“Medical Ethicist” Promotes Offering Ritalin Over The Counter – Dr. Fred Baughman comments

Re: Let students buy brain-boosting drugs such as Ritalin ‘over the counter’ says academic
Date: Wed, 7 Jan 2009 15:54:26 -0800

Fred Baughman, MD, author of THE ADHD FRAUD www.Trafford.com comments on:

Let students buy brain-boosting drugs such as Ritalin ‘over the counter’ says academic
By Daily Mail Reporter
January 2, 2009

Professor John Harris of Manchester University, a medical ethicist and philosopher-not a physician-says Ritalin and other psychostimulants-all basically amphetamines, help normal students study and learn and should be made available to one and all, over-the-counter, next to breath-mints and chewing gum, to help them study.    

As a physician aware why such drugs are “controlled” substances, I can only imagine that we have, in Dr. Harris, one who has had a convincing experience with such a drug, or, alternatively, one who has yet-undeclared income from the manufacturers of such drugs.  How could any newspaper report such a pro-drugging suggestion without asking their source how much he, she or their university had been paid by the  pharmaceutical industry? 

Professor Harris claimed that a sizeable body of evidence showed that stimulants such as Ritalin, Adderall (a mix of amphetamine salts) and
Provigil (Modafinil)  –  described by U.S. students as ‘Viagra for the brain’  significantly improve concentration and academic performance.  

Calling methylphenidate, Ritalin, or any of the amphetamines, ‘cognition-enhancing,’ Professor Harris, references no proof.  There is no proof in those said to have the contrived, faux disease ADHD, and there is, as yet, no  proof in populations of normals.   If “yes” in the short term, what of accumulated side effects at one year? Three years? 10 years–if still alive?   

Harris told the Times Higher Education magazine that the side-effects of these drugs were not excessive and that ‘It would make sense to try to maximise their benefits.’ 

Testifying before The House of Representatives, September 29, 1970,  John D. Griffith, MD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, posited:  -“I would like to point out that every drug, however innocuous, has some degree of toxicity.  A drug, therefore, is a type of poison and its poisonous qualities must be carefully weighed against its therapeutic usefulness.  A problem, now being considered in most of the Capitols of the Free World, is whether the benefits derived from Amphetamines outweigh their toxicity.  It is the consensus of the World Scientific Literature that the amphetamines are of very little benefit to mankind.  They are, however, quite toxic. After many years of clinical trials it is now evident that this antidepressant effect of amphetamines is very brief- on the order of days.  If a patient attempts to overcome this tolerance to the drug, he runs the risk of becoming addicted and even more depressed.”

A 1995 U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Background Paper on Methylphenidate, has this to say: “Methylphenidate is a Schedule II
central nervous systen (CNS) stimulant and shares many of the pharmacological effects of amphetamine, methamphetamine and cocaine”
[p.6]. ” Internationally, methylphenidate is viewed as having a very high potential for abuse and is listed in Schedule II of the Psychotropic Convention” [p.7]. “A recent communication from the United Nations International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), expressed concern about non-governmental organizations and parental associations (CHADD) in the United States that are actively lobbying for the medical use of methylphenidate  for children with ADHD.  The INCB further stated that “financial transfer from a pharmaceutical company with the purpose to promote sales of an internationally controlled substance would be identified as hidden advertisement and in contradiction with provisions of the 1971 Convention.”

“In conjunction with the American Academy of Neurology, CHADD has submitted a petition to reschedule methylphenidate from schedule II to Schedule III under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA)” [p.4].

Nor has the INCB succumbed to enduring pressures, such as those of Dr. Harris, to reschedule them.  

In a prospective longitudinal study of 492 ADD/ADHD subjects and age-mate controls of Nadine Lambert and associates of the University of California, Berkeley “has provided evidence that childhood use of CNS treatment (amphetamines and Ritalin) is significantly and pervasively implicated in the uptake of regular smoking, in daily smoking in adulthood, in cocaine dependence, and in lifetime use of cocaine and stimulants.” [1] 

Studies that seem to have been commissioned, published by Biederman et al, allege that ADHD is a real disease, with substance abuse
disorder (SUD) a co-morbidity needing treatment with Ritalin and amphetamines to  prevent or mitigate the SUD. [2, 3] Here was Biederman doing his best to convince the public that taking substances of addiction early and often was the best way to prevent addiction.  Today he stands discredited by belated disclosures of his ties to industry.  While his so called “research” became the stuff of Novartis ads, they did nothing to change the science given us by the late, ever-scientific, Nadine Lambert.

As for Professor Harris’ assertion that the side-effects of these drugs-amphetamines and amphetamine cogeners are not excessive, consider this the following:  Of  2,993 adverse reaction (AR) reports concerning “Ritalin” or  “methylphenidate” alone, listed by the FDA’s Division of Pharmacovigilance and Epidemiology (DPE), from 1990 to 1997,  there were: 160 deaths, 569 hospitalizations (36 life-threatening),126 cardiovascular occurrences and 949 central or peripheral nervous system occurrences, 6 cases of  “cardiomyopathy,” 12 of “arrhythmia,” 7 of “bradycardia,” (slow pulse), 5 of “bundle branch block,” (impairment of conduction apparatus of the heart), 4 of “EKG abnormality,” 5 “extrasystole,” (a heart rhythm abnormalities),  3 “heart arrest,”  2 heart failure, right,” 10 “hypotension,” (low BP), 1 “myocardial infarction,” and 15 with “tachycardia” (rapid pulse).

Finally, we must all be reminded that figures from post-marketing, adverse drug reaction, voluntary reporting systems report no more
than 1 to 10 percent of adverse reactions.  To estimate the number of deaths for the period 1990 to 1997 due to Ritalin/methylphenidate
alone one would have to multiply the 160 deaths times 100 to get the maximum possible number or deaths and 160 x 10 to get the least
possible number.  For the maximum possible number of adverse drug reactions one would have to multiply 2993 x 100.  It must also be
understood that there are yet to be counted, separate, morbidity and mortality figures for mixed amphetamine salts (Adderall),
dextro-amphetamine, methamphetamine, pemoline, atomoxetine, dextro-methylphenidate, etc. 

Why is the post-marketing reporting of all deaths not required for at least a time, in the FDA-MedWatch program?   Because, the way it
is–grossly under-reporting the morbidity and mortality of all drugs, is exactly how Big Pharma wants it.  And what Big Pharma wants,
Congress provides.  

We are told that GPs in the UK wrote more than 535,000 prescriptions for antihyperactivity drugs in 2007  –  more than 10,000 a week,
double that of 2002.     What effect does Novartis (manufacturer of Ritalin) other stimulant manufacturers anticipate that Dr. Harris’
call to legalize amphetamines and make them available over the counter, next to the chewing gum, will have on their sales?  

References:

  1. Lambert N, Hartsough CS.  Prospective study of tobacco smoking and substance dependence among samples of ADHD and non-ADHD subjects. J Learn. Disabil. 1998; 31:533-544.
  2. Biederman J, Wilens T,  Mick E,  Spencer T,  Faraone SV.  Pharmacotherapy of Attention-deficit/HyperactivityDisorder Reduces Risk for Substance Use Disorder. PEDIATRICS Vol. 104 No. 2 August 1999, p. e20.
3.  ADHD Treatment Discourages Children From Drug Abuse Later USA TODAY – August 11, 2003

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