The Bitter Pill

The Official Blog of UNITE – uniteforlife.org

World Experts Demand End to Child Drugging in the US – Part I

Evelyn Pringle October 25, 2007

On October 12, 2007, experts in the field of psychiatry and child development from all over the world arrived in Washington to attend the annual conference of the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology. This year’s conference focused on one specific goal – to end the mass-prescribing of psychiatric drugs to children.

In addition to the seminars and presentations by psychiatric experts and academics, other presenters and speakers at the conference varied from patients and leaders of patient advocacy groups to social workers, nurses, educators, authors and lawmakers.

The conference included presentations on the serious health risks associated with the new generation of psychiatric drugs now commonly prescribed to children, including attention deficit medications, antidepressant drugs and atypical antipsychotics.

Much of the outrage expressed by speakers and attendees alike stemmed from the recommendation by the Bush Administration’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health to conduct “universal” mental illness screening of all Americans from the age of “0″ on up to the oldest living citizen.

The main topics of debate included the recommendations by the NFC to screen public school children in all 50 states with a program called TeenScreen and the implementation in many states of programs modeled after TMAP (Texas Medication Algorithm Project), a treatment plan that mandates the use of the new expensive psychiatric drugs with all patients diagnosed with mental disorders who are covered by public health care programs such as Medicaid.

The new generation of antidepressant drugs include Prozac and Cymbalta by Eli Lilly; Paxil marketed by GlaxoSmithKline; Zoloft by Pfizer; Celexa and Lexapro from Forest Laboratories; Effexor by Wyeth, as well as generic versions sold by Barr Pharmaceuticals, Ranbaxy Labs and Genpharm.

The new generation of atypical antipsychotics include Zyprexa by Eli Lilly; Risperdal marketed by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a subdivision of Johnson & Johnson; Abilify by Bristol-Myers Squibb; Clozaril sold by Novartis, and Geodon by Pfizer.

Many of the presentations at the conference focused on the pharmaceutical industry’s role in the invention of both TMAP and TeenScreen and the many financial ties between the drug makers, the Bush administration, a group of psychiatrists, and state policy makers largely credited with the creation and promotion of these two programs.

Minnesota Pediatrician Dr Karen Effrem produced a briefing booklet and CD entitled, “The Dangers of Universal Mental Health Screening,” which is available at the ICSPP web site at http://www.icspp.org/.

During her presentation, Dr Effrem explained the history of TMAP and TeenScreen, a 52-question computerized self-administered questionnaire that takes 10 minutes to complete and was developed by Columbia University Children’s Psychiatric Center.

“The New Freedom Commission, TMAP and TeenScreen,” Dr Effrem notes, “appear to be a blatant political/pharmaceutical company alliances that promote medication, and more precisely, more expensive antidepressants and antipsychotics, which are at best of questionable benefit and come with deadly side effects.”

During the portion on TeenSceen, Dr Effrem cited one study which found an 82% false-positive rate in students screened, meaning that if 100 students were tested, 82 were wrongly flagged as having some mental disorder. “TeenScreen’s extremely high false-positive rate makes the test virtually useless as a diagnostic instrument,” she stated.

According to Dr Effrem, it is “difficult, if not impossible” to diagnose young children accurately, due to very rapid developmental changes. “Often, adult signs and symptoms of mental disorders in adults are characteristics of normal development in children and adolescents,” she explains.

Since the arrival of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors antidepressants (SSRI’s) and atypical antipsychotics on the market, countless studies have shown the so-called “wonder drugs” to be ineffective and harmful to children. But for years, drug companies have manipulated data, suppressed negative clinical trials and published only the studies that showed positive results.

The truth is that the mass drugging of the entire population in the US with SSRI’s has accomplished nothing when it comes to reducing suicidality. According to a June 2005 study, primarily funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, in the Journal of the American Medical Association, although people who were likely to attempt suicide were far more likely to be treated with antidepressants in 2001-2003, the rates for suicide attempts, gestures and ideation remained basically unchanged for over a decade.

To reach their conclusions, the researchers analyzed a survey of close to 10,000 adults and compared it to a similar survey conduced 10 years earlier for the years 1990-1992.

The prescribing rates for psychiatric drugs increased every year during that time period. On January 13, 2005, WebMD reported a government study that reviewed the patterns of treatment from the mid-1990′s to 2001, and found more Americans than ever were being treated for depression, substance abuse and mental disorders but that the treatment was most often limited to drugs alone.

The cost of mental health drugs rose 20% each year, and according to study, about 80% of the increase could be explained by the increased prescribing of antidepressants and atypical antipsychotics.

A “Myth and Fact Sheet” presented at the conference reports that, in 2003, more money was spent on psychiatric drugs for children than on antibiotics and asthma medications.

By tugging at the heartstrings of parents in claiming TeenScreen is a suicide prevention tool, the drug profiteers have managed to set up the bogus screening program in towns and cities all across America, and the promoters never seem to tire of using the line that suicide is the third leading cause of death in teens and adolescents in the US. However, experts explain that the rate of suicide remains high on the list only because persons in this age group seldom die of any causes.

During his presentation at the conference, neurologist Dr Fred Baughman, a recognized authority on psychotropic drugs and author of “The ADHD Fraud,” stated: “Psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry married and launched the joint market strategy of calling all emotional and behavioral problems ‘brain diseases’, due to ‘chemical imbalances’, needing ‘chemical balancers’ – pills.”

“Every time parents are lead to believe that their child’s emotional or behavioral problems are a ‘disease’ due to an abnormality in the brain,” Dr Baughman says, “they are lied to.”

He discussed the overdose death of 4-year-old Rebecca Riley in December 2006, who was diagnosed with ADHD and Bipolar Disorder when she was only 2-and-a half-years old. She was kept on a cocktail of 3 psychiatric drugs, none of which were FDA approved alone for a child her age, much less together, until the time of her death.

The title of his presentation was, “Who Killed Rebecca Riley,” and Dr Baughman placed the blame squarely on the gang of industry shills who are largely credited with the invention and promotion of ADHD and Bipolar Disorders in small children, including among others, Dr Joseph Biederman, Dr Steven Hyman, Dr Jerome Groopman and Dr David Shaffer, the brainchild credited with inventing TeenScreen.

The Fact Sheet reports a 2006 review of the FDA’s MedWatch adverse event database, which found 45 deaths in children due to toxicity of antipsychotics.

Dr Baughman calls the use of the “chemical imbalance theory,” the “biggest health care fraud” and “mass character assassination” in human history, and says it must be abolished.
Dr Dominick Riccio, executive director of the ICSPP, also weighed in on the “chemical imbalance” theory and said that child drugging in the US is based on a “hypotheses with no validity,” propagandized by the pharmaceutical industry.

He warned that there is absolutely no scientific evidence to validate the “chemical imbalance” used to justify the drugging of America’s “most precious commodity,” and “if we continue to damage our children, there will be hell to pay down the line.”

Dr Riccio called for “integrity” in the psychiatric profession and told professionals in attendance, “if you do not understand child development, you should not work with children.”

Washington psychiatrist, Dr Joseph Tarantolo, warned that the new selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants are not “selective,” “the drugs are cannons,” he said.
He also explained that the “so-called” antipsychotic drugs do not affect psychosis, “they deaden a person’s response to life.”

According to Dr Tarantolo, because the drugging began 10 or 15 years ago, “we are going to have an epidemic of young adults with yet-to-be-determined neurological problems due to the long term use of psychotropic drugs.”

He says an epidemic is defined as 1% of the population and warns that there will be far more than 1% injured by these drugs.

The bribing of prescribing doctors in the field of psychiatry is rampant. A June 26, 2007, report by the Attorney General of Vermont of payments made to doctors by drug companies during the period July 1, 2005 through June 30, 2006, shows that, by category, psychiatrists were the largest beneficiaries, and 11 psychiatrists received a combined total of $502,612.02, or more than 22% of the overall total of all payments.

For the past 4 years, psychiatric drug makers have remained high on the list of the top 10 spenders in Vermont, with Paxil maker Glaxo holding the number one position in both 2003 and 2004.

An analysis of Minnesota disclosure records by the consumer watchdog group Public Citizen, reported by the Pioneer Press, found a similar windfall for shrinks in that state between 2002 and 2006, with psychiatrists receiving combined payments of $7.38 million.

However, the drug maker’s off-label sales of antipsychotics are now under fire due to the greed involved in the billings submitted for Medicaid patients. In September 2007, Arkansas became the latest state to sue the drug makers when it announced the filing of a lawsuit against Lilly, Janssen and AstraZeneca for “improper and unlawful marketing,” of their drugs and concealing the serious health risks associated with their use.

The Medicaid fraud lawsuits seek to recover not only the money paid for the antipsychotics but also the cost of medical care for all the patients who were injured by the drugs known to cause drastic weight gain, abnormal blood sugars and diabetes.

The bribing of shrinks may be coming to an end as well because, in addition to Medicaid fraud lawsuits, states are also going after the prescribers. On August 16, 2006, the Houston Chronicle reported that five doctors in Texas were notified that they needed to return the Medicaid money paid for drugs they prescribed as part of a two-year effort to better regulate how children are prescribed psychiatric drugs in that state.

The Chronicle reported that a review of a two-month period of Medicaid records in 2004 determined that over 63,000 foster children were on stimulants, antipsychotics or antidepressants, with nearly one-third of the kids taking drugs from more than one of the three classes at the same time and that doctors had filed 114,315 claims worth over $17 million.

The experts at the ICSPP conference reported that the over-prescribing of attention deficit drugs is also out of control, even after the new warnings were issued. The ICSPP Fact Sheet notes that the new labeling changes for ADHD medications include: “Sudden death has been reported in association with CNS stimulant treatment at usual doses in children and adolescents with structural cardiac abnormalities or other serious heart problems.”

“Treatment emergent psychotic or manic symptoms, e.g., hallucinations, delusional can be caused by stimulants at usual doses,” the warning also notes.

Psychiatrist Dr Grace Jackson, author of “Rethinking Psychiatric Drugs,” says the fact that cardiovascular risks are associated with ADHD drugs is not news. “As early as 1977,” she says, “research documented the cell changes associated with heart muscle enlargement in a chronic consumer of Ritalin.”

“The connection between stimulants, cardiovascular disability, and death has long been documented in the medical literature,” she states.

However, no slow down in prescribing rates for these drugs is likely. In 2005, according to a December 15, 2006, report by Research and Markets, the value of the ADHD market was $2.6 billion, and it is now the 9th largest segment of the CNS market with growth of 8% year-on-year. Approximately 90% of global sales were derived from the US in 2005, and by 2012, global sales are forecast to reach $4.3 billion.

In February 2007, the FDA finally directed the drug makers to develop Patient Medication Guides to inform patients about the adverse effects of Adderall, Concerta, Daytrana, Desoxyn, Dexedrine, Focalin, Metadate CD, Methylin, Ritalin and Strattera.

However, experts say children are being damaged by ADHD drugs in ways that will never show up in a pamphlet. According to child psychiatrist Dr Stefan Kruszewski, “children who are medicated early do not learn to develop coping strategies that work as they move through different developmental stages.”

“We are encouraging a generation of youngsters to grow up relying on psychiatric drugs rather than on themselves and other human resources,” says Dr Peter Breggin, ICSPP founder and author of, “Talking Back to Ritalin.”

“In the long run, we are giving our children a very bad lesson,” he warns, “that drugs are the answer to emotional problems.”

“The problem with the diagnostic assessment of ADHD,” Dr Kruszewski explains, “is that the prescreening statement is so inclusive that virtually every child meets prescreening criteria and therefore every child, under prevailing treatment modalities, becomes eligible for ‘chronic’ medication therapies.”

He also points out that, once children are screened, “they become ‘eligible’ for additional screening for conditions such as social anxiety, bipolar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder, and too often end up on even more drugs.”

Dr David Stein, author of, “Unraveling the ADD/ADHD Fiasco,” also warns that stimulant drugs are “near the top of the heap of potentially addictive drugs.”

He says there is no way of pinpointing which children are at risk of becoming addicted, and “psychiatry has an extremely poor track record for treating addiction problems.”

Filed under: 'ADHD', 2007, anticonvulsants, antipsychotics, drugging children, front groups, Kifuji, NAMI, NFC, Spitzer, SSRIs, TeenScreen

World Experts Demand End to Child Drugging in the US – Part II

Evelyn Pringle October 27, 2007

Mathy Milling Downing was a featured speaker at the annual conference of the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology and told the audience that her anger is directed toward the FDA and drug companies, “for their incompetence and lack of concern for innocent children they have helped to kill, my little girl included.”

Her 12-year-old daughter, Candace, hung herself from the valence of her bed on January 10, 2004, after being prescribed the antidepressant drug Zoloft for “test anxiety” at school.

Experts in the field of psychiatry and child development from all over the world attended this year’s annual conference in Washington with the agenda aimed at ending the mental health screening programs put in place by the Bush Administration’s New Freedom Commission and the mass-drugging of children with psychiatric drugs.

During her presentation, Ms Downing said she objected to placing Candace on drugs but was assured that Zoloft was safe and did not learn until after her daughter’s death that “up to four children out of every hundred run a risk of dying by their own hand or at least attempt to.”

Had she been given the opportunity to have informed consent on the dangers of SSRI’s, she said, “my child would still be alive.”

“I never would have allowed my child to be placed on a drug with no proven efficacy and a history of possible harm,” Ms Downing stated.

She described how she tried to contact doctors at the FDA numerous times to express her concerns, and no one was ever available to speak to her. She filed a complaint with MedWatch on March 18, 2004, and, “I am still waiting for my reply,” she stated.

“One would think that the FDA would support the needs of Americans over the greed of the various pharmaceutical corporations,” she said, “but that continues to be a pipe dream of mine rather than a reality.”

Critics say TeenScreen, billed as a suicide prevention tool, is nothing more than a drug marketing scheme developed by the pharmaceutical industry and a front group operating under cover of Columbia University to establish a customer base within the nation’s 50-odd million school children for the new generation of psychiatric drugs, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants (SSRI’s) and atypical antipsychotics.

These so-called new “wonder drugs” include the antidepressants Prozac and Cymbalta by Eli Lilly; Paxil from GlaxoSmithKline; Zoloft by Pfizer; Celexa and Lexapro from Forest Labs; Effexor by Wyeth, as well as generic versions of the drugs. The atypical antipsychotics include Zyprexa by Lilly; Risperdal, marketed by Janssen Pharmaceuticals; Abilify by Bristol-Myers Squibb; Clozaril by Novartis, and Geodon by Pfizer.

Best-selling author of “Mad in America”, Robert Whitaker, tracked the profits of these “wonder drugs” since the first SSRI, Prozac, arrived on the market in 1987 and found a tremendous rise in the cost to taxpayers. In 1987, psychotropic medication expenditures were about $1 billion, but by 2004, in a 40-fold increase, the cost had risen to $23 billion.

According to Mr Whitaker’s analysis, global sales of antipsychotics went from $263 million in 1986 to $8.6 billion in 2004, and antidepressant sales rose from $240 million in 1986 to $11.2 billion in 2004.

In the paper, “Psychiatric Drugs and the Astonishing Rise of Mental Illness in America,” published in the Spring 2005 issue of the Journal of Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry, Mr Whitaker also reports that, in addition to breaking sales records, within 10 years on the market, “Prozac quickly took up the top position as America’s most complained about drug.” He further states:

“By 1997, 39,000 adverse-event reports about it had been sent to MedWatch. These reports are thought to represent only 1% of the actual number of such events, suggesting that nearly 4 million people in the US had suffered such problems, which included mania, psychotic depression, nervousness, anxiety, agitation, hostility, hallucinations, memory loss, tremors, impotence, convulsions, insomnia and nausea.”

According to the paper, “It is well-known that all of the major classes of psychiatric drugs – anti-psychotics, anti-depressants, benzodiazepines, and stimulants for ADHD – can trigger new and more severe psychiatric symptoms in a significant percentage of patients.”

Ms Downing has been on a non-stop crusade to prevent the death of more children since her daughter died and the family’s tragedy is featured in the documentary, “Prescription: Suicide,” which also includes the story of 6 families effected by their encounters with SSRIs and how their lives changed forever. A copy of the film is available on the Participate Now web site at http://www.participatenow.net.

Candace should never have been given Zoloft because it was never approved for use with kids. Prozac is the only SSRI approved for children in the US because it is the only drug reportedly shown to be effective in two pediatric clinical trials, a requirement that must be met to obtain FDA approval.

But according to ICSPP founder and leading SSRI authority Dr Peter Breggin, the term “effective” has little meaning because all a drug company has to do is show better results in kids treated with an SSRI than in children taking a placebo and can conduct 100 trials if need be to get the two positive studies. It stands to reason that with 50-50 odds, if enough trials are conducted, an SSRI is bound to do better than a placebo eventually.

However, with that in mind, experts say it’s important to note that, other than Prozac, the SSRI makers have not been able to provide the FDA with 2 positive studies out of all the clinical trials that have been conducted in hopes of obtaining FDA approval for the sale of SSRI’s to kids.

That said, SSRI makers have made a fortune by getting doctors to prescribe the drugs for unapproved uses. A University of Georgia study in the June 2006 Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that 75% of persons prescribed antidepressants received them off-label. The researchers reviewed records of more than 106,000 Medicaid recipients in 2001 to examine the rates of off-label prescribing of drugs that act on the central nervous system and found 75% of antidepressant patients received the drugs for unapproved uses.

“More than two-thirds of the studies of antidepressants given to children showed that the medications were no more effective than a placebo, and most of the positive results came from drug company sponsored trials,” Dr Karen Effrem reported in her presentation at the ICSPP conference.

Litigation against drug companies has established this fact. In 2004, New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer brought fraud charges against Glaxo for hiding studies that “not only failed to show any benefit for the drug in children but demonstrated that children taking Paxil were more likely to become suicidal than those taking a placebo.” Two months later, Glaxo agreed to pay $2.5 million to settle the charges.

Mr Spitzer pointed out that Paxil was never approved to treat any condition in children, and yet doctors prescribed the drug to kids two million times in 2002, the same year that Paxil became Glaxo’s top seller with $3.8 billion in sales.

On November 1, 2006, the Associated Press reported that Glaxo “has agreed to pay $63.8 million to settle a lawsuit’s claims that it promoted its antidepressant drug Paxil for use by children and adolescents while withholding negative information about the medication’s safety and effectiveness.”

Critics say it’s not difficult to track the industry money involved in the promotion of TeenScreen. The program’s Executive Director, Laurie Flynn, was the Executive Director of National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) for 16 years, which bills itself as a patient advocacy group, but in reality is the most heavily industry-funded front group in the US.

Mother Jones Magazine obtained NAMI documents for the period between 1996 and mid-1999, while Ms Flynn was running the show, which revealed that NAMI received a total of $11.72 million during that 3-year period from 18 drug companies, including Janssen, $2.08 million; Novartis, $1.87 million; Pfizer, $1.3 million; Abbott Laboratories, over $1.24 million; Wyeth-Ayerst, $658,000, and Bristol-Myers Squibb, $613,505.

NAMI’s top donor during that period was none other than Lilly, the maker of Prozac and Zyprexa, which coughed up a total of $2.87 million out of the goodness of its heart.

Ms Flynn also wrote an article promoting TeenScreen entitled, “Before Their Time: Preventing Teen Suicide,” in which she stated: “The TeenScreen Program developed 10 years ago by Columbia University and offered in partnership with the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill helps communities across the nation identify teens with mental illness who might be at risk for suicide.”

If TeenScreen is “offered in partnership” with NAMI, critics say, it goes without saying that millions of dollars of drug company money was invested in the program.

The efforts to implement TeenScreen by use of “this partnership” cannot be understated. A video-taped presentation at the annual convention of NAMI, obtained by researcher Sue Weibert, shows the TeenScreen crew telling the army of NAMI members from all across the country that helping set up TeenScreen might require contacting a child’s insurance company to check on coverage or driving a child to an appointment with a psychiatrist.

The video also shows the presenter passing around a notebook for signatures from members who would be willing to act as volunteers and rise up against anyone who speaks out against TeenScreen.

The presenter also explains the importance of bribing kids with movie coupons, pizza or other perks, because parents won’t agree to allow the children to be screened, so they need to win the kids over first and send them home to talk the parents.

Early on, NAMI and TeenScreen did not even hide the fact that drug money was funding the screening. In June 2002, the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Update Newsletter reported that NAMI and Columbia University sponsored the screening of 170 Nashville students with TeenScreen and that the survey was funded by grants from AdvoCare and Eli Lilly.

But two years later, in March 2004, Ms Flynn appeared at a congressional hearing trying to drum up the allocation of tax dollars to set up TeenScreen in public schools. During her testimony, she as much as defined the customer base the drug companies were after when she told the lawmakers that, “close to 750,000 teens are depressed at any one time, and an estimated 7-12 million youth suffer from mental illness.”

On September 27, 2007, psychologist Michael Shaughnessy, professor in Educational Studies at the Eastern New Mexico University and columnist for the educational news and information site, EdNews.org, was interviewed about his views on TeenScreen by Doyle Mills, an independent researcher in Clearwater, Florida who was instrumental in blocking TeenScreen from setting up shop in schools in Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties, two of Florida’s most populated counties, and has published several articles critical of TeenScreen.

Mr Mills shared his interview with Dr Shaughnessy at the ICSPP conference, in which the Professor called TeenScreen “a program aimed at locating, identifying and procuring new customers for the mental health industry.”

He says TeenScreen is a creation of psychiatrist David Shaffer, a paid spokesman for Lilly and paid consultant for drug companies Hoffman la Roche, Wyeth and Glaxo.

TeenScreen started out by claiming the program was free and required no government funding. But as it turns out, taxpayers are funding this marketing scheme from start to finish. Government money is being used to set up TeenScreen in schools all over the US and tax dollars are paying not only for the follow-up visits to prescribing shrinks but also for the majority of drugs prescribed.

The pilot programs of TeenScreen in five counties in Ohio were funded by five $15,000 grants allocated by mental health boards within the Ohio Department of Mental Health.

Medicaid record show that taxpayers in Ohio are footing the bill for most of the child drugging as well. In July 2004, over 39,000 children covered by Medicaid were found to be taking drugs for depression, anxiety, delusions, hyperactivity and violent behavior, and Medicaid spent more than $65 million for mental health drugs prescribed to children in 2004, according to an investigation by the Columbus Dispatch.

The massive drugging of patients covered by public health care programs is similar in states all across the US. In 5 years, prescription costs for Iowa Medicaid increased 82.5%, and by class, antipsychotics reflected the largest increase for mental health drugs.

In 2005, while the average cost for a first generation antipsychotic to Medicaid was only $36 a month, a month’s supply for a new antipsychotics cost between $100 – $1,000, according to the December 8, 2005, Mental Health Subcommittee Report to the Medical Assistance Pharmaceutical and Therapeutics Committee.

For the record, TeenScreen is not free, and it is costing tax payers a bundle. On November 17, 2004, the University of South Florida announced the receipt of a grant of $98,641 from the US Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to expand the TeenScreen program in the Tampa Bay area.

Florida Medicaid is also being bilked. On July 29, 2007, the St Petersburg Times reported that, in the last 7 years, the cost to taxpayers for atypicals prescribed to kids rose nearly 500%, and on average it cost Medicaid nearly $1,800 per child in 2006.

The Times reported that more than 18,000 kids on Medicaid were prescribed antipsychotics in 2006, including 1,100 under the age of 6 and some as young as 3, even though guidelines from the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration says that, with children under 6, psychotropic drugs should “only be considered under the most extraordinary of circumstances.”

In setting up TeenScreen to screen students in Brimfield, Illinois, “organizing the system and employing a part-time counselor specifically for the program is estimated to cost about $100 per student,” the July 11, 2005, Peoria, Illinois Journal Star reported.

Overall, the “Brimfield High School program alone will cost around $20,000 for the first semester,” the Journal noted.

The TeenScreen gang claims that it always obtains parental consent prior to screening students and that it does not diagnose students with mental disorders.

However, Michael and Teresa Rhoades, from Indiana, attended the DC conference and as a featured speaker, Teresa described how her daughter was TeenScreened in December 2004, without parental consent, and was told that she had not one, but 2 mental illnesses.

Teresa recalled the day that her distraught daughter came home and informed her parents that she had been diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder and a social anxiety disorder.

Michael and Teresa say they were furious to the point that they filed the nation’s first lawsuit against TeenScreen, charging that their daughter was wrongly screened, diagnosed, and labeled mentally ill in a public school without their consent.

“TeenScreen itself is a questionnaire with invasive and probing questions which indoctrinate young people into a belief that all their feelings and behaviors are indications of a mental disorder,” Dr Shaughnessy told Mr Mills in the interview.

He said, “the child is convinced of it, the parent is convinced of it, and then the child becomes a customer of TeenScreen’s local mental health ‘partner,’ which sells counseling or drugs and profits tens of thousands of dollars per child.”

Dr Shaughnessy acknowledged that adolescence is a hard time for everyone but said, “maybe it’s supposed to be,” that’s how we learn.

He says TeenScreen labels the normal pain and uncertainty of adolescence as a mental disorder for profit and asks, “When did adolescence become a disease or something unnatural or deadly that needs intervention if anyone is going to make it through?”

“”What a ridiculous concept,” Dr Shaughnessy added.

He also points out that school records for children are intended to be secure but says, once committed to paper or computer, nothing can be 100% secure. “Normal school records are fairly harmless no matter who sees them,” he states.

“TeenScreen records on the other hand,” he warns, “contain unscientific evaluations which can be taken to mean that the child has a permanent, incurable mental disorder.”

He also says these records can then be used against a child as an adult, to take away his rights, limit his opportunities or “just as a horrible embarrassment.”

“As there is no scientific way to prove that anyone has a mental disorder,” Dr Shaughnessy points out, “there is likewise no scientific way to disprove it.”

He told Mr Mills that this is one aspect that parents are never made aware of prior to allowing TeenScreen access to their children. “Once a person is diagnosed, he may never be able to escape that label,” he warns.

Filed under: 'ADHD', 2007, anticonvulsants, antipsychotics, drugging children, front groups, NAMI, NFC, Spitzer, SSRIs, TeenScreen

Lawmakers Want to End Big Pharma Recruitment Schemes – Part 2

Evelyn Pringle May 30, 2007

The whole idea of mining for psychiatric drug customers by screening all Americans for mental health disorders came to fruition as the result of the campaign contributions by the pharmaceutical industry, which in large part helped George W Bush take up residence in the White House.

To repay his enormous debt to the industry, on April 29, 2002, Bush paved the way for the implementation of the industry-funded screening programs and the mass drugging-for-profit scheme when he created the New Freedom Commission.

According to Dr Nathaniel Lehrman, former clinical director of Kingsboro Psychiatric Center, in Brooklyn NY, in the paper, The Dangers of Mental Health Screening, It is merely one of the “Bush administration hand-outs to the drug companies, so many of which have changed from legitimate businesses into patent-protected rackets.”

The recruitment of children as customers was a central goal of the industry, and Bush came through in helping meet that goal. The NFC’s final report dated July 22, 2003, called for screening every American child for mental illness, including preschoolers, and said, “schools are in a key position to identify mental health problems early and to provide a link to appropriate services.”

To that end, the report says, every child involved in a government program or is covered by Medicaid will automatically be screened under the following recommendation: “Screening should be implemented upon entry into, and periodically thereafter in, the juvenile justice and child welfare systems, as well as in other settings and populations with known high risk, such as the Medicaid population.”

The report also specifically calls for screening programs to be linked to “state-of-the-art treatments” using “specific medications for specific conditions.” A fact not mentioned is that 95% of the “specific medications” referred to were not FDA approved for treating children and have never been tested as safe and effective with children.

In addition, recent studies have shown that, although the rise in numbers of patients taking psychiatric drugs has skyrocketed over the past decade, there has been no decrease in mental illness. To the contrary, judging by the company sales figures, the man-made epidemic is still spreading like a wildfire.

But worst of all, for all the money spent and the stream of new serious side effect emerging each year, no patients are recovering from their alleged “mental disorders.”

The screening program recommended by Bush’s Commission for use in the public school system was TeenScreen, which created a controversy all across the country when the survey began being administered to students without the knowledge or consent of the parents.

TeenScreen claims it can identify several mental disorders. On March 2, 2004, while trying to drum up federal funding at a Congressional hearing, TeenScreen’s Executive Director, Laurie Flynn, testified that, in the screening process, “youth complete a 10-minute self-administered questionnaire that screens for social phobia, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, major depression, alcohol and drug abuse, and suicidality.”

Critics disagree. “The TeenScreen program is a fraud,” says Dr Lehrman. “It makes ‘mental cases’ rather than finding them by giving youngsters brain-injuring medicines.”

The Citizens Commission for Human Rights points out that “human beings have been bumping and bumbling their way through adolescence for a few hundred thousand years, at least.”

“Now TeenScreen and its allies,” it says, “want to turn that right of passage into a profit center of psychiatrists and their allied pharmaceutical companies,” in the November 2006 report, “TeenScreen: Life Saving Intervention, or Orwellian Nightmares?”

In addition, critics say any label of mental illness will have many life-long adverse effects on these children. They will have problems filling out job applications and applying for insurance when they have to say they were diagnosed mentally ill in childhood.

And this will especially be true for those children who have to reveal that the drugs they were prescribed as a child were atypical antipsychotics used to treat schizophrenia or bipolar disorder leading most people to logically conclude that the person has a life-long mental illness.

The atypicals include Zyprexa, Risperdal, Clozaril, Abilify, Seroquel and Geodon, none of which are FDA approved for any use with children and are only approved for treating schizophrenia and manic episodes of bipolar disorder in adults.

Think about it. What do most people think of when they hear the term schizophrenia? Rightly or wrongly, they envision people who are delusional, hear voices, unpredictable and violent. In other words, the person is at least bizarre and at worst dangerous to be around.

And also, there is no denying that such a label results in stigmatism for life, because when do we ever hear that a person “used to have” schizophrenia or bipolar disorder? By design, the drug companies are setting up children to become life-long customers by having them labeled with the most serious of mental disorders.

For nearly 20 years, the drug makers have been raking in profits by promoting the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor antidepressants (SSRIs) which include Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil, Celexa, Lexapro and Luvox, as working better than the older drugs and concealing the association between the drugs and suicidality.

“Parents must be better informed,” according to a report by The Citizens Commission on Human Rights.

“Few, if any, parents faced with the school situation of their child being labeled as ‘mentally ill’ or ‘learning disordered’ and coerced into taking psychiatric drugs, are told that there are many other factors that could be causing the child’s inattention, behavior problems or learning difficulties,” CCHR states.

“Common causes,” the report says, “are poor reading and math skills requiring tutoring, environmental toxins, allergies, nutritional deficiencies, and other easily detectable and treatable physical conditions.”

Special medical doctors can do tests to determine if a person is experiencing an allergic reaction, and diet can also help, the report notes.

Critics who have investigated the TeenScreen program say it is being sold to the public by the funneling of millions of industry dollars through front groups posing as patient advocacy groups. “The National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI),” Mr Kramer says, “pushes suicide screening of children nationwide and receives millions in drug money.”

NAMI received $544,500 from Eli Lilly in the first quarter of this year alone, he notes.

The industry definitely gets a lot of bang for the buck when using NAMI and other front groups. Internationally known expert and author of many books on psychotropic drugs, psychiatrist, Dr Peter Breggin, founder of The International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology (ICSPP), says groups like NAMI hold national meetings that bring together drug advocates to talk directly to consumers.

“They also send out newsletters and other information that praise the drugs,” he says.

“Sometimes,” he adds, “they actively suppress viewpoints that are critical of drugs, for example, by discouraging the media from airing opposing viewpoints.”

According to Mr Kramer, the TeenScreen advisory board also has major ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

Psychiatrist David Shaffer, who is credited with the development of the TeenScreen survey, is a paid consultant for GlaxoSmithKline on the matter of Paxil and adolescent suicide and has served as an expert witness in lawsuits against plaintiffs injured by pharmaceutical products on behalf of Hoffman la Roche and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals.

In January 2004, Shaffer co-authored a report in the Journal of the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology that claimed, “SSRI antidepressants do not increase the risk of suicidal thinking or suicide attempts in youth.”

By design, the report coincided with the scheduled FDA advisory committee hearings on the issue of whether SSRI use was associated with suicidality in children, and all authors but one had extensive ties to the industry. In the end, the panel ignored Shaffer’s bogus study and determined that a black box warning should be added to SSRI labels.

A few months later, on December 9, 2004, ABC’s Prime Time Live revealed that at least 100 children in the US had committed suicide while taking these new antidepressants and many more had attempted suicide.

The fact that SSRIs cause violence in some people was also concealed by the drug makers for years. As far back as November 2002, Fox News reported that 7 of the 12 teens involved in school shootings were either taking SSRIs or stimulants or were experiencing the withdrawal effects from the drugs and that the possible drug use by the other 5 shooters was unknown at the time because their medical records were sealed. Columbine shooter Eric Harris was on Luvox.

Critics say it’s no coincidence that TeenScreen leader Laurie Flynn was the CEO of NAMI for 16 years before she was promoted to head TeenScreen.

Under Flynn, CCHR reports, NAMI became a virtual marketing arm of the industry, stating in its Guidelines for the Relationship between NAMI and the Campaign’s Founding Sponsors: “Providers, health plans, and pharmaceutical companies want to grow their markets and to increase their share of the market…NAMI will cooperate with these entities to grow the market by making persons aware of the issues involving severe brain disorders…and by helping persons to adhere to their treatment plans.”

An Indiana mother, Teresa Rhodes, has created an online petition against TeenScreen after her 15-year-old daughter, Chelsea, was screened at school without parental consent and was falsely labeled with not one but 2 mental illnesses, obsessive-compulsive disorder and social anxiety disorder. People wishing to sign the petition can do so by clicking on this link http://www.petitiononline.com/TScreen/petition.html.

Mr Kramer says the petition is an excellent way to educate people about TeenScreen because it conveys many of the facts about mental health screening and can be printed off and presented to school board members and local, state and federal legislators.

Activist Vince Boehm has been advocating against screening and the drugging of children for more years than he would like to count. However, he got especially upset recently while watching a discussion on TV about the positive business outlook for the sale of psychiatric drugs to children.

“I was listening to the Bloomberg Business Channel recently,” he says, “and caught an interview with a drug company sales executive.”

“He was talking about how his market share for psychiatric drugs was booming in the pediatric market,” he recalled.

“Then I thought about the children,” Vince said and screamed at the TV, “You jackass! (I actually used a somewhat stronger expletive), these are not ‘market shares’ they are kids!”

According to Laurie Yorke, “Pandora’s Box is an understatement when it comes to mental health screening.”

Laurie is a Registered Nurse whose son was labeled mentally ill and prescribed Paxil and experienced a severe withdrawal syndrome when he stopped taking the drug.

“I think one thing that is never mentioned with TeenScreen,” she states, “is how is the school going to handle a child who has been labeled?”

“What if a child is diagnosed with an ‘anxiety disorder,’ she points out. “Is the school prepared to provide home instruction, smaller classrooms, or whatever is required to educate that child?”

“I bring this up,” she notes, “because Ryan’s school denied his withdrawal from Paxil, accused me of ‘working the system’ and attacked my reputation to all who would listen and finally withdrew his home instruction.”

As a result, Laurie says, her son withdrew from high school altogether. “If this is how they treat someone who is ‘labeled,’” she asks, “how are they going to provide an education for all of those who are being labeled because of TeenScreen?”

In addition, she points out, “how are they going to handle all the children suffering from adverse effects from a drug that they have been prescribed as a result of TeenScreen?”

On May 17, 2007, Laurie testified at a hearing in support of a New Jersey legislative bill that requires physicians and other prescribers to obtain informed consent from parents or guardians of minors who are prescribed psychotropic medication with “black box warnings,” to include informing the parent or guardian of all the potential adverse events associated with the drug.

The bill specifies that a physician or other authorized prescriber who prescribes a medication in violation of this act shall be subject to disciplinary action by the State Board of Medical Examiners. The bill was approved by the State Assembly’s Consumer Affairs Committee.

Before allowing children to take SSRIs, Mr Kramer recommends that at the very least, everyone should get educated on the black box warning which states: “Antidepressants increase the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in children and adolescents.”

“This FDA warning alone,” he notes, “should be a wake-up call for any true suicide prevention effort.”

The Alliance for Human Research Protection is taking activism a step further by kicking off a campaign urging restrictions on off-label use of all drugs that carry black box warnings.

“Inasmuch as these drugs are deemed by the FDA to carry life-threatening risks of harm,” says AHRP director Vera Hassner Sharav, “their use should be restricted and off-label prescribing of these drugs should be off-limits!”

Bush’s plan for screening the nation’s roughly 36 million senior citizens is set up through the “Positive Aging Act of 2005.” The Act provides federal tax dollars for community-based outreach teams to hunt down the elderly wherever they can be found whether it be at senior citizen centers, adult day care programs, or assisted living facilities.

Filed under: 2007, drugging children, front groups, NAMI, NFC, TeenScreen, TMAP

TeenScheme Sets The Record Wrong

Evelyn Pringle July 2005

On July 6, 2005, TeenSceen’s Web Site posted the following statement: “Recently, TeenScreen has seen growing amounts of inaccurate, intentionally deceptive misinformation about mental health screening and the TeenScreen Program proliferating primarily through one or two individuals on the Internet. Some of this inaccurate information has been posted on other websites.”

In its own defense, TeenScheme addressed several points. In this article, I will limit my remarks to their responses to whether they endorse Bush’s plan to screen all school kids and whether they actually do seek parental consent before screening children.

Here is TeenScheme’s response to the question: I have heard about active vs. passive consent. What does this mean?

Active consent requires parents to sign and return a consent form if they want their child to participate in screening. Passive consent, which is also referred to as waiver-of-consent or opt-out consent, requires parents to return a provided form only if they do not want their child to participate in the screening. When using this type of consent, letters must be mailed directly home to parents to ensure that they reach the intended readers. Local TeenScreen programs often adopt the consent procedures used by their local sponsors or school districts for similar activities. Parental consent must be obtained in order for youth to participate in the TeenScreen Program. The Columbia University TeenScreen Program recommends active consent as a best practice. Currently 85% of TeenScreen programs use active parental consent.

This response almost sounds like TeenScheme is appropriately concerned when it comes to protecting parental rights. However, if it truly does promote active consent as the best practice, a person has to wonder why the Fall 2003, Teenscreen Newsletter is devoted to explaining ways to outfox parents when it comes to the laws that govern parental consent.

The newsletter explains how TeenScreen may be able to get around the “Protection of Pupil Rights Act” (PPRA) that requires written parental consent, by having the Board of Education approve the survey as a part of the educational program.

“PPRA is a federal law that protects the rights of parents by making instructional materials available for their inspection if the materials are to be used in connection with a survey, analysis, or evaluation in which their child is participating and which is funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The law also requires written parental consent before minors are required to take part in such a survey, analysis, or evaluation.”

“If your local mental health screening program is approved by the Board of Education as part of the educational program, you are not required to get active parental consent under PPRA. Passive consent is sufficient in this circumstance.”

The underlying inference in the newsletter is that the process of obtaining any consent is a pain-in-the-butt nuisance, but unfortunately, necessary for covering-your-own-butt under the law. For instance it says: “It is best to recommend that, if passive consent is obtained from parents, then active consent should be sought from participants as a safeguard.”

The Newsletter goes on to say that if schools would screen all children as a matter of policy, the survey could be administered without parental consent:

“Active parental consent must be obtained, however, if a child is going to be removed from an instructional activity for screening. However, if the screening will be given to all students, as opposed to some, it becomes part of the curriculum and no longer requires active parental consent (i.e., if all ninth-graders will be screened as a matter of policy, it is considered part of the curriculum).”

But of course we know that this will never happen because on its website, Teenscheme says it does not endorse screening all kids in response to this question: Does the Columbia University TeenScreen Program endorse mandated mental health screening for all teens?

“No. The Columbia University TeenScreen Program does not endorse or support government mandated screening. The TeenScreen program is offered only to communities that want to sponsor suicide prevention and mental health check-up programs,” it said.

Boy, finding out that TeenScheme did not support the plan to screen all school kids sure made me feel better. Or it did until I decided to go check out a few other TeenScheme newsletters and read about what they pulled in Pennsylvania in order to screen EVERY ninth-grade student in record time.

The Spring 2004, Newsletter states: By implementing the screening process through the Student Assistance Program (SAP) already in place within the district’s schools, the Erie TeenScreen Program was able to quickly conduct close to 1,000 screenings using the computerized Diagnostic Predictive Scales (DPS) screening tool.

“After completing the pilot,” the newsletter wrote, “the Columbia University TeenScreen staff and the Erie School District immediately designed a proposal to administer the assessment to every ninth grade student in the district.”

“Our goal was to screen all four high schools in the district in 12 weeks,” Christiansen notes. “This meant screening an average of 100 to 250 students per week.”

According to the newsletter, “The Erie TeenScreen program accomplished its goal. The team screened almost 1,000 students by the end of the 12-week time period,” it reported.

And it gets better. Teenscheme really hit pay dirt in Pennsylvania. According to the newsletter, in December 2003, representatives of the TeenScreen Program provided the sole testimony before Pennsylvania legislative committees in favor of a resolution that was passed which states that “every child should be screened for mental illness once in their youth in order to identify mental illness and prevent suicide among youth.”

In directing people on what to say while pushing the TeenScheme agenda to lawmakers, under talking points, the newsletter told its promoters to specifically tell them: “We need to ensure that every American teen receives a mental health check-up once in their youth.”

And here’s how the newsletter says TeenScheme got around that pesky little legal matter of obtaining parental consent before screening kids in Pennsylvania:

“Erie was able to use waiver of consent with 1,200 parents of 9th graders by sending the letter on the superintendent’s stationery, providing one centralized number for parents’ concerns, keeping a copy of the survey available for review, and making the principal’s office aware of the significance of returned consent forms,” the newsletter said.

Below is TeenScreen’s answer to the question: “Are individual screening results shared with Columbia University?”

Individual screening results are not shared with TeenScreen staff at Columbia University. Only aggregate data (e.g., total number screened at the site) and qualitative information (e.g., feedback on how the program is working) are shared with Columbia. The aggregate data and information we collect from local TeenScreen sites are used solely for program evaluation and quality assurance purposes.

Do not buy that line for one second. They claim to need numbers for “program evaluation,” I say they need the numbers for legalized drug dealing.

The truth is, the results from the surveys will be fed to the pharmaceutical industry and sales representatives will be dispatched at record speed to specific areas where doctors will be writing out the most prescriptions. There will be a well beaten path leading to each area of the country identified.

Student names are not needed for this marketing scheme, all that is required for success are the total number of kids labeled mentally ill and the specific areas where they live and thousands of new customers will sprout up all across the county. Its a brilliant scheme.

So who are we to believe?

TeenScheme swears it always obtains parental consent and that it does not provide students with a diagnose of a mental illness.

However, a family in Indiana disputes both of those assertions. Michael and Teresa Rhoades claim that the TeenScheme survey was administered to their daughter in a public school without their consent.

They also say claim that in December 2004, their daughter came home one day and informed them that she had been diagnosed with an obsessive compulsive disorder and a social anxiety disorder, after she was screened with the survey at school.

When things go as planned with this scheme, parents are supposed to head to the corner drug store to buy pills each time a new student-customer is recruited. However, things did not go according to plans with the Rhoades family.

Michael and Teresa Rhoades were outraged, and instead of heading to the drug store, they filed the nation’s first notice of intent to sue after learning that their daughter had been tested, diagnosed, and labeled mentally ill in a public school without their consent.

A notice that is sure to be the first of many such lawsuits that will be filed as TeenScheme fans out across the country causing local school taxes to rise as legal fees accrue.

I’m afraid that now that I have seen first hand what lengths TeenScheme will go to in order to outfox parents and label kids mentally ill for profit, I shall have to decline any invitation for jury duty on the case because I have already decided that the young Ms Rhoades is, without a shadow of a doubt, the injured party in this action.

Filed under: 2005, Bush, drugging children, NFC, TeenScreen

TeenScreen – Another Gross Distortion

Evelyn Pringle August 1, 2005

Here’s another gross distortion of the truth by TeenScreen. On its web site, in response to the question, is TeenScreen related to TMAP, the Texas Medication Algorithm Project? It says: “No. … Some Web postings inappropriately and inaccurately claim that TeenScreen is a bridge to medication and hence the TMAP program. This is entirely false.”

“There is absolutely no relationship between TeenScreen and TMAP. … TeenScreen does not endorse any particularly mental health treatment or medication.”

“TMAP … is a medication formulary for seriously mentally ill adults in Texas. The adults served by this program are cared for in public programs. TeenScreen and TMAP have nothing to do with one another.”

That’s what TeenScreen says. Now lets look at the truth.

Simply put, a TMAP (aka, algorithm) is a list of drugs that doctors are required to use in treating persons with specific illnesses who receive medication funded by the government with tax dollars.

Contrary to what TeenScreen claims, this list is not limited to mentally ill adults in Texas. In fact, Texas has a children’s version that apes the adult version and is used for kids in hospitals, foster care institutions, prisons, juvenile programs and every other public program that is funded with tax dollars in Texas.

It all started in the mid-90s while Bush was governor. TMAP was developed by what’s referred to as an “expert consensus” made up of a group of “experts” already known to have favorable opinions of certain drugs, chosen by drug company sponsors, Janssen Pharmaceutica, Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly, Astrazeneca, Pfizer, Novartis, Janssen-Ortho-McNeil, GlaxoSmithKline, Abbott, Bristol-Myers-Squibb, Wyeth-Ayerst and Forrest Laboratories.

In 1997-98, with pharma funding, a panel was assembled to determine which drugs would be used in treating children and decided that the same drugs used on adults could be used on kids. There were no studies conducted to test the safety of giving the TMAP drugs to kids and most had never been FDA approved for use by children.

Experts are speaking out against these lists. According Dr Grace Jackson, author of the new book, Rethinking Psychiatric Drugs : A Guide for Informed Consent, “Outside of emergency & trauma medicine, where algorithms can and do save lives, the use of medical flowcharts and guidelines must be evaluated carefully and critically. This is because the algorithms have arisen from “Evidence Based Medicine” — a statistically based approach to studying treatment effects in populations, rather than a reality based approach to discerning treatment effectiveness in each unique individual.”

The TMAP is still being used to push drugs on kids in Texas, according to an article by the Associated Press on February 09, 2005, “As lawmakers work to revamp Texas’ foster care system, they also are reviewing the use of mind-altering drugs by foster children.”

In October, 2004, the Texas inspector general for the Health and Human Services Commission said his office interviewed staff at three state licensed wilderness camps, which provide care for foster children, and found that the average child arrives on four or five psychotropic drugs.

After investigating the issue of drug use with foster kids, in an April, 2004 report, Texas Comptroller, Carole Keeton Strayhorn, blasted the agency for giving children drugs so “doctors and drug companies can make a buck.”

An update on Texas, comes from noted author Dr John Breeding who reports, “We are fighting off a swarm of efforts to codify New Freedom language into Texas law. Driven by Big Pharma and psychiatry, Texas is a focal point as the Texas Medication Algorithm Project started it all, the same folks were behind the New Freedom Commission, and the end result is more and more folks on drugs,” said Breeding.

TeenScreen’s underlying motive is to recruit customers to funnel money to pharma by drugging kids and a TMAP model, under whatever name it goes by in each state, is the list of the drugs that the new customers will be given. In fact to push the overall scheme along, the Bush appointed New Freedom Commission (NFC) has recommended that TMAP be used in all 50 states.

And it is spreading to other states. In Ohio, the list is called “OMAP” and includes all the high-priced psychotropics such as Paxil, Zyprexa, Adderall, Zoloft, Risperdal, Seroqual, Depakote, Prozac, Wellbutron, Zyban, Remeron, Serzone, and Effexor.

But first things first, they have to get TeenScreen in schools and this is where the NFC comes in. Its recommendations include, “Early detection of mental health problems in children and adults – through routine and comprehensive testing and screening – will be an expected and typical occurrence.” “Both children and adults will be screened for mental illnesses during their routine physical exams.”

Citing recommendations by the NFC, TeenScreen’s Executive Director, Laurie Flynn, reports the Bush plan, “to launch a nationwide mental illness screening program in government institutions, including the public school system, for all students from kindergarten up to the 12th grade.”

While testifying before the committee on March 2, 2004, Flynn praised the NFC for recommending TeenScreen. “I am especially pleased to report that the commission named the … TeenScreen Program a model program for early intervention.”

Flynn’s testimony discussing TeenScreen’s goal of finding students to “link them with treatment:”

“In 2003, we were able to screen approximately 14,200 teens at these sites; among those students, we were able to identify approximately 3,500 youth with mental health problems and link them with treatment. This year, we believe we will be able to identify close to 10,000 teens in need, a 300 percent increase over last year.”

Make no mistake, the lists are being used to drug children and any new recruits will end up on drugs.

For instance, according to a report in the April 25, 2005, Columbus Dispatch, as of July, 2004, nearly 40,000 Ohio children on Medicaid were already on psychiatric drugs. After concerns were raised nationally about the number of kids being medicated, a reporter for the Dispatch investigated prescriptions records paid for by the Ohio Medicaid program and discovered that 31% of children ages 6 to 18 in foster and group homes, were on mental-health drugs. And 22% of kids in detention were on psychiatric drugs as of January, 2005, with many on five or more.

These drugs have never been approved for kids and they have been found to cause suicide and violence. Nearly all the children involved in violent rampages in recent years have been on the antidepressants known as SSRIs.

Christopher Pittman, the 12-year-old who shot and killed his grandparents while they slept, and then burned down the house, was on Zoloft. In describing the event, Christopher said it was like he was watching a show on television and that he could see everything happening but there was no way to stop it.

One of the country’s leading experts on SSRIs, Dr Ann Tracey, explains that people on these drugs, like Christopher, will appear as if they are wide awake, when in fact they are half asleep walking around in a dream-like state.

Despite the testimony of two highly qualified psychiatrists that Christopher was “involuntarily intoxicated” on Zoloft that night, the jury found him guilty, and barring a miracle, this poor child will sit in prison for the next 30 years because a negligent doctor placed him on a lethal medication.

Dr Grace Jackson is against giving kids drugs. “It would be difficult to engage in a form of medical experimentation more potentially hazardous than child psychopharmacology. With increasing frequency, researchers have demonstrated how and why the psychiatric drugs are powerful neuroendocrine disruptors which exert negative effects upon cognition, growth, metabolism, and reproductive functioning,” she explained.

According to Jackson, “The question should not be whether or not American children are being “overdrugged” — rather, the question should be: what evidence justifies the drugging of even one child ?”

State Officials Compromised By TMAP

Allan Jones was an Investigator in the Pennsylvania Office of Inspector General, when the PennMap scheme was set up in Pennsylvania. According to Jones, “TMAP and the NFC represent the deceptive marketing of fraudulent science through the corruption of our governmental safeguards at all levels.”

When charged with examining the receipt of drug company funds by state employees, Jones said, “I began to look at the overall issue of Pharma marketing and immediately became alarmed that the tactics used in marketing to the private sector were being replicated with public employees. Trips, perks, travel, honorariums, consultant fees etc.”

“The most shady aspects of the program emerged quickly,” he said, “the recommended drugs were exclusively new, patented and expensive and were selected by persons with financial ties to Pharma; and the claims of increased efficacy and safety made by the drug companies and State employees, were contradicted by the available science,” Jones discovered.

“The pharmaceutical industry purchased the “opinions” of a few key doctors and the endorsement of a few key state administrators, and in exchange they illicitly opened the market for billions of tax dollars spent on dubious and dangerous drugs,” Jones said.

Pharma giant, Janssen, took the lead in exerting influence over state officials by creating “Advisory Boards” made up of State Mental Health Directors who were regularly treated to all expense paid trips and conferences. By influencing 50 key officials, the company knew that it would have a good shot at getting a TMAP list adopted in every state.

For example, Ohio Mental Health Director, Michael Hogan, and California Director, Stephen Mayberg, are New Freedom Commission members who control mental health services in their respective states, and both are members of a Janssen advisory board.

Hogan has proven to be so useful that Eli Lilly has given him a “Lifetime Achievement Award.” In granting the award it was noted that Hogan had given over 75 presentations at conferences since he accepted the position on Bush’s New Freedom Commission.

According to my ace records researcher, Sue Weibert, every conference that she was able to track down that featured Hogan, was sponsored by drug companies, and the group that organized the conference solicited money from pharma to pay the key note speaker.

Hogan is also on TeenScreen’s Advisory Board.

In Florida, Flynn has Jim McDonough, the Director of the Florida Office of Drug Control, in her back pocket.

In a March 22, 2004 email to McDonough she griped about paying the Florida gang $120,000 a year and not getting enough in return. “We’ve been working with David Shern and USF for 18 months or so and still haven’t got a program going,“ she said, “At this point I’m inclined to re-think the use of our resources. We’re sending about $120k to USF annually. … but ultimately we’re not achieving our goals in the community,” she wrote.

Flynn went on to tell McDonough that she had to find kids to screen and said, “I’m looking for a horse to ride here!”

At this point, the NFC, TMAP, and TeenScreen, working together, have managed to weave together a web of key government officials who control funding for the nation’s mental health services in states all across the country.

By using TeenScreen, pharma has hopes of roping in 7-12 million new customers, according to Flynn’s March 2002 testimony:

“The need for increased … screening is evidenced by the fact that close to 750,000 teens are depressed at any one time, and an estimated 7-12 million youth suffer from mental illness. While treatments are available for these severely disabling disorders, sadly, most children do not receive the treatment they need. Among teens that are depressed, 60-80 percent go untreated.”

State Officials Starting To Get Busted

As it turns out, bribing state officials is really not uncommon. In Pennsylvania, Allen Jones discovered that Janssen and Pfizer had both been courting the same guy, Steve Fiorello, the State Pharmacist. Each company had paid Fiorello as a consultant, treated him to travel accommodations, and provided him with educational grants to promote PennMap.

Fiorello was in a unique position. He was paid about $82,000 to oversee pharmacy operations at Pennsylvania’s mental health hospitals, and he was also a member of the committee that determined which drugs would be on the PennMap list for doctors to prescribe at those hospitals.

When finally busted, the ethics commission charged that he “played both sides; he participated with Pfizer … as to its drug-selling strategies, and he participated on the committee as to selecting drugs for the state formulary.”

A 101-page report said Fiorello had earned money from Pfizer while serving on a panel that chose what drugs would be used and that he improperly took money from Janssen and Duquesne University. The Commission fined him $27,000.

An April 2002 company publication showed that Janssen knew exactly what it was paying for. Under Faculty Bio, Janssen described Fiorello as being “responsible for the formulation of policies and procedures for drug use for ten state hospitals and facilities including the development and implementation of the PENNMAP project.”

Flynn & Hogan – Expert Consensus

So where does TeenScreen fit in here? After all, it insists on its web site that it is absolutely not involved with this list business.

Well low and behold, that’s not quite true. Just look what my talented records researcher, Sue Weibert, discovered in “The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry,” Vol 60, 1999 Supplement 11: under Expert Consensus Guideline Series: Treatment of Schizophrenia 1999.

Here we have none other than Laurie Flynn listed as an “expert” who took part in creating the list. She surely must have forgotten about this.

Flynn and her band of pushers from the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) must be geniuses when it comes to picking drugs because 39 members of NAMI got to cast votes in determining which drugs could be on this list. The only group with more votes than NAMI was academic experts with 42 votes.

Another “expert” who took part in this “expert consensus” process was Flynn’s good buddy, Mr Mike Hogan.

On its web site, TeenScreen claims that it does not endorse any specific drugs. Well the author obviously did not check with its Executive Director because she sure does.

Surprise, surprise! “Experts” Flynn and Hogan recommended the most expensive drugs on the market for the treatment of schizophrenia: Risperdal, Seroquel, and Zyprexa.

No affiliation with drug companies either huh? According to the report, “This project was supported by unrestricted educational grants from Eli Lilly and Co; Janssen Pharmaceutica, Inc; Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation; Ortho-McNeil Pharmaceutical; Pfizer, Inc; Zeneca Pharmaceuticals.”

The truth is, NAMI is pharma’s main front group and is used to implement every marketing scheme the industry dreams up. As its former Executive Director, Flynn was its top pusher for 16 years. The group even admits that its goal is to help pharma “grow the market,” in an excerpt from the its 2000 990 entitled, “Guidelines for the Relationship between NAMI and the Campaign’s Founding Sponsors.”

Providers, health plans, and pharmaceutical companies want to grow their markets and to increase their share of the market. A. NAMI will cooperate with these entities to grow the market by making persons aware of the issues involving severe brain disorders, by giving professionals and providers the NAMI perspective, by bringing into treatment persons who are not being served, and by helping persons to adhere to their treatment plans. (2000 990 is available at Guidestar.com).

On March 2, 2004, Flynn testified at a congressional hearing that in the screening process, “youth complete a 10-minute self-administered questionnaire that screens for social phobia, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, major depression, alcohol and substance abuse.

This is amazing, if Flynn is right, all it takes is ten minutes and a paper and pencil to unearth any one of 30 deep-seeded mental illnesses. I’m surprised they haven’t figured out a way to cut out the middle-man doctor and set up a drive through for kids to go pick up their pills at Walgreens without a prescription. That’s probably in the works.

Experts warn that TeenScreen will do more harm than good. “It is impossible, on cursory examination, or on the basis of the Program’s brief written screening test, to detect suicidality or “mental illness,” however we define it. Indeed, the fears evoked by the process of seeking out mental illness can create psychiatric symptoms,“ according to Dr Nathaniel Lehrman, MD, former Clinical Director, Kingsboro Psychiatric Center, Brooklyn NY; former Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Albert Einstein and SUNY Downstate Colleges of Medicine.

“Searching out those “illnesses,” rather than relying on the troubled to seek help for themselves, violates the privacy of those in whom these “illnesses” are sought,” Lehrman warns, “for those youngsters whose screenings supposedly reveal such “mental illness,” the major treatment will then be drugs.”

“Aren’t eight million kids on ritalin enough?” Dr Lehrman wants to know.

TeenScreen is always bragging that its screening tools are free. Apparently that was also a scam to convince schools to adopt the program. According to a September 27, 2004, email to Jim McDonough, schools will have to pay a fee beginning in 2006:

“The DPS (the 19 minute computer administered screening tool) that TeenScreen offers has been sold to Mental Health Systems … Sites can continue using the DPS, but starting Jan 2006, they will have to pay a few hundred dollars. (The exact prices is yet to be decided) … The DPS will still be offered by TeenScreen, it will just not be free anymore.”

On December 4, 2002, Flynn spoke to the NFC, and explained the cost of setting up one TeenScreen program: “Implementation in just one school district often requires piecing together over a dozen funding streams from the education and mental health fields.”

Think about that for a minute, “piecing together over a dozen funding streams.” So how much are local tax payers going to end up paying for school employees to set up a TeenScreen program in every school?

Something is very wrong here. This is pharma’s marketing scheme, yet tax payers are paying to set it up, paying school employees to administer the survey, paying for “clinicians” and “case managers,” and in 2006, the use of the survey itself will cost money.

On top of all that, mark my word, tax payers are going end up paying for shrinks for students without insurance and Medicaid programs will end up funding at least three-fourths of the drugs prescribed.

As I’ve said before, this has got to be the most brilliant scheme that I have come across in my 2 years of investigating the pharmaceutical industry. Its all profit – tax dollars funneled through kids directly into pharma coffers. Brilliant.

No Laughing Matter

The pharmaceutical industry is taking over the world right before our very eyes. The harmful effects of the drug-makers’ take-over is well-documented in Bob Whitaker’s book, “Mad In America.”

Right now pharma has over a 100 NAMI type marketing front groups in place all over the globe. It has succeeded in greasing enough palms to compromise the few government officials necessary to control the Federal and State funding allocated for prescription drug programs, and it has doctors in every field of medicine writing out prescriptions for expensive psychiatric drugs as if they were the cure-all for everything under the sun.

Its gotten so bad, that Dr Lehrman notes a need for public awareness of the extent to which the American medical profession is being prostituted by the drug companies, “In no other medical specialty has that prostitution reached the depths it has in my specialty, psychiatry,” he added.

Pharma has infiltrated the staff responsible for prescribing drugs in the country’s health care facilities, to boost profits by overmedicating patients, with most of the funding coming from tax dollars, causing state Medicaid programs to go broke left and right.

In addition, it controls the media with billions of advertising dollars so that when it does get busted for hiding harmful effects of drugs that kill people or paying doctors to push drugs for ailments they were never approved for, or shooting poisonous vaccines into infants for profit, or any of the other 1000 money-making schemes that its got going on any given day, the story might make front page headlines for a day or two at most.

It took hold of the nation’s regulatory agencies by making sure to get the majority of government researchers and scientists on their payrolls so that they will readily approve new drugs and then allow companies to make a killing off selling new drugs by hiding their adverse effects until people start dropping over dead.

But most importantly, Pharma has gained a stronghold on every branch of government by funneling a steady stream of campaign cash to politicians to make sure that favorable legislation is passed and investigations of industry crimes are shut down.

Last, but certainly not least, it now appears more and more likely every day that pharma is going to have its way with the nation’s children via the public school system. God help us.

(Records researchers, Sue Weibert and Ken Kramer contributed to this report)

Filed under: 2005, antipsychotics, drugging children, front groups, NAMI, NFC, RWJF, TeenScreen, TMAP

TeenScreen – Normal Kids Labeled Mentally Ill for Profit

Evelyn Pringle August 2, 2006

Despite years of public outcry, based on recommendations by President Bush’s New Freedom Commission to screen all school children for mental illness, TeenScreen is now being administered in the nation’s public school system and children are being regularly diagnosed with one, or more, disorders chosen from the close to 400 listed in the “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders IV” (DSM), also known as the psychiatric “Billing Bible.”

The list of mental disorders to chose from when diagnosing children mentally ill with TeenScreen, are “voted” into the Billing Bible by members of the American Psychiatric Association, and include, among others, conduct disorder, avoidant personality disorder, mathematics disorder, reading disorder, disorder of written expression, general anxiety disorder, nightmare disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and factious disorder.

A mental illness that drew a lot of ridicule recently, is called the “intermittent explosive disorder,” for people who fly into occasional but unwarranted fits of rage.

Critics view TeenScreen is a main components in an overall pharmaceutical industry-backed marketing scheme pushed along by the NFC, aimed at recruiting new customers for psychiatric drugs. The NFC’s report specifically identifies the target population Big Pharma is after when it states:

“Schools are in a key position to identify mental health problems early and to provide a link to appropriate services. Every day more than 52 million students attend over 114,000 schools in the U.S. When combined with the six million adults working at those schools, almost one-fifth of the population passes through the Nation’s schools on any given weekday.”

The TeenScreen survey is billed as a suicide prevention tool, but according to former government investigator, Allen Jones, “Teen Screen is a nefarious effort to recruit our children into the quagmire of biological psychiatry.”

“The program employs dubious screening tools administered by non-professionals,” he states. “It is based on misleading science and diagnostic criteria that would be downright laughable if the stakes were not so high,” he adds.

“While the idea of screening kids for mental problems seems like a good idea, it ends up being nothing more than a Drugging Dragnet,” says Jim Gottstein, an attorney who represents clients harmed by the psychiatric industrial complex.

“The high rate at which we are drugging America’s children with psychotropics,” he says, “is a national disgrace.”

“This is junk science at it’s worst,” says Dr Jan Johnson, MD, “follow the money, the trail leads right back to the drug companies.”

Activist groups against TeenScreen have posted an online petition and plan to send it to federal, state and local lawmakers. The petition can also be used to educate people about TeenScreen because it conveys many of the facts about mental health screening and can be printed off and presented to school board members or legislators. Persons interested in signing the petition can click on the following link: http://www.petitiononline.com/TScreen/petition.html

As an additional bonus to Big Pharma, Bush set it up the overall scheme so that tax payers will foot the bill for the implementation of the TeenScreen program. On October 21, 2004, he signed a bill into law that authorized $82 million to be spent over 3 years for programs like TeenScreen.

From there, the way the scheme is set up, if a child is diagnosed with a mental illness and the family can not afford the expensive regiment of psychiatric drugs, tax payers will fund the purchase of the drugs as well through public health care programs like Medicaid.

The fact is, Bush and most of his Republican puppets in Congress, would not be in office today if not for the financial support of Big Pharma. Drug companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year sending lobbyists to Washington to call in their markers by getting industry-friendly legislation passed.

According to a 2004, report by the consumer group, Public Citizen, drug companies, HMOs, their trade associations and industry-backed advocacy groups spent nearly $141 million on lobbying in 2003, and deployed over 950 lobbyists to do their bidding on Capitol Hill and at the White House.

In 2003, the top 10 drug makers and trade associations spent $55.8 million on lobbying, accounting for 60% of the industry’s total lobbying expenditures. A record 24 companies and trade groups each spent $1 million, or more, on lobbying in 2002.

However, spending on lobbying is a drop in the bucket when compared with the $35.9 billion in profits recorded in 2003, by the 10 top companies. The industry soared past all other sectors, with profits five-and-a-half times greater than the median for industries represented in the Fortune 500.

And, the efforts to influence lawmakers have not been limited to lobbying. Since 1997, the top 25 drug companies with the highest lobbying expenditures, also gave $48.6 million in campaign contributions, with 80% going to Republicans.

According to concerned citizen Barbara Becker, “TeenScreen and similar projects are nothing more than a stealth trolling of the general population for drug consumers.”

“The roots of these projects,” she says, “grow straight from the drooling over additional excessive profiteering by the pharmaceutical industry, with the blessings of too many ever-grateful politicians who also profit from it through enormous pharmaceutical political contributions.”

In all fairness, it should be noted that Big Pharma has managed to cozy up with a few Democrats as well. For instance, Senator Joe Lieberman has been known to pal around with lobbyists representing drug companies that provides large contributions to his campaign.

In fact, according to Joe Conason in the July 17, 2006, New York Observer, Mr Liberman, “has literally been sleeping with one of their Washington representatives ever since his wife Hadassah joined Hill & Knowlton last year.”

“The legendary lobbying and P.R. firm,” Mr Conason explains, “hired her as a ‘senior counselor’ in its ‘health and pharmaceuticals practice.’

One of the firm’s clients is GlaxoSmithKline, the manufacturer of flu vaccines, as well as many other drugs, and Mrs Lieberman joined the firm in March 2006.

“In April 2005,” according to Mr Conason, “Mr. Lieberman introduced a bill that would award an array of new government ‘incentives’ to companies like GSK to produce more vaccines’notably patent extensions on other products, at a cost of billions to governments and consumers.”

Mr Conason noted that the bill drew a critical commentary from by Mr Lieberman’s hometown newspaper, the New Haven Register, titled, ‘Lieberman Crafts Drug Company Perk.’

The newspaper described the bill as being even more generous to the industry than a similar proposal by Republicans. ‘The government can offer incentives and guarantees for needed public health measures,’ the Register said. ‘But it should not write a blank check, as these bills do,” it read, “to the pharmaceutical industry that has such a large cost to the public with what may be an uncertain or dubious return.’

In return for industry support, lawmakers have been very generous when doling out tax dollars to fund marketing schemes like TeenScreen. On September 21, 2005, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced grants of over $9.7 million in funding for the implementation of the TeenScreen Program.

“The Columbia University TeenScreen Program,” the press release said, “provides early identification of mental health problems, such as depression, that can lead to suicide.”

TeenScreen uses a voice computer version of the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children (DISC ), and claims it can show signs of 30 disorders, according to an article by Reuters on October 13, 2003.

On March 2, 2004, TeenScreen’s Executive Director, Laurie Flynn, testified at a congressional hearing and said that in the screening process, “youth complete a 10-minute self-administered questionnaire that screens for social phobia, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, major depression, alcohol and drug abuse, and suicidality.”

The goal mentioned by Dr Paul, is obviously being reached because kids are “flunking” TeenScreen all over the country. According to Anne Yates, from Colorado, when the program was piloted at two sites in that state, at the high school, ‘a whopping 50% were found to be at risk of suicide.’

‘Figures from a homeless shelter,’ she reports, ‘were even more outrageous: 71% of the youth screened were found to have “mental disorders.”

‘You can bet psychiatric drugs were pushed at these kids,’ Ms Yates says, ‘TeenScreen is a feeder line to the drug companies.’

During an interview with award-winning investigative journalist, Kelly O’Meara, officials from the highly respected Association of American Physicians & Surgeons (AAPS), described suicide screening in schools as “a dangerous scheme that will heap even more coercive pressure on parents to medicate children with potentially dangerous side effects.”

Further, they told Ms O’Meara, “even the government’s own task force has concluded that mental health screening does little to prevent suicide.”

Critics say, TeenScreen asks teens about normal thoughts, feelings and emotions in a way that turns them into symptoms of mental illness. Concerned parent, Dennis McLoth says, “it looks like a way to make more young people dependent on prescription drugs earlier in life when all they really need is to deal with growing up, just like we all did before there was a drug for every ailment and new ailment to justify even more new drugs.”

Human rights groups contend children are being diagnosed with disorders based on nothing more than a list of behaviors. Kevin Hall, New England Director of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, notes that ‘unlike medical illnesses that are found through scientific research and discovery, mental disorders are merely groups of symptoms that are voted into existence by American Psychiatric Association committees.’

A May 20, 2006, article on TeenScreen in the National Journal, includes a admission by Steven Sharfstein, President of the American Psychiatric Association, that states: “medical science has no biological or chemical tests that can determine whether a person is depressed, suicidal, schizophrenic, or afflicted with another mental problem. There is no laboratory test that establishes a specific diagnosis.”

Psychiatrist, Dr Nathaniel Lehrman says the claim that TeenScreen can reduce suicides is unsupported by any data. “It is impossible,” he explains, “on cursory examination, or on the basis of the Program’s brief written screening test, to detect suicidality or “mental illness,” however we define it.”

Another complaint heard often from activists is the fact that TeenScreen labels children mentally ill without testing for possible underlying health problems such as nutritional deficiencies, allergies, or other physical illnesses, before initiating drug treatment.

And, the medications the children end up taking as a result of the screening are the most high-priced and dangerous psychotropic drugs on the market, and include selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor antidepressants (SSRIs), like Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft, and Effexor, and atypical antipsychotics, such as Zyprexa, Risperdal, Geodon, Seroquel, Clozaril, and Abilify, and ADHD stimulant drugs such as Adderall, Dexedrine and Ritalin.

In recent years, the use of these drugs with children has escalated. An examination of prescriptions by Medco Health Solutions in 2004, for 300,000 children ages 19 and younger, concluded that for the first time in history, spending on drugs for behavior problems with kids exceeded expenditures for any other medication category, including antibiotics.

According to Dr Barry Duncan, author of the book, “What’s Right With You,” more than 150 million prescriptions were written for antidepressants in 2003, with sales worth more than $14 billion. And he goes on to note that the “rates of depression have not changed for thirty years,” and “suicide rates, despite the millions taking antidepressants, have not reduced.”

In June 2005, the Washington Post reported that despite “a dramatic increase in treatment of psychiatric disorders during the past 10 years, there has been no decrease in the rate of suicidal thoughts and behavior among adults,” citing a study by researchers from Harvard Medical school and elsewhere, primarily funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.

The study found that although people who attempt suicide were far more likely to be treated with antidepressants in 2001-03, compared to 1990-92, the rates of suicidal ideation, gestures and attempts remained basically unchanged, the Post said.

TeenScreen is being used as a vehicle to get kids on SSRIs, even though there has been a steady stream of warnings against treating kids with SSRIs for years, and even though the drugs are not approved for use with children. Back on June 10, 2003, British pubic health authorities issued a warning of a two-to three-fold increased risk of suicide in pediatric clinical trials during testing of SSRIs.

A week or so later, on June 18, 2003, Glaxo issued a warning to British physicians against the use of Paxil in children, acknowledging failure of clinical trials “to demonstrate efficacy in major depressive disorders and doubling the rate of reported adverse events – including suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts – compared to placebo.”

On August 22, 2003, Wyeth sent warnings to UK and US healthcare professionals stating: “In pediatric clinical trials, there were increased reports of hostility and especially in Major Depressive Disorder, suicide-related adverse events such as suicidal ideation and self-harm.”

On December 18, 2003, Eli Lilly issued two letters to British healthcare professionals, indicating that Prozac was not recommended for children – for any use.

During FDA hearings on SSRIs back in February 2004, researchers presented evidence showing SSRIs to be little or no more effective than placebos. Psychologist, David Antonuccio, from the University of Nevada Medical School, was part of a team that analyzed 12 studies and told the committee, ‘Our conclusions were that the advantages of the antidepressants in children were so small and so trivial as to be clinically insignificant.’

‘In order to evaluate the cost effectiveness of antidepressant use in children, the committee must consider the benefits, as well as the risks,’ Dr Antonuccio testified.

‘Clinically meaningful benefits have not been adequately demonstrated in depressed children,” he said, “therefore, no extra risk is warranted.’

‘An increased risk of suicidal behavior is certainly not justified by these minimal benefits,’ he warned. ‘Neither are the established increased risks of other commonly reported side effects, which include agitation, insomnia, and gastrointestinal problems,’ he added.

On July 21, 2004, the Journal of the American Medical Association, also reported that there was a significantly higher risk of suicide and suicidal thoughts during the first 9 days of treatment with SSRIs, and that children who were first starting treatment were 4 times more likely to think about suicide, and 38 times more likely to commit suicide and that children as young as five had committed suicide while taking these drugs.

In the fall of 2004, the FDA ordered drug makers to post a black box warning on SSRIs, the most serious warning a drug can carry. The problem is black box warnings do not stop doctors from prescribing SSRIs to children.

“Unfortunately,” said Senator Charles Grassley, who had been conducting oversight of the FDA from his position as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, in response to the news of a black box warning on SSRIs, “the poor performance data for these drugs has been coupled with the very compelling and heart-wrenching testimony from parents and other public witnesses who identify the medications themselves as triggering tragic and unexpected suicides and suicidal behavior among users.”

“I understand,” he continued, “that the testimony yesterday even included discussions about patients who had not been suffering from depression, yet were prescribed these powerful drugs by physicians who may perhaps have been all too ready to medicate their patients.”

When reviewing studies that had previously been suppressed, the FDA found one trial on the SSRI, Paxil, with a “possibly suicide-related” risk of 6.5 percent, and a 5.4% risk of suicide attempts, compared to a 1.1% and zero, respectively in patients taking a placebo.

In fact, in 2004, Paxil maker, Glaxo, was sued by New York State Attorney General, Eliot Spitzer, for committing fraud by hiding studies that “not only failed to show any benefit for the drug in children but demonstrated that children taking Paxil were more likely to become suicidal than those taking a placebo.”

In September 2005, British public health officials instructed doctors to never prescribe SSRIs to children without providing psychotherapy as well. Physicians were also told to never prescribe the drugs without trying other alternative drugs first, and to not prescribe Effexor or Paxil to children under any condition.

In addition to all the other problems with SSRIs, previously suppressed studies also show the drugs are addictive. In June 2003, Glaxo, removed labels that said Paxil was not habit-forming after thousands of patients claimed they had become addicted to the drug.

Experts warn that SSRIs can also cause children to become violent as well as suicidal. According to Dr Julian Whitaker, SSRIs cause akathisia, a mental and physical agitation that sparks self-destructive, violent behavior, and induce disassociative reactions that make patients who take the drugs insensitive to the consequences of their behavior. This is the type of drug, he says, that Eric Harris was taking when he killed his fellow students at Columbine.

Kip Kinkel was on Prozac, Dr Whitaker says, when he killed his parents and then went to his high school in Oregon, and killed two students and wounded 22 others, and says Joseph Wesbecker was also taking Prozac when he killed 7 people at a printing plant in Kentucky, before taking his own life.

In 2003, seventeen-year-old, Julie Woodward, took a test at North Penn High School, in North Wales, Pennsylvania, that said she was suffering from depression and two doctors convinced her parents, Tom and Kathy Woodward, to put her on Zoloft.

Julie’s parents say they watched as her behaviors got steadily worse as soon as she began taking the drug. On the third day, Julie was arguing with her mother, and all of a sudden pushed her mother down to the floor.

Everyone in the family was shocked because Julie had never been violent before. ‘It was an out-of-character act,’ Tom Woodward notes.

Over the next few days, the usually calm Julie, became extremely irritable, could not sit still, and began pacing incessantly. She also became reclusive, her parents recall.

Six days after she began taking Zoloft, Julie hanged herself in the family’s garage. Since their daughter’s suicide, Tom and Kathy have become activists and have work diligently in attempt to educate others parents about the dangers of SSRIs.

Sue Weibert, is an ardent activist against TeenScreen, and has been investigating the program for well over a year. She recently found that when a school enters into a contract to administer the TeenScreen survey, it must agree to screen a minimum of 200 children per season.

According to Ms Weibert, a recent study showed 33% of the kids screened test positive, and quoting a figure provided by Dr Shafer seven years ago in 1999, the study said the cost was about $37 per child per screening.

So all total, 200 times a rounded off fee of $35 would amount to $7,000 in tax dollars just for the screening. After that, the 33% who screen positive are sent for a “further assessment” at an average cost of $250 to parents.

Screening promoters claim that currently, only one out of every 3 children who are mentally ill receives treatment. “That being the case,” says Jan Eastgate, the International President of the Citizen’s Commission on Human Rights, “with mass screening already in play, if we do not act to prevent this, we can very shortly expect to have 30 million American children prescribed mind-altering drugs.”

Parents are beginning to strike back against schools when their children are screened without their consent. Last year, an Indiana high school was sued for subjecting 15-year-old student to mental health testing with TeenScreen and diagnosing the teen with two mental illnesses, without her parents’ knowledge or consent.

A Massachusetts department of education investigation recently determined that a counselor at the Thomas Hamilton Primary School violated federal law in April 2005, when a student, who was enrolled in a special education class due to a speech delay, was screened for ADHD, without parental consent.

The investigation followed complaints by the mother that the counselor had pressured her to put her daughter on drugs for 3 years. The mother said she did not give consent for a mental evaluation and pulled her children out of the school because of the incident.

Wilmette, Illinois, attorney, S Randolph Kretchmar, defends patients who are violated by the psychiatric industry, and says he is dead against drugging and labeling children with mental health disorders. ‘The great crime of psychiatry and the pushers of psychiatric drugs,’ he advises, ‘is that they have purposely confused us to sell their products.’

‘What the drugs do is disable people,’ he says, ‘it’s just that simple.’

‘They may disable people from behaving badly,’ he explains, ‘but they also disable people in other ways, generally, neurologically.’

He points out that a slow reader or difficult middle-schooler is no threat to public safety. ‘When it becomes popular,’ he says, ‘to neurologically disable children from being disagreeable to their teachers and their parents, we descend into some horrific barbarism, and sacrifice the future of the human race.’

This month, the CCHR issued a report titled, “The Side Effects of Common Psychiatric Drugs,” that explains the various adverse effects of psychiatric drugs and defines the complex medical terms that often makes it hard for readers to understand the side effects. The report also includes the recent FDA warnings about specific drugs, as well as information, they say drug makers have kept hidden for years. Copies of the report can be obtained from their web site.

Filed under: 'ADHD', 2006, antipsychotics, Bush, DSM, NFC, SAMHSA, SSRIs, Study 329, TeenScreen

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