The Bitter Pill

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Suicide Prevention Drug Pushing Racket – Part I

Evelyn Pringle August 6, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No drop in antidepressant prescribing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written for Natural News

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

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