by Evelyn PringleThe customer base the psycho-pharmaceutical industry is hoping to corral through passage of the Mothers Act is the more than four million women who give birth in the US each year. That number was 4,317,119 in 2007, according to the CDC.
The Act’s passage, after eight years of solid efforts, would set the stage for the screening of all pregnant women for a whole list of mental disorders. The bill has already passed in the US House of Representatives and will soon be up for a vote in the Senate.
The definition section of the Act specifically states that the term “postpartum condition” means “postpartum depression or postpartum psychosis.” There is not one word about perinatal “mood” or “anxiety” disorders in the bill.
The transformation of the postpartum language in the Act to further the formation of a new cottage industry for treating multiple disorders can be traced back to websites such as Postpartum Progress, Postpartum Support International, and a site called PerinatalPro, which leads directly to the treatment center owned by the site’s creator Susan Stone.
On January 26, 2009, Susan cranked out an announcement on the internet with the headline: “U.S. Senator Robert Menendez reintroduces important postpartum depression legislation in Senate today!!”
However, in Stone’s message to the pubic the “postpartum depression” in the headline suddenly transforms into “perinatal mood disorders,” and she warns of a crisis of epidemic proportions in stating:
“The statistics we have on the numbers of women suffering from perinatal mood disorders (which range from 12 – 22% in the research) easily exceed the incidence associated with a public health crisis.”
“And remember,” she says, “these statistics, do NOT include the suffering of women who miscarry, endure stillbirths, give up babies for adoption or terminate pregnancies, all of whom are also susceptible to these devastating disorders and whose circumstances are included in the furthering of research and support being sought.”
In her message, Susan reports: “Today, I had the joy of participating in a conference call with the office of Senator Menendez and the other organizational sponsors of The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act where we received a heads up that U.S. Senator Robert Menendez was hoping to reintroduce the bill today.”
While the Mothers Act refers to helping women with postpartum depression and psychosis only, the bill’s top promoters, obviously kept in the loop by the main sponsor in the Senate, clearly have a larger customer recruitment scheme in the works.
On a Postpartum Progress page with a heading, “WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?!” the website’s creator, Katherine Stone, explains that the word perinatal “refers in this case to the period during and after pregnancy.”
“Among the mental disorders women face during this time, there are two main types: anxiety disorders and mood disorders,” she advises.
“Anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and panic disorder,” she reports.
“Mood disorders include depression, bipolar disorder and psychosis,” she explains. Under the heading “Postpartum Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,” she writes:
“All you have to do to be at risk for getting postpartum PTSD is to have the perception of a traumatic childbirth — in other words, even if your doctors and nurses feel that everything went fairly normally, if it was upsetting and scary and unexpected to you that’s what counts.”
She concludes with the misleading statement that, “all of these illnesses are completely treatable.”
Katherine’s bio claims she “is a nationally-recognized, award-winning advocate for women with perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.”
In the Menendez press release on January 26, 2009, there was no mention of “mood” and “anxiety” disorders. If he was not in on this disease mongering plot, he would have told these two broads to knock it off by now.
Drugging for profit
Although no psychiatric drug has been FDA approved as safe for use by pregnant and nursing mothers, the treatment for all the perinatal mental disorders calls for the new generation of antidepressants, along with atypical antipsychotics and epilepsy drugs, now commonly referred to as “mood stabilizers.”
The atypical antipsychotics are Seroquel by AstraZeneca, Risperdal and Invega marketed by Janssen, a division of Johnson & Johnson, Geodon by Pfizer, Abilify from Bristol-Myers Squibb, Novartis’ Clozaril, and Eli Lilly’s Zyprexa. The average price for these drugs on DrugStore.com is about $900 for a hundred pills.
The SSRI and SNRI antidepressants include GlaxoSmithKline’s Paxil and Wellbutrin, Pfizer’s Zoloft, Celexa and Lexapro from Forest Labs, Luvox by Solvay, Wyeth’s Effexor and Pristiq, and Lilly’s Prozac, Cymbalta, and Symbyax, a pill with Zyprexa and Prozac combined. The price of these drugs, on average, is about $300 for ninety pills at DrugStore.com.
On March 23, 2009, Philip Dawdy reported on the popular website Furious Seasons, that “in a sign of just how bizarre things have gotten in DC, the FDA today approved Symbyax for treatment resistant depression, meaning depression that hasn’t responded to two anti-depressants.”
“So the FDA just approved a drug that’s known to cause diabetes, epic weight gain and suicidality to treat depression,” he said. “This makes so much sense!”
The antipsychotics are now the top money-makers. In overall prescription sales in the US, they led all classes of drugs in 2008, with sales of $14.6 billion, according to IMS Health. Anticonvulsants came in fourth with $11.3 billion in sales, followed by antidepressants at fifth with sales of $9.6 billion.
The Epilepsy Foundation estimates that one million women in the US have epilepsy, but the number of women taking anticonvulsants is reported to be two to three times higher than women with epilepsy. The prices for these drugs can run as high as $929 for 180 tablets of Glaxo’s Lamictal, and $1170 for 180 tablets of J&J’s Topamax.
Numerous recent reports have linked the use of drugs such as Depakote, Neurontin, Lamictal and Tegretol with not only suicide but also birth defects, including heart defects, brain damage, and mental retardation.
Big Pharma funds Mothers Act supporters
As of April 9, 2009, the groups supporting the Mother’s Act listed on PerinatalPro with Big Pharma funding traceable through their annual reports and the grant reports of Eli Lilly and Pfizer for 2007 and 2008, include the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Psychiatric Association, Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs, Children’s Defense Fund, Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, March of Dimes, Mental Health America (MHA), National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI), National Association of Social Workers, National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, and the Suicide Prevention Action Network USA.
Pfizer’s 2008 grant report shows the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs, received $10,000 for “General Operating Support.” Florida’s Bureau of Maternal and Child Health received funding from Lilly and Pfizer to launch a three-pronged maternal depression awareness initiative consisting of education, screening and advocacy, according to the July, 2005 paper, Improving Maternal and Infant Mental Health: Focus on Maternal Depression, by Ngozi Onunaku.
Collaborating partners also included the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, University of Miami, and Florida’s Department of Mental Health, Onunaku reports. Public awareness efforts reached the Florida State Legislature, who passed a resolution to establish April as women’s depression screening month.
Onunaku listed the Lilly and Pfizer funded Florida project as an example of state and community efforts that may be useful in reaching the goal of increasing maternal depression awareness. In the paper, he reported the following:
“Prenatal depression occurs during pregnancy when mothers-to-be experience hormonal and biological changes, stress, and the demands of pregnancy. Approximately 14-25% of pregnant women have enough depressive symptoms to meet the criteria for a clinical diagnosis.
“The use of medication to treat maternal depression is controversial; there is concern about mothers taking medication during pregnancy and after delivery, especially while breastfeeding. Research suggests that infant development is not adversely affected by certain kinds of medication.
“There is equal consideration regarding the possible risks posed to a child whose mother is severely depressed and needs medication but remains untreated.
In 2008, Lilly gave the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists $16,000, and a $2,000 donation was made in the third quarter of 2007.
Lilly gave the American Psychiatric Association grants worth more than $600,000 in both the first and second quarters of 2008. In 2007, the group received over $400,000 from Lilly. The drug maker gave roughly $450,000 more to the American Psychiatric Foundation for the APA fellowship program. Pfizer donated more than $700,000 to the “non-profit” APA in 2008.
The National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare is described as “a non-profit association representing 1,300 mental health and addictions treatment and rehabilitation organizations,” on its website. This gang received $200,000 from Lilly in the first quarter of 2008, and another $215,000 in the fourth quarter.
Mother’s Act supporter, Suicide Prevention Action Network USA, has merged with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, according to a November 6, 2008 press release announcement.
A year earlier, Emory University reported that Charles Nemeroff had been elected president of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and would begin serving his three-year tenure in January 2008.
Emory’s press release noted that Nemeroff had served on the AFSP’s national board of directors 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 about the same time frame between 2000 and 2007, Senator Charles Grassley’s Senate Finance Committee investigation found that Nemeroff had earned more than $2.8 million from drug companies, but failed to disclose at least $1.2 million to Emory.
On November 3, 2008, Dr Bernard Caroll summed up Nemeroff’s fall from grace on the Healthcare Renewal website as follows:
“The fallout to date includes his severance from several NIH-funded projects at Emory University School of Medicine, a freeze of NIH funding for a major center grant, and his stepping down from Emory’s chair of psychiatry while an internal investigation proceeds.”
Dr. Nemeroff’s credibility is under a cloud, to say the least, and his influence is rapidly waning. … In the hardnosed, commercial world of Continuing Medical Education, for instance, the signs are that Dr. Nemeroff is toast. Whereas he once coordinated multi-city traveling CME road shows and a parade of spots on CME websites like Medscape, his profile now is suffering. Go to this Medscape website, for instance. You will find that his current Expert Viewpoint spots are missing, replaced by the message, “This article is temporarily unavailable.”
Nemeroff’s Bio on the Emory Website on December 22, 2008 listed his Clinical Interests as: “Depression and antipsychotic pharmacological therapy, social phobias, fetal effects of pre- and post-natal drug therapy, depression, mood disorders, antipsychotic therapy.”
Lilly’s 2008 grant report shows the Suicide Prevention Action Network USA received one $10,000 grant and another $70,000 grant. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention also received three grants worth $78,000.
Lilly’s 2007 report shows the Action Network received $10,000 in one quarter and $70,000 in another. The Foundation got $25,000 in 2007. The 2004 spring issue of USA’s Network News reports that: “Network News is funded by a grant from the Eli Lilly and Company Foundation.”
The Summer 2005 Network News noted that “Donations Sustain SPAN USA.”
The donor list shows Pfizer gave over $10,000. The group received more than $1,000 from Bristol-Meyers, Janssen, and Novartis. Forest Pharmaceuticals gave over $500.
The 2006 Spring Network News announced the “Friend for Life” sponsors. Forest and the industry’s trade group, PhRMA donated over $15,000. Pfizer gave between $10,000 and $14,999. Solvay was listed as giving between $6,000 and $9,999 and companies that gave between $2,000 and $5,999 were AstraZeneca and Bristol-Myers. J&J, Lilly and Novartis each donated between $500 and $1,999.
As expected, the two most notorious front groups, NAMI and MHA, received the most money from psychiatric drug makers. NAMI’s annual reports list about every drug company on the planet as a corporate partner without specifying how much each donated. But the grant reports of Lilly and Pfizer for 2007 and 2008 show NAMI groups received millions of dollars from those two drug makers alone.
In the fourth quarter of 2008, Pfizer gave NAMI a grant of $132,000 to fund a campaign that best describes the drug maker’s goal called the “Campaign for the Mind of America.” In the third quarter, Pfizer doled out another $225,000 to fund the same campaign.
Lilly is also funding the Campaign for the Mind, with grants of $450,000 in both 2007 and 2008. Lilly also provides extra funding to NAMI groups all over the country for the “Walk for the Mind of America.” In 2007, walking money totaled $17,000 in the first quarter, $11,500 in the second, and $13,000 for the third and fourth combined. In 2008, Lilly’s “Walk for the Mind” quarterly totals were $11,500, $24,000, $12,500 and $2,000.
In 2007, NAMI presented a $50,000 “Mind of America Scientific Research Award” to Dr A John Rush. He also landed on the Grassley hit list last fall for not disclosing drug company money to the University of Texas.
On April 6, 2009, Senator Grassley sent a letter to NAMI asking for the disclosure of all funding from drug makers and industry created foundations over the past few years.
Mental Health America groups also received millions of dollars from Pfizer and Lilly alone in 2007 and 2008. This group runs a “Campaign for America’s Mental Health” and received grants of $200,000 and $300,000 in 2008 from Pfizer to fund it. Lilly gave $300,000 to fund this Campaign in 2007.
MHA’s 2006 annual report shows the group received over $1 million each from Lilly, Bristol-Myers, and Wyeth. Janssen and Pfizer gave between $500,000 and $1,000,000, and AstraZeneca and Forest donated between $100,000 and $499,000. Glaxo gave between $50,000 and $100,000 in 2006.
The most troubling donation to this Mothers Act supporter is a $20,000 Pfizer grant to a Georgia group to fund: Project Healthy Moms: Education for Prevention/Treatment for Perinatal Depression Disorders, which apparently ended up, at least in part, in the pocketbook of Katherine Stone.
The Georgia group’s June 8, 2008 e-news said the grant was for: “Project Healthy Moms: What You Need To Know About Perinatal Mood Disorders.”
The $20,000 funded 1-hour speaking events with Katherine, “aimed at educating practitioners and the general public throughout Georgia about prevention of and treatment for such illnesses as ante partum depression, postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety/OCD and postpartum psychosis,” the newsletter said.
Katherine was described as a “former postpartum OCD sufferer and author of Postpartum Progress, the most widely-read blog in the United States on postpartum mood disorders.”
E-news said attendees would learn: “One size does NOT fit all: Why postpartum depression is just part of a spectrum of mood disorders women may experience & what to look for.”
The newsletter only listed 5 scheduled events but told readers to contact Katherine directly by email or phone to schedule more. E-news did acknowledge that: “This special hour of learning is made possible by a grant from Pfizer,” but listed no amount.
The leaders of these “non-profits” are also making out like bandits. In 2006, NAMI’s top dog, Michael Fitzpatrick, had a salary of $212,281, and $10,090 in employee benefit contributions and deferred compensation plans, for a 35-hour work week.
MHA’s 2002 tax returns show the CEO and President, Michael Faenza, received compensation of $306,727, and another $35,275 in contributions to employee benefit plans and deferred compensation that year, for a 35 hour work week.
The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance received $37,510 from Lilly in 2007 and $20,000 in 2008. This group provides live links to form letters that can be filled in and sent to Congress members asking them to vote for the Mother’s Act. The two Stone gals provide links to the Mothers Act alerts put out by the Alliance on their websites.
The group’s 2007 Annual Report shows this non-profit received between $150,000 and $499,000 from AstraZeneca, Pfizer, and Wyeth. Abbott, Cyberonics, Lilly, Forest, Glaxo, Organon, and Otsuka American Pharmaceuticals gave between $10,000 and $149,999.
The report also notes that a “First-ever DBSA Hope Award” for lifetime achievement was presented to Frederick Goodwin. Back in August 2002, the speakers at the annual conference of the Alliance included three stars from the Grassley hit list, Goodwin, Nemeroff and Joseph Beiderman.
The front groups team up with a “non-profit” called “Screening for Mental Health,” to carry out mental illness screening days all over the country every year. Their websites also provide live links to internet screening programs set up by this firm.
Up to 2008, the SMH had received close to $5 million from drug companies. Lilly gave the firm $124,000 in 2007 and $100,000 in 2008.
Finally, the Children’s Defense Fund received a grant for $125,000 in 2003 from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The March of Dimes got $6,500 from Pfizer in 2008, and the National Association of Social Workers also received $7,500 from Pfizer.
Amy Philo, a young Texas mother who survived what can only be described as a postpartum ambush by the psycho-pharmaceutical cartel, is at the forefront of the “Unite for Life” coalition fighting against the Mothers Act. As of April 25, 2009, the Unite coalition had thirty-five orginazations signed on as opposed to the legislation. Needless to say, none of them were listed in the grant reports of Lilly or Pfizer.
Amy was screened and drugged because she got extremely concerned about her baby and had a panic attack after watching him nearly choke to death. “I lived through forced hospitalization, drugging, and four months of being homicidal, suicidal, and psychotic because of Zoloft,” she recounts on her website.
“No mother should have to live through what I have,” she states.
Over a recent three to four year period, Amy found there were 1,031 documented deaths of babies caused by psychiatric drug exposure reported to the FDA’s MedWatch system.
Amy recently learned that the National Association of Certified Professional Midwives has withdrawn their support from the Mothers Act. However, she reports a new addition to the list of supporters is the National Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition. A quick check of their website found the group’s corporate sponsors include Wyeth, Glaxo, J&J, Merck, and Sanofi Pasteur.
(This article was sponsored by the Pogust, Braslow & Millrood law firm in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania)
(Evelyn Pringle is a columnist for Scoop Independent News and an investigative journalist focused on exposing corruption in government and corporate America)