugs.

Sexual dysfunction, including lack of libido, orgasmic dysfunction and delayed ejaculation, are common side effects of using SSRI antidepressants, according to the May 2005 report, “The Marketing of Depression: The Prescribing of SSRI Antidepressants to Women,” by Dr Janet Currie. The report warns:

“There are concerns that not all sexual dysfunction may fully resolve after termination of treatment. Since SSRIs are prescribed more often for women, women are more frequently affected by SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction. Because SSRIs can also lead to a worsening of depression, paradoxical effects, emotional blunting or detachment, reduced emotional activity, memory loss and confusion, these effects, in conjunction with sexual dysfunction, can negatively affect intimate relationships.”

In 2006, Dr Antonei Csoka, from the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, at the University of Pittsburgh, and Dr Stuart Shipko, in private practice, in Pasadena, California published a paper titled, “Persistent Sexual Side Effects after SSRI Discontinuation,” in Psychotherapy & Psychosomatics.

The paper documented three cases of fairly severe and permanent sexual dysfunction resulting from prior use of SSRIs in two men and one women.

“These case studies have important clinical implications,” the authors note. “They suggest that when patients develop sexual dysfunction as a side effect of SSRIs, clinicians should be alert to the possibility that restoration of sexual function may not correlate temporally with medication cessation.”

In recent studies, “doctors have specifically asked about sexual difficulties, and found that they are present in up to 83% of patients,” the authors report.

“Patients are often willing to continue taking SSRIs despite sexual side effects, but the possibility of increasing the probability of dysfunction remaining after discontinuance should be taken into consideration,” they state. “Such persistent side effects could even worsen the long-term prognosis of depression.”

“I suspect that these three cases are just the tip of the iceberg and that possibly thousands of people are similarly affected,” Dr Csoka told this author in an email.

In July 2005, WebMD noted that sexual side effects can cause significant problems of their own. “For both men and women, this means being unable to initiate, participate fully in, or enjoy sex, and that can lead to a crippling loss of self-confidence that can, in turn, undermine depression recovery,” the article pointed out.

On the website, Prozac.com, under possible side effects of Prozac, “decreased sex drive” and “impotence” are listed. It also states Prozac “can cause changes in sexual desire and satisfaction.”

After five years of tracking Big Pharma’s disease mongering and off-label marketing schemes, I can say without a doubt that the sickest plot ever devised is the legislation moving through the US Senate right now referred to as the “Mothers Act,” for short.

This is the sickest of all marketing schemes because it is aimed at young couples in child bearing years and reaches into the cradle where the brains and bodies of the most vulnerable victims will be forcibly drugged through pregnant and nursing mothers without any voice of their own in the matter.

Although the language in the Act says postpartum conditions refers to “postpartum depression” and “postpartum psychosis,” the campaigns run through websites like Postpartum Support International, Postpartum Progress and PerinatalPro, are using the bill as a vehicle to diagnose pregnant and nursing mothers with a whole list of pregnancy related “mood” and “anxiety” disorders to further a new cottage industry in the works for treating these women.

For instance, one website is run by Karen Kleiman, who happens to have her own counseling agency called the “Postpartum Stress Center,” and quite a few books to sell. On this website you can even buy some books directly with paypal and bypass Amazon.

“The Postpartum Stress Center specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of prenatal and postpartum depression and anxiety disorders,” the homepage says.
Services offered at the Center include, “Screening for prenatal and postpartum depression and anxiety,” and “Psychiatric evaluation and follow-up.”

The postpartum websites continuously argue that the Act does not promote screening women, but the bill they tried to slip through Congress last year specifically called for screening women and referring them for services. The language in the 2008 bill stated: “To ensure that new mothers and their families are educated about postpartum depression, screened for symptoms, and provided with essential services, and to increase research at the National Institutes of Health on postpartum depression.”

The truth is, universal screening has always been the goal of this blatant off-label marketing scheme because no psychiatric drug has been FDA approved as safe for use by pregnant women and screening opens the door for drug treatment. The screening language was removed only after strong objections were raised about the prospect of requiring all women to be screened and referred to treatment.

The history of the attempts to pass this legislation clearly shows screening was the plan. For instance, Dr Katherine Wisner is professor of psychiatry, obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences and epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and her work in promoting screening as well as drug use by pregnant and nursing mothers is constantly cited on the postpartum websites.

In an editorial in the December 2006, Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr Wisner recommended “that the United States take steps to implement a universal screening program, in which all women are screened between two- and 12-weeks postpartum,” the University reported in a December 5, 2006 news release with the heading, “JAMA Editorial Notes Childbearing Presents Unique Vulnerability for Psychiatric Illness, Making Effective Screening, Education and Treatment Essential.”

“Those presenting with symptoms of a psychiatric disorder should be treated immediately after diagnosis,” Dr Wisner said in the University news release.

The Mothers Act is said to be modeled after a New Jersey law in the home state of the bill’s main sponsor, Senator Robert Menendez. “The State of New Jersey has been the first to address the problem on the governmental level by legislating that all women receive screening and education for postpartum depression; the law went into effect in October (2006),” the University pointed out.

Six months prior to the JAMA editorial calling for “universal screening” and “treating immediately,” on August 5, 2006, Medical News Today ran the headline: “Commonly Used Anti-depressants Safe And Effective For Treating Postpartum Depression,” for a study led by Dr Wisner published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology.

The researchers compared the tricyclic, nortriptyline, and Pfizer’s Zoloft, but there was no placebo group to see if the drugs worked any better than a sugar pill, which countless studies have shown they rarely if ever do.

“We’ve been treating postpartum depression based on the assumption that drugs that work for a woman with depression under usual circumstances will work for a woman who experiences depression after giving birth, but there have not been studies that provide scientific proof that this was an effective and safe course of treatment,” Dr Wisner told Medical News.

“Treating these women based on that assumption was simply not good enough, and we felt compelled to provide scientific evidence to guide postpartum depression treatment decisions,” she stated.

The disclosure by Medical News said Pfizer provided the Zoloft for the study but did not provide any direct financial support for the conduct of the study. It was noted that Dr Wisner is a member of Pfizer’s speaker’s bureau and has a grant from Pfizer for a study of ziprasidone (antipsychotic Geodon) pharmacokinetics during pregnancy, and is also a member of the speaker’s bureau for GlaxoSmithKline.

A 2005 paper in JAMA reported that Dr Wisner had received grant funding from Pfizer and “is a member of the speaker’s bureau for Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, and Shire.”
Dr Wisner is also “a distinguished fellow of the American Psychiatric Association,” the University website notes.

In a running list of Mothers Act supporters, the PerinatalPro website, which is actually another site run by the owner of a treatment center, Susan Stone, with a book for sale, lists the APA as endorsing the bill. This Big Pharma front group will probably go down in history as the most notorious disease mongering association of all time.

A prime example of disease mongering at its worst can be found in a May 21, 2008 headline by US News and World Reports stating: “Postpartum Depression Strikes New Fathers, Too,” with a story based on research presented at the APA’s annual meeting.

Ten percent of new fathers and 14% of new mothers are affected by depression, psychologist James Paulson, assistant professor of pediatrics at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, told US News.

“If untreated, a father’s postpartum depression can be harmful to the child as well as to both parents,” the article noted.

On May 8, 2008 WebMD reported that then APA President, Dr Nada Stotland, said first-time new dads are at greatest risk for postpartum depression and apparently the causes of this newly discovered mental disorder are as follows:

“The life changes for a new dad are enormous. Just thinking about the costs of raising the kid to 21, maybe for life, can be terrifying. And all the unspoken fears: Will my wife still be as interested in me? Will my baby be as cute as my brother’s baby?”, Stotland explained to WebMD.

Stotland has served on the speakers’ bureaus of Glaxo and Pfizer, according to Slate Magazine. In 2006, the pharmaceutical industry accounted for about 30% of the APA’s $62.5 million in financing, the July 12, 2008 New York Times reported.

Pfizer’s 2008 grant report shows donations of more than $700,000 to this “non-profit.” Lilly gave grants totaling more than $600,000 in both the first and second quarter of 2008. In 2007, the APA received over $400,000 from Lilly and another $450,000 went to the American Psychiatric Foundation.

Last summer, an investigation by the Senate Finance Committee, led by Iowa Senator Charles Grassley Senator accused the now president of the APA, Dr Alan Schatzberg of Stanford, of failing to disclose payments of over $70,000 from Johnson & Johnson and Lilly in filings with the University. The Senator also revealed Schatzberg’s stock ownership of millions of dollars in a company seeking to commercialize a depression drug. Schatzberg has since stepped down as chair of the psychiatry department at Emory.

On May 29, 2009, Katherine Stone wrote on the Postpartum Progress website: “The MOTHERS Act is not sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry.”

“Its only sponsors,” she said, “are the Senators (Menendez) and Representatives (Rush) who created it and brought it to a vote, thanks to the unending insistence of Carol Blocker, the mother of Melanie Blocker Stokes, who committed suicide while suffering from postpartum psychosis.”

“Its endorsers, I might point out, include the American College of Obstetricians & Gynecologists, the March of Dime, the National Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition, the Children’s Defense Fund and NOW,” she says, and also mentions a new one, the National Perinatal Foundation.

However, Katherine did not mention the main supporters listed on PerinatalPro, including the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, Mental Health America (MHA), National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, and the Suicide Prevention Action Network USA and the APA.

This sudden omission might have something to do with an article I wrote titled, “Just Say No to the Mothers Act,” in which I showed all the drug company money directly flowing to these front groups in great detail.

On June 2, 2009, Amy Philo, the leader of “Unite For Life,” a coalition of 50 groups against the Mothers Act, posted the dollar amounts funneled to these main supporters of the Act on her website, based on estimates from specific excerpts from the “Just Say No,” article, also posted on the site. The total she came up with was between $13,095,010 and $16,487,497.

The variation in the total amount resulted from the fact that front groups will often list how much companies give by wide margins For instance, the 2007 Annual Report for the Depression and Bipolar Alliance says the group received between $150,000 and $499,000 from AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Wyeth. Abbott, Cyberonics, Lilly, Forest, Glaxo, Organon, and Otsuka American Pharmaceuticals gave between $10,000 and $149,999.

The 2006 annual report for Mental Health America shows the group received over $1 million from Lilly, Bristol-Myers, and Wyeth in 2006. Pfizer and Janssen gave between $500,000 and $1,000,000, and AstraZeneca and Forest Labs donated between $100,000 and $499,000. Glaxo gave the group between $50,000 and $100,000.

As I have previously pointed out, Pfizer’s 2008 grant report shows a $20,000 grant to a Mental Health America group in Georgia to sponsor: “Project Healthy Moms: Education for Prevention/Treatment for Perinatal Depression Disorders.”

Next, I found a June 8, 2008 newsletter put out by the Georgia group that advertised Katherine Stone as the speaker for the lectures paid for by Pfizer. However, the Georgia group called the program: “Project Healthy Moms: What You Need To Know About Perinatal Mood Disorders.”

E-news said attendees of her presentation would learn in part: “One size does NOT fit all: Why postpartum depression is just part of a spectrum of mood disorders women may experience & what to look for.”

Without disclosing the large amount, e-news stated: “This special hour of learning is made possible by a grant from Pfizer.”

But in checking the Georgia group’s website yesterday, the ad there contained no mention of the fact that Pfizer paid the tab.

Pfizer markets drugs now commonly called “mood stablizers,” such as the anticonvulsants Lyrica and Neurontin, and the antipsychotic Geodon, 3 antidepressants including Zoloft, and Viagra, a big seller, likely due in part, to all the sexual side effects caused by psych drugs.

After Senator Grassley demanded an accounting, the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, the executive director, Michael Fitzpatrick, admitted that “pharmaceutical companies contributed an average of 56% of national NAMI’s budget annually for the period 2005 to 2009,” in an April 28, 2009 letter to NAMI leaders and members.

Amy’s total does not include money to the National Healthy Mothers Healthy Babies Coalition, which receives money from Wyeth, Glaxo, J&J, Merck, and Sanofi Pasteur.

The total amount funneled through the Suicide Prevention Action Network USA is not available because it recently merged with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and Pfizer and Lilly were the only drug companies with public disclosures of their grants to both groups.

Dr Charles Nemeroff, another disgraced shrink who recently stepped down as the chair of the department of psychiatry at Emory University after 17 years, took over the presidency of the Foundation for Suicide Prevention for a 3-year term in 2008. Nemeroff’s resignation came after Senator Grassley revealed that he had earned more than $2.8 million from drug companies between 2000 and 2007, but failed to disclose at least $1.2 million to Emory. Amy included this amount in the estimated total.

The list of members on councils and committees on the Foundation’s website includes Alan Lipschitz, MD, from Glaxo, Steven Romano, MD, of Pfizer, David Norton from Johnson & Johnson, and Cathryn Clary, MD of Pfizer, along with APA president, Alan Schatzberg, and Dr Frederick Goodwin, who had his radio show thrown off the air last fall after Senator Grassley revealed that he failed to tell listeners that he was receiving millions of dollars from drug companies.

The “Directors” of the Foundation include Pfizer’s Cathryn Clary, and Philip Ninan, MD of Wyeth Pharmaceuticals.

Katherine has herself listed online for hire on LinkedIn with a lead-off pitch that reads: “Talented, award-winning marketing and PR professional returning to the workforce after brief sabbatical as full-time mom.”

“Skills include experiential marketing concept development, brand positioning, marketing strategy, social networking, and public relations campaign development and execution,” she writes.

“Used break from full-time employment to become an expert at social media, creating most widely-read blog in the U.S. in her niche,” the summary says in obvious refererence to the Postpartum Progress site.

At the end, Katerine includes a paragraph on her days as an agent for the the public relations firm Cohn & Wolfe. This firm’s clients have included Lilly, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Another website with links to all the others, is run by Lauren Hale, the Postpartum Support International Georgia coordinator. Her site seems dedicated to minimizing any negative information that comes out about taking psych drugs while pregnant or harm to the fetus. Once a commentary or article is posted on her site, the other gals usually put up a link to it on theirs to get maximum exposure on the internet.

For instance, on April 29, Hale used her site to discount some of the top experts in the field quoted in the May 2009 Vogue article, “Pregnant Pause,” by Alexis Jetter, which stated: “With a flurry of recent reports challenging the safety of antidepressant drugs for unborn babies, doctors and concerned mothers-to-be are rethinking the guidelines.”

“What alarms doctors is the sheer number of pregnant women who use SSRI antidepressants – perhaps as many as 250,000 in the U.S. each year – when we still know so little about how the drugs effect babies,” Jetter reported.

“SSRI usage dramatically increases the chances that a baby may be miscarried, born prematurely or too small, suffer erratic heartbeats, and have trouble breathing,” she noted.

The rise to 250,000 appears to be quite a jump considering that back in the May 2005 Journal of the American Medical Association, researchers estimated that in any given year about 80,000 pregnant women in US were prescribed SSRIs.

In the article, Jetter quotes Dr Adam Urato as saying, “these antidepressants are portrayed almost like prenatal vitamins that will level out their mood and lead to a healthier baby. But antidepressants have not been shown to decrease rates of miscarriage or birth defects or low birth weight. On the contrary, they’ve been shown to increase those problems.”

Hale’s commentary was titled, “Thoughts on exploring a “Pregnancy Pause,” and she also sent it to Vogue. “I methodically refuted and balanced the article’s bias against medicating with anti-depressants during pregnancy,” she writes on her site.

On May 6, Karen Kleiman provided a link to “Thoughts” on her website and told readers, “Please take the time to read her very thoughtful and well-researched post.” The same day, Katherine also posted a link on Postpartum Progress with the headline, “Hale Responds to Vogue Piece on Antidepressants in Pregnancy.”

Not surprisingly, Hale specifically singled out the comments made by Dr Urato in the Vogue article. In 2006, Urato was responsible for exposing the fact that the financial ties of the authors to SSRI makers were not disclosed in a paper titled, “Relapse of Major Depression During Pregnancy in Women Who Maintain or Discontinue Antidepressant Treatment,” published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which led to major media coverage and a public admonition by the editor of JAMA reporting that seven authors had failed to reveal their financial ties to drug makers.

A letter from Urato was also published in JAMA, stating that being the study dealt in part with the question of stopping antidepressants during pregnancy, the readers should be aware of the potential for pro-drug bias.

The Wall Street Journal reported that, “the study and resulting television and newspaper reports of the research failed to note that most of the 13 authors are paid as consultants or lecturers by the makers of antidepressants,” and “the authors failed to disclose more than 60 different financial relationships with drug companies.”

Most of the authors, the Journal noted, were leading psychiatrists at Harvard’s Massachusetts General Hospital, Emory University, and the University of California Los Angeles.

The American Psychiatric Associations’s pumping up SSRI sales at their annual meeting via a new male diagnosis of PPD may cause problems for couples who want more children for more reasons than lack of interest in sex by one or both partners. On October 24, 2006, the Guardian reported that a study by doctors at the Cornell Medical Center found that two patients who had normal sperm counts and mobility before taking SSRIs had a severe deterioration of both when they began taking the antidepressants.

The doctors, who were treating the two men for infertility, found that when the men stopped taking the SSRIs, their fertility problems disappeared only to resume again when they went back on SSRIs.

The problem is believed to be caused by an adverse effect of SSRIs on both the concentration and swimming ability of sperm. The men were tested over a 2-year period and Dr Peter Schlegel, who presented the research at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine conference, in New Orleans, explained that:

“The patients had normal sperm counts and motility before medication. On the medication they have severe deterioration of both. The same patients going on and off medication had the same pattern. It shows a strong association.”

Impotence and delayed ejaculation are well-known side-effects of SSRIs but now Dr Schlegel says he believes the drugs may be preventing sperm from getting into semen.

“These were men with normal sperm counts that went to nearly zero when they were on these antidepressants but returned to normal when they were off them. It’s a dramatic effect and it’s never been described before,” he advised in the Guardian article.

“We believe that while it’s had a profound effect on these two men,” he said, “it could be having a significant but more subtle effect on many more men.”

Two years later, on September 24, 2008, Bloomberg News reported another study from Cornell University that found Paxil may impair fertility by damaging DNA in sperm.

The study of 35 healthy men who were given the antidepressant “found that the amount of damaged DNA in the men’s sperm rose to 30.3 percent after four weeks, from 13.8 percent,” the report noted.

“We suspect the other SSRIs would have similar effects,” Dr Schlegel told Bloomberg.

The treatment for all these “mood” and “anxiety” disorders women will be screened for as a result of the Mothers Act, includes not only antidepressants, but also drugs used as “mood stabilizers,” such as the antipsychotics Zyprexa, Seroquel, Risperdal, Invega, Geodon and Abilify, and antiseizure medications, along with benzodiazepines like Ativan and Xanax and sleeping pills such as Ambien or Lunesta.

In most cases patients are given combinations of different types of drugs at the same time. In fact, two different drug classes, Zyprexa and Prozac, are combined in Lilly’s Symbyax, and prescribed for “treatment resistant” depression. This one is a real money maker, selling at $1,564 for ninety 12-25mg capsules on DrugStore.com in May 2009.

For a simple diagnosis of “postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder,” after her first pregnancy, Katherine Stone took “Effexor, Celexa, Seroquel, Risperdal, Wellbutrin, Luvox, Cymbalta, and etc.,” according to a line in a story about the treatment she received on her website, which was removed after I wrote about it.

In a blog describing her treatment during her next pregnancy, where she admits she took Cymbalta throughout, Katherine identifies her shrink. “I saw my fabulous psychiatrist at Emory every month (Hi Dr. Newport!),” she writes.

That would be the Dr Jeffrey Newport at Emory University who has received research support from Lilly, Glaxo, Janssen, and Wyeth, and has served on speaker’s bureaus and/or received honoraria from AstraZeneca, Lilly, Glaxo, Pfizer, and Wyeth, according disclosures in the August 2007 study titled, “Atypical Antipsychotic Administration During Late Pregnancy: Placental Passage and Obstetrical Outcomes.”

Another author listed on this antipsychotic study is Charles Nemeroff.

On April 29, 2009, Philip Dawdy’s headline on the popular website Furious Seasons, read: “10 Percent Of Depressed Patients Now Take Antipsychotics,” based on statements made during a conference call by executives of Abilify maker Bristol-Myers Squibb.

“Forget about Prozac Nation, this is Atypical Nation,” he said. “Antipsychotics are now the top revenue producing class of drugs, topping even statins.

The labeling on Risperdal says Risperdal “can raise the blood levels of a hormone known as prolactin, causing a condition known as hyperprolactinemia. Blood levels of prolactin remain elevated with continued use.”

“Some side effects seen with these medications include the absence of a menstrual period; breasts producing milk; the development of breasts by males; and the inability to achieve an erection,” the label notes.

A Patient Fact Sheet by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, explains that, “Hyperprolactinemia is a condition in which too much prolactin is present in the blood of women who are not pregnant and in men.”

“In women, this results in a decline in the body’s production of progesterone after ovulation which, in turn, can lead to irregular ovulation and infrequent menstruation, cause you to stop menstruating altogether, or cause your breasts to start producing milk, a condition called galactorrhea,” it states.

“Men also can experience galactorrhea,” the Society says. “High prolactin levels in men can also lead to impotence, reduced libido, and infertility.”

A 2005 paper titled, “Medication-Induced Hyperprolactinemia,” from the Mayo Clinic reports that other classes of medications that cause hyperprolactinemia include antidepressants.

“The clinical consequences of hyperprolactinemia include galactorrhea and hypogonadotropic hypogonadism, the latter manifesting as oligomenorrhea or amenorrhea in women, erectile dysfunction in men, and loss of libido and infertility in both sexes,” the paper states.

A July 1, 2000 paper in the American Family Physician, by Dr Nancy Phillips, lists psychoactive medications that cause “disorders of desire” as antipsychotics, barbiturates, benzodiazepines, SSRIs, Lithium and Tricyclic antidepressants.

The list of drugs that cause “disorders of arousal” also includes benzodriazepines, SSRIs and Tricyclic antidepressants. These drugs, as well as antipsychotics and amphetamines (ADHD drugs) are reported to cause “orgasmic dysfunction” in the paper.

Purely to increase profits, people are encouraged to take psychiatric drugs for life and in some cases can never get off because the withdrawal syndrome is so severe.

It would be interesting see how many patients would be willing to begin a life-long treatment regimen if doctors were required to warn that it could mean the end of a normal sex life.

It would also be interesting to know how many patients are given the opportunity to check with their partners to see how long they will remain in a sexless relationship.

Correction: The article above mistakenly says that Alan Schatzberg stepped down as chair of the psychiatry department at Emory. He is at Stanford and he has not stepped down as chair of the psychiatry department. The statement should have been that Schatzberg of Stanford has “resigned his position as principal investigator on a federal research grant in response to the committee’s scrutiny,” the Stanford Daily reported.

Filed under: 'ADHD', 2009, AFSP, anticonvulsants, antipsychotics, APA, front groups, MHA, mothers act, NAMI, PPD, pregnant, sex, SSRIs

Mothers Act Promotes Pregnancy as New Cottage Industry

Evelyn Pringle December 5, 2008

Women of childbearing years represent the most lucrative market for the makers of psychiatric drugs. The knowledge that infants were being born with birth defects and suffering a withdrawal syndrome when these drugs were used during pregnancy was hidden for decades. Knowledge of these terrible risks would have caused a major drop in sales to this customer base.

Ever since the warnings about birth defects started trickling out a few years ago, the drug companies apparently have been plotting to find ways to reverse their negative impact. But the most sinister plot ever developed is a bill moving for approval in the US Senate right now called the “Melanie Blocker-Stokes Mother’s Act,” to set up the screening of all pregnant women for mental illness.

The bill is promoted under the ruse of screening for postpartum depression. But a true picture of the target population of this massive drug pushing scheme is evident in the propaganda submitted to support the passage of the original bill in the US House of Representatives and the programs already in place in various states.

The legislation was first introduced in the House in January 2007 by Illinois Democrat Bobby Rush. Under “Background and Need for Legislation,” House Report 110-375 states in part:

“Depression is twice as common in women as it is in men, with its peak incidence during the primary reproductive years–ages 25 to 45. Because women are more likely to experience depression during these years, they are especially vulnerable to developing depression during pregnancy and after childbirth.”

In February 2007, the “Postpartum Mood Disorders Prevention Act,” was introduced in Illinois. The orchestrated attempts to pass this bill included planting reports in the media with claims that pregnant women are at risk for a whole list of mental disorders. For instance, on March 1, 2007 an article in the Naperville Sun stated:

“New moms face increased risks for not only postpartum depression, but also bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety and other disorders, according to one of the largest studies of psychiatric illness after childbirth.”

The websites set up by the industry-backed front groups supporting the Mother’s Act have links to programs that claim new mothers need to be screened for “postpartum” depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, psychosis, anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, and eating disorders.

When extending the drug-net to all pregnant women, the groups omit the term “postpartum” and claim women need to be screened for “perinatal” (which means both before and following birth) disorders. In December 2007, Illinois enacted “The Perinatal Mental Health Disorders Prevention and Treatment Act,” with the stated purpose “to increase awareness and to promote early detection and treatment of perinatal depression.”

But here again, the mention of “depression” only is deceiving because the websites of hospitals in Illinois show they are screening for the entire gamut of disorders mentioned above. Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in Downers Grove offers “Perinatal Depression Support Services.”

“Any woman who is thinking about becoming pregnant, is pregnant, or had a baby within the past year can be affected by depression or other mood disorders,” their website says.

“Mental health screening under the guise of identifying individuals who are impaired from some supposed mental disturbance is typically simply another front for pharmaceutical marketing,” according to Dr Bose Revenel, co-author with psychologist John Rosemond of the new book, “The Diseasing of America’s Children.”

“Most are funded or the initiative is provided via pharmaceutical companies and medications are typically promoted as a supposed ‘solution,’” he says.

“The problem here is that, among other things, the drugs promoted have been shown to have potentially serious side effects and their effectiveness compared to placebo only trivial,” Dr Revenel reports.

“Furthermore,” he says, “the campaign ignores safe and potentially effective interventions such as dietary and nutritional changes and supplements as well as cognitive therapy – all of which are completely free of potential adverse effects, with effectiveness that rivals or exceeds that of the drugs.”

“If the screening only picked up women likely to benefit from treatment, then maybe it would be justified,” says Dr David Healy, a leading expert on psychiatric drugs from the UK and author of “The Creation of Psychopharmacology.”

“But screening will pick up a quarter or a third or more of all pregnant women and will lead to many of these being treated who do not need treatment,” he warns. “Over 25% of women might be diagnosed where very few of those are likely to need treatment.”

Although no psychotropic drug has FDA approval for use during pregnancy, the recommended treatment for all these so-called “disorders” consists of the newest most expensive antidepressants, antipsychotics, and anticonvulsants. The common practice is to prescribe three or four different drugs at a time for years on end.

The antipsychotics that will benefit as a result of the Mother’s Act include Seroquel by AstraZeneca, Risperdal marketed by Janssen, a division of Johnson & Johnson, Geodon by Pfizer, Abilify from Bristol-Myers Squibb, Novartis’ Clozaril, and Eli Lilly’s Zyprexa.

Lilly also sells two antidepressants, Prozac and Cymbalta, and Symbyax, a combination of Zyprexa and Prozac. The other SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) and SNRI (selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor) antidepressants include GlaxoSmithKline’s Paxil and Wellbutrin, Pfizer’s Zoloft, Celexa and Lexapro from Forest Labs, Luvox by Solvay, and Wyeth’s Effexor.

Pregnancy as a cottage industry

New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez is the lead sponsor of the Mother’s Act in the Senate. New Jersey is home to a long list of drug companies. The bill was first introduced in May 2007, but was stuck in committee until Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid introduced an $11 billion omnibus package called “Advancing America’s Priorities Act.” Senator Reid tried to get the Act passed on July 22, 2008 by slipping it in the omnibus, but failed.

The Act is supported by a drug-funded coalition bent on turning pregnancy into a cottage industry. On September 25, 2008, Susan Dowd Stone, a member of “Postpartum Support International (PSI),” self-described as the “bill’s lead organizational sponsor,” issued a Legislation Update, obviously to pump out propaganda through the internet.

“Hundreds of thousands of women across the country suffer at the hands of postpartum depression every year, and they deserve better than the ideological games being played with legislation intended to bring them relief,” Senator Menendez declares in the Update.

“This is a cause I am committed to seeing through, and I will continue to stand up on behalf of mothers suffering from this condition until the blockade is cleared,” he vows.

“We will again await its inevitable passage at the next Congressional session when reason may more strongly prevail,” Ms Stone writes in the Update.

A gal named Katherine Stone runs the “Postpartum Progress” blog, described as the “most widely-read blog in the United States on these illnesses.” She serves on PSI’s board of directors as the public relations outreach chairwoman.

Her blog provides links to the “Top Women’s PPMD Treatment Programs & Specialists.” Dr Shari Lusskin is listed as a “top” specialist. She is an advisory council member for PSI. On her website under “Pregnancy-related Mood Disorders,” the standard talking point about “pregnancy related mood disorders” being prevalent is restated as follows:

“Panic Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and Eating Disorders may also develop or worsen during pregnancy and postpartum. Women with Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, or Schizoaffective Disorder are particularly vulnerable during pregnancy and postpartum.”

A May 28, 2005 presentation brochure shows Dr Lusskin is a paid speaker for Glaxo, AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Wyeth.

The postpartum blogs are also used to sell books written by the “experts” and promote drug company funded conferences. For instance, on May 13, 2008, Postpartum Progress put out an ad for a June 25, 2008 conference at the University of Minnesota, titled, “Motherhood, Mood Disorders & Anxiety: Before & After Pregnancy.” The listed sponsors included AstraZeneca and the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI), the most notorious industry backed front group on the planet.

Eli Lilly is logically the top giver to NAMI and many other front groups because it has the most drugs to peddle. Several class action lawsuits currently filed against Lilly specifically allege that Lilly funneled money to NAMI to aid in the off-label marketing of Zyprexa.

Between 2003 and 2005, Lilly donated $3 million to NAMI, according to the May 28, 2006 Philadelphia Inquirer. Lilly’s disclosure records show NAMI groups received more than $700,000 from the company in the first quarter of 2008. NAMI’s 2007 Annual Report lists Abbott Labs, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers, Eli Lilly, Forest Labs, Glaxo, Janssen, Pfizer, Wyeth and Solvay as “Corporate Partners.”

The NAMI website reports that the “National Depression Screening Day” and the “Stop a Suicide Today” campaign are endorsed by the American Psychiatric Association and are conducted in partnership with the American Association of Suicidology, Suicide Prevention Action Network USA, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Suicide Prevention Resource Center, and Mental Health America.

In 2006, the pharmaceutical industry accounted for about 30% of the American Psychiatric Association’s $62.5 million in financing, according to the July 12, 2008 New York Times. Lilly’s first quarter grant report for 2007 shows Lilly provided the APA with two grants worth over $412,000. The Suicide Prevention Action Network received $10,000 from Lilly in the first quarter of 2007.

Mental Health America’s annual report shows the group received over $1 million from Bristol-Myers, Lilly and Wyeth in 2006. Janssen and Pfizer gave between $500,000 and $1,000,000, and AstraZeneca and Forest Labs donated between $100,000 and $499,000. Glaxo gave the group between $50,000 and $100,000 in 2006.

Other funding sources listed on the MHA website include three treatment centers for eating disorders with links to their websites. The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders estimates that the average cost of private inpatient treatment is $30,000 or more a month, according to an April 27, 2006 report by Women’s enews.

On May 21, 2008, the president of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (“DBSA”), Sue Bergeson, posted a message on Bipolarconnect.com, saying Illinois Senator Dick Durbin’s office had called to say they were having “a hard time making headway” with the Mother’s Act. She informed readers that “more than 800,000 women will develop a diagnosable postpartum mood disorder this year! And this number doesn’t include the 7.5% of women who will develop major depression during pregnancy.”

At the end of the article, Ms Bergeson provided a link and urged people to take “30 seconds” to send a letter to their Senators.

The 2006 Annual Report of DBSA shows AstraZeneca gave the group more than $500,000 in 2006. Companies that donated between $150,000 and $499,000 include Abbott, Bristol-Myers and Wyeth. Forest Labs, Glaxo, Janssen, Pfizer, and Shire Pharmaceuticals each gave between $10,000 and $149,000. Lilly is listed in the section titled, “Matching Gift Companies,” in the report.

Battle lines drawn

A number of influential advocacy groups have come out against the Act including the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology; Alliance for Human Research Protection; International Coalition For Drug Awareness; Law Project for Psychiatric Rights, Mindfreedom International, AbleChild, and the National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy.

The website, UniteForLife.org is run by Amy Philo, the Texas mother at the forefront of the “Unite for Life” campaign against the Act. Amy’s story provides a poster perfect example of what will happen to hundreds of thousands of women all over the county if the bill is passed.

Amy was labeled mentally ill and told she needed to be on drugs by a nurse making a home visit simply because she got very upset after watching her first-born infant almost choke to death a few days after he was born.

When she followed the nurse’s advice and went to the doctor, the Ob-Gyn would not even take two minutes to listen to Amy talk about what had happened or allow her to explain why she was experiencing such over-whelming fear and anxiety.

Instead of viewing this young mother’s reaction to the near-death of her infant as a normal response, the doctor told her she had a panic attack and sent her home with samples packets of the antidepressant, Zoloft, to prevent postpartum depression, apparently expecting her to get over her traumatic experience by taking a pill.

There were no warning labels on the samples and the doctor did not alert Amy to any of the potential side effects. “He told me Zoloft was perfectly safe for me and the baby and it would make my baby happy too,” she recalls.

Within three days, the Zoloft pushed Amy into a state where she started having thoughts of first killing her baby and later of killing her husband, her mother, herself and even her pets. When Amy confessed to having these thoughts, instead of recognizing the side effects of Zoloft and stopping the drug, the medical professionals upped the dose, locked her up in a mental ward away from her baby, and tried to add Zyprexa, to the mix.

They never told Amy why they wanted her to take Zyprexa, but the sheet they gave her said it was for schizophrenia, she recalls. Amy refused to take it because she wanted to nurse and was afraid the drug would harm the baby.

She finally lied her way out of the hospital by claiming she no longer had the bizarre thoughts because she wanted to be with her baby and family. But in reality, Amy battled the obsession with suicide and homicide for months waiting for Zoloft to work.

“The constant ideas of homicide were followed by thoughts of suicide to protect my son from me,” she says. “I never had thoughts like this in my life before I took Zoloft.”

They also tried to get Amy to take the sleeping pill, Ambien, the anti-anxiety drug, Klonopin, and Celexa, another antidepressant, even though she was nursing. “I always just said no to those,” Amy says.

The Ob-Gyn told Amy that she might have to remain on Zoloft for life and without the drug she was not in control enough to have more children. The pediatrician told her, “what’s really scary is that PPD seems to get worse each time and you have a 90% chance of getting it after your next baby,” she recalls.

She finally quit taking the Zoloft against medical advice and the obsessive thoughts of homicide and suicide stopped and never returned. Amy and her husband have since had a second child with no problem whatsoever without the Zoloft.

She recently obtained copies of her medical records, which show she was labeled with obsessive-compulsive disorder and major depression. Those stigmatizing labels will remain in her records forever with no acknowledgment that Zoloft caused the ordeal.

“Antidepressant-induced mania commonly results in a false diagnosis of a new disorder leading to stigmatization and a possible lifetime of unnecessary, harmful treatment with drugs,” says Dr Peter Breggin, author of the new book, “Medication Madness,” and the man often referred to as the “conscience of psychiatry.”

Drug companies have a big financial incentive to promote these drugs. According to DrugStore.com, a 30-day supply of 20 mg Zyprexa costs $725.93. A 30-day supply of 100 mg Zoloft is $104.84. Klonopin costs $65.93 for 30-days of 2 mg tablets. The price of a 30-day supply of 10 mg Ambien is $145.99, and 20 mg Celexa costs $96.99 for 30-days. Amy’s two-day stay in the mental ward cost her family’s insurance company about $8,000 and an $800 co-payment for Amy and her husband.

The assertion that all these sick women are going without treatment is absurd. More prescriptions are written for psychiatric drugs every year in this country than for antibiotics or diabetes medications. On June 30, 2008, CNN Money reported that, for the “sixth year in a row,” antidepressants were the number one class of drugs prescribed in the US in 2007. CNN cited a report by the pharmacy benefit manager, Medco Health Solutions, that said 16% of women ages 20-44 take antidepressants.

In 2007, the branded atypical antipsychotics generated $15.9 billion in manufacturer sales in the seven major global markets, with $12.3 billion of those sales in the US, according to an April 2008 report by Sandra Chow on the Decision Resources website.

Thousands of infants harmed

In a September 18, 2008 letter to members of Congress urging them to vote against the Mother’s Act, Unite For Life reported that the estimated number of antidepressant-caused infant deaths and injuries over the past four years, based on data from the FDA’s MedWatch, were: 4,360 babies born with serious or life-threatening birth defects; 4,160 babies born with potentially fatal heart defects or heart disease; 2,900 spontaneous abortions; and 3,000 premature births.

The so-called experts supporting the Mother’s Act constantly minimize the risks. However, a study titled, “Acute Neonatal Effects of Cocaine Exposure During Pregnancy,” in the September 2005 Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine describes adverse effects for cocaine exposed babies eerily similar to those in babies born to mothers taking antidepressants:

“Several central and autonomic nervous system findings, which included hypertonia, jitteriness or tremors, high-pitched cry, difficulty arousing, irritability, excessive suck, and hyperalertness, were noted more frequently on the initial physical examination in the cocaine-exposed cohort. During the hospitalization, the diagnoses of seizures and autonomic instability were more frequently noted in cocaine-exposed infants.”

The warnings and precautions section on current labeling for SSRIs and SNRIs contains the following statement:

Neonates exposed “late in the third trimester have developed complications requiring prolonged hospitalization, respiratory support, and tube feeding. … Reported clinical findings have included respiratory distress, cyanosis, apnea, seizures, temperature instability, feeding difficulty, vomiting, hypoglycemia, hypotonia, hypertonia, hyperreflexia, tremor, jitteriness, irritability, and constant crying. These features are consistent with either a direct toxic effect of SSRIs and SNRIs or, possibly, a drug discontinuation syndrome.”

Besides the agony endured by these infants and their families, the additional medical costs are enormous. In 2005, commercial insurers paid an average of $4,247 per day for babies in neonatal intensive care, according to Thomson Healthcare. Direct health care costs for a premature baby average $41,610 or 15 times higher than the $2,830 for a healthy, full-term delivery, a March of Dimes May 2007 report on Preterm Birth estimates.

Advocates of the Mother’s Act claim mental illness poses a greater risk to the mother than drug use to fetus. “The problem with this claim is that there is no consideration for the immense stress a mother has to endure when her baby is sick due to this drug use,” says Kate Gillespie, an attorney who handles birth defect litigation at the Los Angeles based Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman law firm.

“Not to mention the far greater stress that is created by having to constantly deal with life and death health issues, like severe heart defects and respiratory problems, such as persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn, caused by SSRI medication,” she notes.

Baum Hedlund is currently representing over 200 families whose babies were born with birth defects ranging from congenital heart defects to PPHN after the mothers used SSRIs.

(Written as part of the SSRI Litigation Round-Up, Sponsored by Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman’s Pharmaceutical Litigation Department http://www.baumhedlundlaw.com)

Filed under: 'ADHD', 2005, AFSP, anticonvulsants, antipsychotics, Baum, Birth Defects, DBSA, MHA, mothers act, NAMI, PPD, pregnant, prices, SSRIs

Tracking the American Epidemic of Mental Illness – Part IV

Evelyn Pringle June 22, 2010

Non-Profit Advocacy Groups

As a main component of the Psychopharmaceutical Industrial Complex, the so-called “patient advocacy” organizations have become the leading force behind the American epidemic of mental illness over the past two decades.

Drug makers, and their foundations, funnel millions of dollars to these non-profits every year. In return, the leaders recruit their members as foot soldiers to carry out the latest marketing campaigns and to provide a fire-wall so that no money trail can be tracked back to the drug companies.

Gigantic Pyramid

The psychiatric front groups form a gigantic pyramid and once pharmaceutical money enters the system through a major organization, it gets channeled into a huge spider-web that weaves through many groups, making it nearly impossible to keep track of where it came from or where it all went. Often, when the grant reports of the drug companies list a large donation to one organization, the annual reports of the other groups will show smaller gifts from that same organization.

The “charity” groups are exempt from income tax and the “contributions” funneled through them are tax deductible. The money is used for disease mongering campaigns to both market disorders and pressure public health care programs and private insurers to pay for expensive treatments.

“Presenting themselves as patient advocacy groups is highly disingenuous not only to their membership, many of which may have a sincere desire to help a loved one or a family member with mental problems, but to legislators, the press and the American public — for they have consistently lobbied for legislation that benefits the mental health and pharmaceutical industries which fund them, and not patients they claim to represent,” according to Citizens Commission on Human Rights International, a mental health watchdog group.

In a June 2, 2010, commentary titled, “Psychiatric Fads and Overdiagnosis,” on the Psychology Today website, Dr Allen Frances points out that it “is too bad that there is no advocacy group for normality that could effectively push back against all the forces aligned to expand the reach of mental disorders.”

The leaders of the supposedly “non-profits” earn outrageously high salaries, along with excellent benefit packages, while many of the patients they claim to represent are encouraged to seek federal disability payments of under $700 a month, and apply for public housing, food stamps, and Medicaid, to make ends meet. The top officials will often move from a leadership role in one organization to a higher position in another.

The drug makers rely on the front groups to do their bidding any time profits are threatened. For instance, if the FDA is considering adding a black box warning about a deadly side effect to a drug’s label, which may result in a drop in sales, representatives of front groups will show up at the FDA advisory panel hearings to testify against adding the warning.

They will also lobby FDA panels whenever there is a chance to increase profits, such as enlarging the drug customer base. In June 2009, the Psychopharmacologic Drugs Advisory Committee was set to meet to evaluate AstraZeneca’s Seroquel, Pfizer’s Geodon and Eli Lilly’s Zyprexa for use with 13 to 17 year-olds diagnosed with schizophrenia, and 10 to 17 year-olds diagnosed with pediatric bipolar disorder.

On June 8, 2009, nine front groups issued a joint statement urging the panel to vote to approve all three drugs for kids. The groups signing the letter included the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, American Psychiatric Association, Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation, Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, Families for Depression Awareness, Mental Health America, National Alliance on Mental Illness, and the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare.

“As advocates for people living with mental illnesses, we strongly urge the FDA to carefully consider the importance of viable treatment options for bipolar disorder and schizophrenia in pediatric and adolescent populations,” they wrote. “Access to safe and effective treatments, including more information about all treatment options, is crucial to treating these serious and complex conditions in children and adolescents.”

In an obvious attempt to downplay the serious side effects of the antipsychotics, the groups stated: “Other treatments for grave childhood illnesses such as cancer can cause hair loss, nausea, compromised immune systems and even death. However, few people question the necessity of these aggressive forms of treatment.”

“Like cancer,” they wrote, “aggressive treatment may be needed for some patients with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, diseases with a higher risk of death than some forms of cancer.”

The National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare only recently began showing up in public pharma campaigns with the other front groups. Last year it was listed as a supporter of one of the most evil customer recruitment schemes ever devised, targeting the roughly four million pregnant women who give birth in the US each year, through passage of federal legislation known as the “Mothers Act.”

On its website, the Council is described as “a non-profit association representing 1,300 mental health and addictions treatment and rehabilitation organizations.” But a review of the few grant reports available on drug companies found this non-profit received over a half a million dollars since 2008, from Eli Lilly and Wyeth alone.

Lilly’s grant reports shows a $440,000 donation in 2008, and another $25,000 grant in 2009. The Council also received $20,000 in 2008, and $10,000 in 2009, from Wyeth (now owned by Pfizer). For the first quarter of 2010, Lilly’s lists two grants to the Council totaling $90,000.

The front groups all have “experts” serving on advisory or scientific boards and committees from major universities and government agencies, who have financial relationships with drug makers of one kind or another. Some organizations even have drug company officials, often from marketing and sales departments, sitting on boards and committees. Many of the same people will serve in multiple groups within the pyramid.

For example, Dr Herbert Pardes, a former director of the NIMH, is president of the scientific board of the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD). He is also a past president of the American Psychiatric Association, and served as chairman of the APA’s Council on Research for several years. A bio on the internet says he is a regular advisor to the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), the Anxiety Disorders Association of American, and Mental Health America. He has also served on the board of TeenScreen and is a charter associate member of the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.

Collapse of the Pyramid?

For several years, with Iowa’s Republican Senator, Charles Grassley, leading the charge, the US Senate Finance Committee has been investigating pharmaceutical industry funding, as it relates to marketing practices, involving Continuing Medical Education, consulting arrangements, publications in medical journals, the non-profit professional and patient advocacy organizations, and the conflicts of interest among academics who receive federal funding from the National Institutes of Health through research grants to major universities.

The Committee oversees spending in public health care programs, such as Medicaid and Medicare, for coverage of more than 100 million Americans, including mental health treatment and prescription drugs.

The “drug industry’s most powerful means of boosting the bottom line is funding research, which allows companies to control, or at least influence, a great deal of what gets published in the medical journals, effectively turning supposedly objective science into a marketing tool,” Shannon Brownlee explained in an April, 2004, Washington Monthly report titled, “Doctors Without Borders.”

“By penetrating the wall that once existed around academic researchers,” she says, “drug companies have gained access to the “thought leaders” in medicine, the big names whose good opinion of an idea or a product carries enormous weight with other physicians.”

“Companies target academic KOLs, or Key Opinion Leaders, in the lexicon of marketing, and woo them with invitations to sit on scientific advisory committees, or to serve as members of speakers’ bureaus, which offer hefty fees for lending their prestige to a company and touting its products at scientific meetings and continuing medical education conferences,” she reports.

Grassley’s investigations at major universities turned up more conflicted academics in the field of psychiatry than in any other specialty. His chief investigator, Paul Thacker, developed a system where he would request conflict-of-interest records on psychiatrists from their universities and simultaneously ask drug companies to provide reports on what they paid the same researchers.

Some of the biggest names in the field appear on the list of psychiatrists who failed to disclose all their financial benefits from drug companies, which thus far includes three from Harvard, Joseph Biederman, Thomas Spencer and Timothy Wilens; Charles Nemeroff and Zachery Stowe from Emory; Melissa DelBello at the University of Cincinnati; Alan Schatzberg, outgoing president of the American Psychiatric Association, and chair of psychiatry at Stanford; Martin Keller, a former chair of psychiatry at Brown; Karen Wagner and Augustus John Rush from the University of Texas; and Fredrick Goodwin, of George Washington University, and also the host of a radio show called “Infinite Minds,” that was broadcast for years by National Pubic Radio.

All of the above “KOLs” have served as officials, or on boards and committees, of major front groups, and many have received awards, consulting and speakers fees, and research funding from various organizations.

Ensuing Outrage

The revelation that millions of dollars have been flowing from drug makers to academics in psychiatry, undetected for a decade, has drawn outrage and demands for more accountability in the entire field. “Financial transparency and full disclosure is not just an advocacy position anymore,” says anti-drugging proponent, Vince Boehm. “This is rapidly becoming the order of the day.”

“While the efforts of advocates were crucial in precipitating this amazing shift in public policy,” he says, “our efforts were unwittingly helped by the massive greed of our opponents and the public furor that ensued.”

“Events such as the Biederman scandal at Harvard and other equally disgusting problems of the same proportions have provoked public outrage,” he points out.

Back on June 18, 2008, Dr Bruce Levine, author of, “Surviving America’s Depression Epidemic,” issued a warning in an Alternet commentary. “If those physicians who are not drug-company shills want to save their profession they might want to start taking aggressive actions against their colleagues who are on the take,” he said.

“Perhaps it will help motivate clean physicians to be reminded that history shows that any institution — no matter how large and powerful — can arrogantly cross those lines leading to its demise,” he advised.

On the Health Care Renewal website, Dr Bernard Carroll, former head of Duke’s psychiatry department, says the leaders of the major professional and scientific organizations, like the American Psychiatric Association, the American College of Psychiatrists, the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology, and the Society of Biological Psychiatry, may not be stepping up to the plate publicly because “perhaps they are confounded by the awkward fact” that some of the exposed individuals “are current and past presidents of these very organizations.”

They may also be confounded by the “awkward fact,” that all the medical journals, textbooks and other literature put out by the so-called “professional” groups in the field of psychiatry are filled with ghostwritten infomercials, fraudulently crediting the shills on Grassley’s list as authors, with major universities following their names, and nothing short of a mass book burning event will erase all the false advertising.

About a year ago, Grassley asked eight leading medical journals to describe their policies and practices regarding ghostwriting as part of a “broader effort to establish transparency with regard to financial relationships between the pharmaceutical industry and medical professionals,” according to his July 2, 2009 press release.

In a June 16, 2010, letter to the editor of the Miami Herald, Dr John Nardo, a former faculty member in Emory’s Department of Psychiatry, alluded to this problem while complaining about the fact that the University of Miami has “hired a a chairman for the Department of Psychiatry, Dr. Charles Nemeroff, who has become the poster child for what’s wrong with academic medicine in our country.”

“Nemeroff was relieved of his chairmanship at Emory University in Atlanta for failing to disclose conflicts of interest in his publications and presentations,” he said. “That means that he was a well-paid frontman for a number of drug manufacturers.”

“Now it has been revealed that many of his articles were ghost-written by the drug companies and that he recommended a drug, Paxil, as safe for pregnant women when, in fact, it can cause congenital heart defects in newborns,” Nardo wrote.

“One has to wonder what the people at UM are thinking?” he said. “Or if they’re thinking at all?”

Nardo’s letter is related to the latest scandal, in the seemingly never-ending Charles Nemeroff saga, which now involves the Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, Thomas Insel, who apparently worked behind the scenes to help Nemeroff get hired at the University of Miami, after he was kicked off the chair of psychiatry thrown at Emory, according to a June 6, 2010, article by Paul Basken in the “Chronicle of Higher Education.”

Bernard Carroll, who was Nemeroff’s boss for over 6 years while Nemeroff was a professor at Duke, says Nemeroff probably called in some markers. Because back in 1994, Nemeroff found Insel a position at Emory when Insel was facing nonrenewal of a research job at NIMH. And, in addition to being Insel’s boss at Emory, Nemeroff also lobbied for Insel’s appointment as NIMH director, and soon after Insel moved to the NIMH, he appointed Nemeroff as an advisor, Carroll says.

In a November 5, 2009, press release, UM announced Nemeroff’s hiring and described him as “one of the world’s leading experts in the field of psychiatry.”

Although not a peep was said about his fall from grace or the problems Nemeroff caused at Emory, the release stated: “He moved to Emory in 1991 as chairman of psychiatry. There he took an average department to become one of the top ten in the country.”

On January 4, 2010, Ed Silverman posted a Pharmalot blog under the title, “Charles Nemeroff and the House That Glaxo Built,” with a link to a December 30, 2009, headline for a story by BlockShopper, in South Florida, that read: “Psychiatrist spends $1.91M on Miami 6BD.”

“Dr. Charles B. Nemeroff and Gayle Nemeroff bought a six-bedroom, seven-bath home at 1780 Espanola Dr. in Miami from David and Carolyn Shulevitz for $1.91 million on Dec. 4, ” BlockShopper reported.

In addition to pointing out that Nemeroff had taken a new job at UM, Silverman wrote, “the new home appears big enough to house plenty of consulting materials.”

The next day, he informed readers that the first house that Glaxo built for Nemeroff in Atlanta was up for sale at a price of $1.25 million. “This one sports just five bedrooms, but still plenty of room for storing consulting materials,” he wrote.

The Emory investigation found Nemeroff was paid more than $960,000 by Glaxo, from 2000 through 2006, but he listed less than $35,000 on disclosure forms. All totaled, he had earnings of $2.8 million from drug companies between 2000 and 2007, but failed to disclose at least $1.2 million, according to Grassley’s reports.

The real outrage toward Insel stems from the reporting that Pascal Goldschmidt, dean of the UM’s medical school, told Baskin that Insel guaranteed him Nemeroff would be allowed to apply for NIH research grants, even though Emory had suspended Nemeroff’s work on an NIH grant, and in December 2008, placed a 2-year ban on Nemeroff applying for NIH funding. Goldschmidt claimed Emory’s ban “was an immediate reaction to the political pressure that the university was under.”

Further fanning the flames, was the Chronicle’s revelations that Nemeroff is serving on the NIH expert panels that help decide “which grant applications win federal financing,” at a time when there is still an ongoing investigation into the NIH’s lack of oversight of Emory and conflicts of interest involving Nemeroff, by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General.

After reading Baskin’s article, Grassley fired off a letter to Daniel Levinson, the Inspector General, on June 7, 2010. “I was extremely disturbed to read a story today in The Chronicle of Higher Education,” he told the IG.

“For almost a year,” he wrote, “Dr. Charles Nemeroff has been under investigation by your office for failing to fully disclose his conflicts of interest regarding his grants from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).”

“During this same time, The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that the Director of the NIMH was assisting Dr. Nemeroff in obtaining a new job and made assurances that Dr. Nemeroff would be able to apply for new NIMH grants,” he said. “I ask that you look into this matter and proceed as you deem appropriate.”

On June 7, 2010, Grassley sent a letter to UM president, Donna Shalala, basically stating the same thing except he told her: “I was also troubled by Dr. Goldschmidt’s comments that a ban against Dr. Nemeroff from receiving NIH grants was ‘an immediate reaction to the political pressure that the university was under.’”

“President Shalala,” he wrote, “I hope that you would agree–contrary to Dr. Goldschmidt’s views that disciplining researchers for failing to disclose conflicts of interest is merely a political issue–that enforcing federal conflict of interest policy involves ethical and legal issues that ensure taxpayer trust.”

In response to the letter, Grassley asked her to provide “all emails and communications by Dr. Goldschmidt,” regarding Nemeroff’s conflicts of interest and Nemeroff’s work and/or grants with the NIH, and “all emails and communications by Dr. Nemeroff,” regarding the same, along with all conflict of interest forms filed by Nemeroff with UM.

Money Laundering Operation

Dr Daniel Carlat, author of the Carlat Psychiatry Blog, and the new book, “Unhinged: the Trouble With Psychiatry,” explains that “much of the continuing medical education (CME) industry in the United States is a legalized money laundering operation,” in a June 10, 2008 blog.

“Rather than paying doctors directly to give accredited CME courses (which is illegal), drug companies pay third party companies to create the courses,” he says. “The checks are actually written by the education company, but the ultimate source is clearly the sponsoring pharmaceutical company.”

The Harvard scandal represents the “perfect storm” of the CME industry money laundering operation, Carlat reported on his blog.

It’s clear that “the majority of money received by these doctors did not come directly from drug companies, but indirectly from various third party companies,” he says. “And this is likely the key to the mystery of why the doctors assumed they could ethically hide these payments.”

After going through the list of payments posted in the Congressional Record, Carlat found it appeared that “the vast majority of the money eventually reported by the Harvard Trio, a combined $4.2 million over 7 years, was drug company money that was laundered and processed to seem like it wasn’t drug company money.”

“The most glaring example,” he says, “comes from Dr. Wilens disclosures.”

Grassley posted slightly more than a third of Wilens’ payments ($612,303 out of a total of $1.6 million). Only $69,915 of this (11%) came directly from drug companies. Most of the money ($542,388) came from various third party companies, many, possibly all of which, are CME companies, Carlat reports.

“The biggest tool the industry has for off-label promotion is continuing education,” says Adriane Fugh-Berman, an associate professor at Georgetown University Medical Center, involved with a program called PharmedOut, created to educate doctors about the prescribing influences of big drug companies, in the Star-Ledger on June 6, 2010.

“Physicians have freedom of speech and aren’t under the same constraints as industry employees,” she explained.

When drugs are prescribed for off-label or unnecessary uses, public health care programs not only have to pay for the drugs, they must also pay the prescribing doctors’ fees and the cost of medical care for any injuries caused by the drugs.

Government spending tied to psychiatric drugs has gone through the roof in the past two decades due to the bilking of public programs. And no doubt as a result, pharma CEOs are earning over the top pay packages. In 2008, the head of J&J pulled in $29.1 million, Abbott Labs’ CEO took home $28.3 million, the top dog at Bristol-Myers earned over $23 million, Lilly’s CEO pulled down close to $13 million, Pfizer’s took home over $15.5 million, Wyeth’s CEO earned nearly $26 million, and Forest Labs’ top official was paid more than $6.5 million, according to the AFL-CIO’s “Executive Pay Watch” website.

American Psychiatric Association

Early on in his investigation, Grassley asked the “American Psychiatric Association,” for an accounting of money received from drug companies and foundations created by drug companies. In 2006, the industry accounted for about 30% of the Association’s $62.5 million in financing, or about $18.75 million, according to the New York Times.

The 38,000 member APA describes itself as “a national medical specialty society whose physician members specialize in the diagnosis, treatment, prevention and research of mental illnesses.”

The outgoing president of the APA is Alan Schatzberg, the same guy whose name appears on the Grassley list.

The “American Psychiatric Foundation,” is the charitable and public educational arm of the APA, according to its website. In 2009, the Foundation’s 15 member board of directors included four Vice Presidents from the drug companies Pfizer, Eli Lilly, and J&J’s Janssen Pharmaceutica division.

On its website, the Foundation identifies drug companies that donate but does not give the exact amount. For example, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers, Lilly, Forest, Janssen, and Wyeth are listed as giving “$40,000 and above.” However, the few grant reports publicly available show drug companies may be giving more than ten times that amount. Lilly donated $450,000 to the Foundation in 2007, in addition to the $400,000 given to the American Psychiatric Association.

The Foundation also received one grant from Lilly for $241,915 in 2009, and another $20,000 donation to fund the Foundation’s Newsletter. The Foundation received $102,961 from Pfizer, and $205,400 from Wyeth, in 2009, as well.

In the first quarter of 2010, the Foundation received grants from Lilly of $36,000, $10,000 and $18,000. Pfizer gave the Foundation $20,000 in the first quarter of 2010.

Pfizer’s 2008 grant report shows donations of more than $700,000 to the American Psychiatric Association. Lilly gave the APA grants totaling more than $600,000 in both the first and second quarter of 2008. Wyeth donated $43,831 in 2008.

Lilly’s 2009 report shows the APA received four grants of $154,575, $142,575, $142,575, and $154,575. Pfizer gave the group $250,000 in 2009.

The American Psychiatric Institute for Research and Education (APIRE), is another philanthropic arm of the APA, established in 1998 “to establish the leadership role of the APA in contributing to the scientific base of psychiatric practice and policy,” with a stated mission to “improve the quality of psychiatric care through research, education, health policy analysis, and dissemination.”

For the March 6, 2010, paper, “Pharmaceutical Philanthropic Shell Games,” in Psychiatric Times, Lisa Cosgrove, PhD and Harold J. Bursztajn, MD, investigated the financial relationships of the APIRE board members with pharmaceutical companies that manufacture psychiatric drugs and found 9 of the 16 board members have industry ties.

“The fact that over half of APIRE’s board has financial ties to industry is problematic, and it is noteworthy that this percentage is a highly conservative estimate,” they wrote.

“Current disclosure policies do not require reporting of pooled industry monies (eg, when companies give large sums of money to academic departments, units, hospitals, and medical schools)—even when direct benefit, such as salary, may be derived from pooled funds,” they point out.

In addition, one board member who reported “no disclosure” in an APA publication “was found to be on the speakers’ bureau of multiple pharmaceutical companies,” they note.

The APA is currently revising psychiatry’s billing bible, the DSM-V. “Approximately 68% of the members of the DSM-V task force reported having industry ties, which represents a relative increase of 20% over the proportion of DSM-IV task force members with such ties,” Cosgrove and Bursztajn report.

“Also, of the 137 DSM-V panel members who have posted disclosure statements, 77 (56%) have reported having industry ties, such as holding stock in pharmaceutical companies, serving as consultants to industry, or serving on company boards—no improvement over the 56% of DSM-IV members who were found to have such industry relationships,” they point out.

The APA also issues “Clinical Practice Guidelines,” with recommendations for the use of specific drugs for mental disorders. “Ninety percent of the authors of 3 major clinical practice guidelines in psychiatry had financial ties to companies that manufacture drugs explicitly or implicitly identified in the guidelines as recommended therapies for the respective mental illnesses,” according Cosgrove and Bursztain.

They also found the corporate advisory council of the Foundation “is made up of pharmaceutical companies that contribute significant funding to APF and that manufacture medications recommended in the APA’s CPG.”

On June 11, 2010, the Wall Street Journal reported that the APA “has seen a $7.5 million decrease in pharmaceutical industry dollars over the past year – a more than 10% cut in revenue, which funds its research and education activities.”

“The biggest changes at the APA have come at its money making annual meeting,” the Journal said. “Over the past three years it has been phasing out industry sponsored symposia – dinners and talks.” This translated to a loss of $1.8 million to $1.9 million in industry funding between 2008 and 2009, an APA official told the Journal.

However, according to Martha Rosenberg’s coverage of the group’s annual meeting in a May 31, 2010, Scoop article, although 200 protestors were chanting “no drugging kids for money,” and “no conflicts of interest,” at the convention hall, “polarizing figures” were still present at this year’s event.

For instance, she writes: “Sitting next to outgoing APA president Alan F. Schatzberg, MD, even as protestors chanted outside, was Charles Nemeroff, MD, former psychiatry chairman at Emory University who was investigated by Congress.”

“And a paper presented about attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) was co-written by Harvard’s Joseph Biederman, MD, also investigated by Congress for pharma financial links and considered the father of the pediatric bipolar disorder craze,” she reports.

“Nemeroff was signing the Textbook of Psychopharmacology which he co-edited with Schatzberg, also investigated by Congress. Schatzberg, psychiatry chairman at Stanford, consults to seven drug companies, owns stock and patents with others and is on Sanofi-Aventis’ Speakers Bureau according to the meeting’s Daily Bulletin,” she wrote.

National Alliance on Mental Illness

Last year, the National Alliance on Mental Illness became the first patient advocacy group to come under investigation by Grassley’s Committee. In a letter to Michael Fitzpatrick, Executive Director of NAMI, in April 2009, Grassley asked for “an accounting of industry funding that pharmaceutical companies or foundations established by these companies have provided,” to NAMI since January 2005.

“Based upon reporting in the New York Times,” Grassley said, “I have come to understand that money from the pharmaceutical industry shapes the practices of non-profit organizations which purport to be independent in their viewpoints and actions.”

“Specifically, it is alleged that pharmaceutical companies give money to non-profits in an attempt to garner favor in ways that increase sales of their products,” he explained.

The disclosures provided to Grassley revealed that the National NAMI group receives nearly two-thirds of its funding from the pharmaceutical industry. Between 2006 and 2008, drug companies, and their foundations, gave the group almost $23 million.

After receiving Grassley’s letter, NAMI’s executive director sent out an email to many NAMI supporters and stated in part: “NAMI does not engage in product promotion, endorsement, licensure or certification of any product, service or program owned by a corporate sponsor.”

However, Philip Dawdy pointed out the falsity of that claim on his Furious Seasons website. “Fitzpatrick has certainly engaged in product pimpery for J&J/Janssen,” he wrote in his daily blog. To substantiate the “pimpery” charge, Dawdy provided a link to a blog he wrote on December 21, 2006, in response to a J&J press release put out to promote its Risperdal’s me-too drug, Invega, with Fitzpatrick praising the drug using his official title of “Executive Director, National Alliance on Mental Illness.”

“New and efficacious treatment options, like INVEGA, provide significant opportunities for more people with schizophrenia to manage their disease as they work with their treatment teams to live more fulfilling and productive lives,” Fitzpatrick stated in the press release.

In her book, Side Effects, Alison Bass tells a story of how James McNulty, NAMI president from 2002 to 2004, failed to disclose that he was being paid thousands of dollars by drug companies to promote their products to NAMI members, and others, at speaking engagements. “In a particularly intriguing twist,” she notes on her website, “McNulty laundered this drug company money through a state chapter of NAMI.” Bass further explains how the scheme worked for funneling the cash to McNulty:

“He would be paid thousands of dollars to speak about the benefits of various antidepressants — McNulty himself suffered from depression — and rather than pay him directly, companies such as Eli Lilly, the maker of Prozac, Pfizer, the maker of Zoloft, and GlaxoSmithKline, which made Paxil, would give his speaking fees to the Rhode Island chapter of NAMI, which would then cut McNulty a check.”

On May 8, 2008, when the APA announced the members of the work groups who would develop the DSM5, James McNulty was listed as a task force member with an expert qualification of “President Emeritus,” of NAMI.

Each year, NAMI gives awards to “Exemplary Psychiatrists,” at its annual banquet. In 2008, a May 5, press release reported that “support for the awards” is provided by Eli Lilly and Janssen, Division of Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

NAMI was named as a defendant, right along with Pfizer, in a Medicaid fraud lawsuit filed by whistleblower, Mark Westlock, involving the illegal promotion of Geodon. Pfizer “conspired” with NAMI to act as a front organization in the off-label promotion of Geodon, the complaint says. Pfizer turned “NAMI into a Trojan Horse for the illegal marketing scheme to promote Geodon,” for use with children on the NAMI website.

Laurie Flynn, the former executive director of NAMI, and current leader of Columbia University’s TeenScreen, even went so far as to claim that with the advent of atypical antipsychotic medicines “the long-term disability of schizophrenia can come to an end,” the complaint alleges.

In addition to Geodon, the drugs currently marketed by Pfizer, through NAMI and the pyramid of front groups, include the antidepressants Zoloft, Nardil, Sinequan, Effexor and Pristiq, Xanax for anxiety, the anticonvulsants, Neurontin and Lyrica, and the anti-smoking drug, Chantix, and the ED drug, Viagra.

In September 2009, the US Department of Justice announced that Pfizer would pay the largest single criminal fine, and largest combined federal and state health care fraud settlement in the history of the DOJ. The company agreed to pay $2.3 billion, with $1.3 billion in criminal fines, “to resolve criminal and civil health care liability relating to fraudulent marketing and the payment of kickbacks,” according to the government’s “Stop Medicare Fraud Website.”

The charges included paying kickbacks to health care providers to “induce them to prescribe,” or “in connection with marketing,” for a list of thirteen drugs that included Geodon, Zoloft, Lyrica and Viagra. The six whistleblowers received a combined total of roughly $100 million for helping the government.

Brian Kenney and Tavy Deming of the Pennsylvania firm of Kenney Egan McCafferty & Young, represented the Geodon whistleblowers. The off-label marketing allegations were first made in a lawsuit filed on behalf of Harrisburg psychiatrist, Dr Stefan Kruszewski.

The antipsychotic was approved only for adults with schizophrenia or acute manic or mixed episodes of bipolar disorder, but Pfizer illegally promoted it for off-label conditions that included depression, bipolar maintenance, mood disorder, anxiety, aggression, dementia, ADHD, obsessive compulsive disorder, autism, PSTD, and for pediatric, adolescent and geriatric patients, according to the complaint.

Less than “5% of the United States population is diagnosed with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, yet in 2008 Geodon surpassed the blockbuster benchmark of $1 billion in sales,” Attorney Deming reported in a September 2, 2009 press release.

As part of its marketing campaign, Pfizer claimed that Geodon had a safe metabolic profile when compared to other antipsychotics, such as Zyprexa, Seroquel and Risperdal, and urged doctors to switch patients to Geodon. The switching campaign “endangered patients by ignoring or materially understating Geodon’s serious, and even life threatening, side effects,” Attorney Kenney said in the press release.

On September 3, 2009, Kruszewski told the Philidelphia Inquirer that Pfizer sales representatives pushed him to prescribe Geodon to children for such symptoms as anxiety and agitation.

“Pfizer targeted pediatrics and adolescents to expand off-label use and maintained on its payroll an army of more than 250 child psychiatrists nationwide,” Kenney reported in the press release.

“Pfizer regularly paid generous speaking fees to these child psychiatrists to give what were basically promotional lectures about the benefits of Geodon to their peers, who were naturally also child psychiatrists,” he said.

Apparently, NAMI will continue on with business as usual, except now it will disclose the amounts of Pharma gifts. In 2009, NAMI received 84 payments over $5,000 from different sources, according to an April 2010, analysis by John Mack, on his popular Pharma Marketing Blog. Of payments totaling $4,737,610, Mack found $3,836,750, or 81%, came from major drug companies, with the largest amounts coming from antipsychotic makers, including $1,255,000 from AstraZeneca, followed by Lilly with $750,500, and Bristol-Myers giving 506,250. Wyeth’s 2009 grant report shows donations to all NAMI groups totaling $268,000.

In October 2009, Grassley sent letters to all fifty state NAMI chapters asking them to disclose income from pharmaceutical companies and their foundations. On April 26, 2010, Grassley sent a letter to the leaders of NAMI National and included a chart showing the top 10 state chapters receiving the most money from January 2005 to October 2009, totaling $3.84 million.

Also in October 2009, NAMI CEO Fitzpatrick told the New York Times: “For at least the years of ’07, ’08 and ’09, the percentage of money from pharma has been higher than we have wanted it to be,” and promised the industry’s share of NAMI fund raising would drop “significantly” in 2010.

However, NAMI’s grant report for the first quarter of 2010, shows the group received $1,247,128 from drug companies and foundations, or only $2,212 less than the $1,249,340 it received in the first quarter of 2009. So far this year, Lilly gave NAMI groups over $84,000, and Pfizer’s report shows $78,000 went to NAMI groups.

Conspicuously missing from NAMI’s 2010 first quarter report is AstraZeneca, being the Seroquel maker gave the National group $905,000 in the last quarter of 2009. It may be that Astra was too busy rounding up the more than $520 million it agreed to pay the Federal government and State Medicaid programs in April 2010, to resolve fraud allegations related to the off-label marketing of Seroquel.

“Illegal acts by pharmaceutical companies and false claims against Medicare and Medicaid can put the public health at risk, corrupt medical decisions by health care providers, and take billions of dollars directly out of taxpayers’ pockets,” said Attorney General, Eric Holder, in an April 27, 2010, DOJ press release.

But Astra can’t be hurting financially because in 2008, even though it makes up only about 5% of the world population, the US accounted for over $3 billion of the roughly $4.45 billion in world-wide Seroquel sales. It was Astra’s second-best selling drug that year, behind the heartburn drug Nexium, and the fifth top selling drug in sales overall in the US. The price of Seroquel at DrugStore.com that year was $839 for hundred middle dose tablets in December 2008. By August 23, 2009, the price had increased by $50 to $890 for the same number of pills.

“A half a billion dollar one-time settlement is just a small cost of doing business for a company that sold $17 billion worth of the offending drug in the last five years,” Dr Roy Poses points out on the Health Care Renewal website.

“This was a well thought out marketing campaign that operated on many levels,” said Brian Kenney, one of the attorneys who again represented, Dr Kruszewski, one of two whistleblowers in this case as well, in an April 28, 2010 press release.

“AstraZeneca orchestrated scientific studies, ghost written articles, and the payment of large fees to academic psychiatrists to act as ‘thought leaders’ to promote the drug off label,” he noted.

“The success can be seen in the huge numbers the campaign generated with 4.9 billion in sales in 2009,” Kenney pointed out.

“It’s particularly disconcerting that AstraZeneca successfully co-opted large portions of psychiatric academic community,” he added.

“The manipulation and misuse of Seroquel scientific data to support AstraZeneca’s off-label marketing campaign was the most disturbing aspect of the case to me,” Kruszewski said in the press release. “There were strong indications from AstraZeneca’s earliest clinical trials that Seroquel increased the risk of diabetes and induced profound sedation out of proportion to its weak antipsychotic effects.”

“In the elderly population, they basically marketed Seroquel as an expensive sleeping pill and put hundreds of thousands of patients at risk for serious medical complications, premature cardiovascular disease, pneumonias, and premature death,” he reported.

In addition to paying $520 million, Astra had to enter into a 5-year corporate integrity agreement that requires the company to post information about payments to doctors on its website, which no doubt will include payments funneled through front groups like NAMI, for Continuing Medical Education programs, speaker fees, research grants, and the various awards given out each years.

Because according to the DOJ press release, the government contends that Astra “promoted the unapproved uses by improperly and unduly influencing the content of, and speakers, in company-sponsored Continuing Medical Education programs.”

“The company also engaged doctors to give promotional speaker programs on unapproved uses for Seroquel and to conduct studies on unapproved uses of Seroquel,” it says. “In addition, the company recruited doctors to serve as authors of articles that were ghostwritten by medical literature companies and about studies the doctors in question did not conduct. AstraZeneca then used those studies and articles as the basis for promotional messages about unapproved uses of Seroquel.”

According to a recent report by Jim Edwards on BNET, former NAMI policy director and board member, Jim Dailey, was a paid consultant for Astra’s Seroquel marketing team, and was paid $600, plus airfare and limousine service, to attend one Seroquel consultant meeting in December 2003.

A picture taken at the meeting shows Daily, along with current NAMI CEO, Fitzpatrick, and Chuck Harmon, NAMI director of corporate relations, meeting with several Astra sales executives. The agenda for the meeting was: Seroquel vision, Role of Advocacy Groups, Increasing role of State/Medicaid with MH issues and MAP initiatives, and Ensuring access for patients.

Edwards explains that “MAP” sometimes stands for “Medication Algorithm Project.” NAMI, along with J&J’s Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is identified in a Medicaid fraud lawsuit filed against J&J by former federal fraud investigator, Allen Jones, and joined by the Texas attorney general, as participating in off-label marketing schemes to increase the sales of Risperdal, including the “Texas Medication Algorithm Project,” and “Texas Children’s Medication Algorithm Project.”

Latest Plan of Attack

On June 17, 2010, under the headline, “Psychotropic Drug Abuse in Foster Care Costs Government Billions,” Politics Daily reported that the Senate Subcommittee on Federal Financial Management, has asked the Government Accountability Office to look into the drugging of foster care children, who are typically concurrently enrolled in Medicaid.

“The investigators will attempt to account for estimates in the hundreds of millions of dollars of possible fraud arising from prescriptions for drugs explicitly barred from Medicaid coverage,” according to the report.

“Often young patients under state supervision are also prescribed three or four high-risk drugs at a time — all paid for by Medicaid,” it pointed out.

“The GAO is collecting data from Oregon, Massachusetts, Florida, Maryland, Minnesota and Texas, to search for patterns of abuse,” Politics said. “This effort marks the first time suspicion of Medicaid fraud related to psychotropic drugs has been examined at the federal level.”

Alaska attorney, and founder of the Law Project for Psychiatric Rights, Jim Gottstein, told Politics that the increase of antipsychotic use in foster care amounts to “drug companies sacrificing children’s lives on the altar of corporate profits.”

In attempt to put a stop to the rampant off-label psychiatric drugging of foster kids, and other children on Medicaid, in Alaska, Gottstein and PsychRights have filed a Medicaid fraud lawsuit against a number of prescribing doctors, drug companies, pharmacies, and insurance companies in that state.

After learning NAMI was pulling in two-thirds of its funding from Pharma, Grassley sent disclosure requests to over 30 more non-profits. The final part in this series will cover the psychiatric front groups contacted including the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, Mental Health America, the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression, Screening for Mental Health, Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, and the National Center for Mental Checkups at Columbia University, or better known as TeenScreen.

(This series is sponsored by the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology http://icspponline.org/index.html)

Filed under: 'ADHD', 2010, AFSP, antipsychotics, APA, CHADD, DSM, FDA, front groups, ICSPP, Insel, KOL, MEDICAID, MHA, NAMI, NIMH, Paxil, TeenScreen, TMAP

Donate: Stop Preventable Infant Deaths and Birth Defects

Click here to lend your support to: Stop Preventable Infant Deaths and Birth Defects and make a donation at www.pledgie.com !

Be a Facebook Fan!

UNITE FOR LIFE Fan Page

UNITE FOR LIFE Fan Page

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 729 other followers

Get the latest from the Fiddaman blog

Archives

UNITE News

July 2014
M T W T F S S
« Feb    
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031  

Where Do People See This Blog?

Protect babies from drugs

Eli Lilly Funds Depression Screening Initiatives

depredrugshirt

Matthew Schultz killed by Effexor. Two hours old.

More Photos

Big Pharma Victim

  • I haven't been on in awhile thanks to all those who followed 3 years ago
  • @LindsayRush yay IOWA! 4 years ago
  • Another rainy day here in IOWA. Well at least i had a good time swimmin yesterday. 4 years ago
  • Hey everyone hope you have a great day! THanks to all the new followers :) and for those that continue to follow 4 years ago
  • srry if I dont get on here much I mostly just look at my facebook acct. thanks to all the new followers! 4 years ago

The Indiana Star

Christiane Schultz

  • Is not coping well at all. Loss sucks! 4 years ago
  • is scared to bond with this baby, just in case. 4 years ago
  • Happy 6 months today baby. I love you Matthew. 4 years ago
  • Living with loss, sucks. 4 years ago
  • Thinking I need to discuss plans for this baby soon or I will be having it in my doctors office. Where do I deliver? 4 years ago

Amery Schultz

Seeking Parents in Missouri for Celexa / Lexapro Class Action – Call 800-827-0087

TWEET FOR LIFE

BREATH – The Official Blog of MADNAP – momsandmeds.com

RSS BREATH

  • Untitled
    Originally posted on The Bitter Pill:Kickstarter is a website for artists to use to raise money and complete awesome projects. The best thing to come to the informed consent movement since Thomas Szasz could just be the new, upcoming film by Dan Jenski, “ADDicted” which basically gives Ritalin, Adderall, Concerta and the like a…
  • Untitled
    Originally posted on The Bitter Pill:In the studies submitted to the FDA for approving Zoloft (a drug that has killed numerous families, babies, mothers, children), the drug maker covered up the fact that Zoloft failed to outperform placebo, according to a new consumer fraud lawsuit filed by the firms Baum, Hedlund Aristei & Goldman…
  • Antidepressants Again Linked to Preterm Birth & Seizures
    In what was more than likely originally an attempt to prove that depression causes birth complications, researchers from Yale, Tufts, et al found in two new studies that antidepressants increase the risk of preterm birth and seizures. Read more at this link on the newly redesigned UNITE website.
  • Who Could Do This On Purpose
    Read this blog to find out
  • Canadian Regulation on Fetal Exposure to Psychotropic Drugs – Public Input Needed
    Canadian Regulation on Fetal Exposure to Psychotropic Drugs – Public Input Needed (Cross-Posted on The Bitter Pill blog) Amery and Christiane Schultz have been asked to provide input on proposed recommendations regarding psychotropic drugs in pregnancy in Canada. Amery & Christiane are hard-working activists affiliated with UNITE and MADNAP. Please send […]

UNITE ARCHIVES – Victims & Survivors Against The MOTHERS Act: YouTube Playlist

Videos: Psych Drugs, Birth Defects, Infant Death, Violence & Suicide

UNITE ARCHIVES – Add Your Group To The Coalition Against The MOTHERS Act

CADIMA: 54 Groups and Counting!

UNITE ARCHIVES – The MOTHERS Act Citizen Voting Area on Open Congress

Status: 76% AGAINST S. 324 The MOTHERS Act. Vote & Comment.

UNITE ARCHIVES – Join the Coalition Against The MOTHERS Act on Facebook!

3,271 Facebook Members and Counting!

UNITE ARCHIVES – Stop The Dangerous and Invasive MOTHERS Act!

13,500 Signatures and Counting!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 729 other followers

%d bloggers like this: