New Fax Campaign

Why The MOTHERS Act Should Not Be Passed

Please go to  http://www.box.net/shared/810kj0b8g7 and  print a PDF that you can fax to the Senate: http://www.box.net/shared/4qx33jhgen

Here is the text of the fax if you want to format your own letter:

WHY THE MOTHERS ACT SHOULD NOT BE PASSED

On the surface, The MOTHERS Act (S. 324) reflects its sponsors’ compassion for mothers suffering from postpartum depression and psychosis. But when one looks closely at the important sections of the legislation, it is clear that this costly and sweeping mental health legislation not only fails the mothers of America, it’s intended to inflate the balance sheets of Big Pharma.

  • The bill omits language clearly stating there will be an evaluation of the large amount of data available on the known risks of antidepressant and antipsychotic medications currently being prescribed to pregnant women and nursing mothers (including birth defects, heart defects, spontaneous abortions, and infant deaths). See May 9, 2009 Vogue article, “Pregnant Pause: With a flurry of recent reports challenging the safety of antidepressant drugs for unborn babies, doctors and concerned mothers-to-be are rethinking the guidelines” by Alexis Jetter at http://www.box.net/shared/deulxo16fp
  • The bill defines ‘postpartum condition’ as only ‘postpartum depression (PPD) or postpartum psychosis.’ The danger is that per these DSM-extracted terms to label women with mental disorders, this is only psychological, not physiological conditions which will be checked for, ruling out discovery of any real physical causes, such as hormonal imbalances or vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and neglecting the treatments thereof. This relates to the issue of “screening tools” in development cited in the bill. Are these merely psychological questionnaires, and who is developing them? Are they pharmaceutically funded?
  • The bill cites various “entities” that will be eligible for grants and for participating in research and/or development of screening methods and/or treatments and delivery. Who or what are these “entities?” Are they pharmaceutically funded? Do they have conflicts of interest? There are ongoing investigations of various “non-profit” organizations who heavily promote or conduct screening. For example, Screening for Mental Health, Inc., and its sub-organization Signs of Suicide, who heavily promote and conduct mental health screening, received $4,985,925 from pharmaceutical companies prior to 2008. The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) receives 56% of its funding from pharmaceutical companies. Ten leading psychiatric researchers (many from prominent universities) have been exposed in the last year for failing to disclose millions of dollars in pharmaceutical payments – yet this bill contains no provisions for full disclosure of conflicts of interest for any “entity” receiving federal taxpayer funded grants.
  • Given that the Senate Finance Committee recently exposed the financial conflicts of interest of the top ten psychiatric researchers in the U.S., it is no small issue that The MOTHERS Act provides no research guidelines for public disclosure.
  • Under The MOTHERS Act’s current language, research will be conducted without peer review – no checks and balances, no one to validate the integrity of the research which then will be used to determine a woman’s mental health status.
  • Simultaneously, without allowing any checks and balances whatsoever on the research, it promotes a national “public education” campaign to include Public Service Announcements and television and radio advertisements, essentially giving Pharma an opportunity for free, federally-funded advertising.

SUMMARY: Without a fully completed, published, and publicly disclosed investigation of the dangers of current methods of treatment (drugs), efficacy of non-drug treatments, and discovery and disclosure of the causes for these conditions, clearly defined and available for review by the medical/scientific community and consumers, there should be no endorsement of a national educational or advertising campaign. There must be no new or massive utilization or promotion of any “screening tools” without first disclosing the researchers, entities, and methods used to develop these “screening tools.”

Therefore, as a concerned citizen and voter, I urge you to vote “NO” on The MOTHERS Act (S. 324).

Sincerely,                                                                                  Address:

Stress Testing The MOTHERS Act

by Kelly Patricia O’Meara

May 7, 2009

It seems these days that everything is a test. Yes, the powers that be have decided that taxpayer benevolence now is contingent upon passing a stress test. But much to the dismay of those being tested, the results may reveal, for example, that the nation’s financial wizards and auto giants are actually bankrupt midgets and unworthy of America’s support.

Given that officialdom has embraced the stress test as a barometer of future viability and success and a determinant for public financing, it seems reasonable to request that other important issues that very personally impact the health and welfare of the American people be subjected to similar stress tests. There is none more deserving of stress testing than the proposed MOTHERS Act.

On the surface, the MOTHERS Act reflects its sponsors overwhelming compassion and empathy for women suffering from alleged mental health disorders resulting from childbirth – often referred to as Postpartum Depression. But when one conducts a brief stress test on important sections of the legislation, taxpayers may find that this costly and sweeping mental health legislation actually fails women of America, but goes a long way in inflating the balance sheets of one of the most lucrative industries in the nation – big Pharma.

For instance, the MOTHERS Act legislation that currently is pending in the U.S. Senate states that the Secretary of Health and Human Services may “make grants to eligible entities…” to deliver essential services to individuals with a postpartum condition. What the legislation doesn’t delineate is who and what entities may receive these grants. Are these “entities” funded by pharmaceutical companies? Lawmakers have not specified what constitutes an “entity” so it will be impossible to know if there are conflicts of interest between those who develop the screening tools and conduct research and the pharmaceutical companies who most certainly will benefit financially from the increased diagnosing.

Furthermore, no research guidelines have been provided for public disclosure. This is no small issue, given that the Senate Finance Committee recently exposed the conflicts of interest of the top ten psychiatric researchers in the U.S. who had received millions of dollars in pharmaceutical funding. Where is the guarantee that the “entities” are not pharmaceutical front-men?

The legislation also allows for the “expansion and intensification of activities” into the research of Postpartum conditions and “evaluation of new treatments.” This is a humdinger. Despite ever-increasing published data and clinical studies challenging the safety of antidepressants and other antipsychotic drugs, there is no guidance provided by lawmakers to mandate that the public be made aware of the avalanche of scientific data that not only questions the efficacy of the drugs available to mothers suffering from these conditions, but also warning of the dangers associated with currently available “treatments.”

The section of the legislation dealing with expanding the research into the causes of Postpartum conditions is wholly void of any guidelines that insure the validity of the research conducted, and provides nothing in the way of public disclosure or peer-review of research before it is launched in education campaigns. In the real world, research is conducted and submitted for peer review. In this instance, it appears that Congress has learned nothing from the ongoing banking debacle and naively believes that the researchers will be on their best behavior – self-policing themselves. This is a dangerous omission in the legislation, especially since the Senate Finance Committee has exposed the serious conflicts of interest that exist between researchers and pharmaceutical companies.

Making matters worse, much of the legislation revolves around funding national education campaigns about Postpartum Depression, including Public Service Announcements and television and radio advertisements. Based on the current language of the legislation, research will be conducted without peer review – no checks and balances; no one to validate the integrity of the research which then will be used to determine a woman’s mental health status. Given that this research will be used to develop questions or tests for screening new mothers for possible mental disorders, one might find it important to know that the research has integrity and has been validated by the scientific community, free of pharmaceutical largesse. Congress apparently didn’t think integrity of the research is important and there are no provisions to protect women from pharmaceutical driven research.

Taxpayers may also expect that such important legislation would make provisions for some kind of oversight; some government entity that could provide feedback on the success or failure of this mental health campaign. One avenue that may help lawmakers’ determine if these new programs are working is the Food and Drug Administration’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reports. MedWatch collects information about people who have experienced adverse reactions to drugs overseen by the FDA. With the increased drugging that most certainly will occur with the increase in diagnosing, it seems logical that lawmakers would insert provisions in the legislation to annually review Adverse Event Reports collected by MedWatch, especially those relating to drugs prescribed in the treatment of Postpartum Depression. Unfortunately, because the nation’s lawmakers have provided no provisions for oversight, countless numbers of women may be harmed by the “treatments” but will be none the wiser because no protections were provided in the legislation.

There also is the very basic question of why the government is endorsing this sweeping mental health legislation and sanctioning a national advertising campaign about Postpartum Depression when there is no definitive data about the cause of the condition or that it is an objective confirmable abnormality – the scientific standard for disease. Given that there are so many unknowns in this legislation, it seems irresponsible to go forward without reasonable protections in place.

Congress must insure that all research and screening tests proposed and endorsed by this legislation be disclosed for peer-review and consumer input before implementing any screening tests and approving any research to be used in the national education campaign, including Public Service Announcements and radio and television advertising.

Given the documented risks related to the current modes of treatments, including antidepressant and antipsychotics, which are commonly prescribed for Postpartum Depression and documented to cause birth defects and host of other issues in pregnant and nursing mothers, Congress must include mandatory reviews of published research and clinical data on the drugs prescribed for the treatment of Postpartum Depression.

Finally, Congress must protect the integrity of the research by providing strict guidelines to insure that there are no conflicts of interest between the researcher and the pharmaceutical industry.

Without these safeguards, the MOTHERS Act cannot today, or ever, pass a stress test of viability and mothers and their children certainly will be on the losing end of this mental health campaign. Sometimes it’s in the best interest of the people for Congress NOT to act, and until our lawmakers are confident that all legislative precautions have been taken to insure optimum results, this is one of those times.

About the author:

Kelly Patricia O’Meara is an award-winning investigative journalist who authored more than two dozen articles examining the psychiatric pharmaceutical industry during her tenure at the Washington Times’ Insight Magazine. Her articles resulted in record sales of the issues in which they appeared and among the national and international press that have featured her articles are Fox News, the O’Reilly Factor, CBS News, BBC, ABC’s 20/20 and Hannity and Colmes. She is also the author of Psyched Out: How Psychiatry Sells Sickness and Pushes Pills that Kill. Prior to working as an investigative journalist, O’Meara spent sixteen years on Capitol Hill and was the lead investigator in several Congressional investigations. She holds a B.S. in Political Science from the University of Maryland.

22 thoughts on “New Fax Campaign

  1. Неоднократно доводилось читать подобные посты на англоязычных блогах, но это не значит что ваш пост мне не понравился

  2. Please let me know if I can do anything. I had postpartum psychosis and I am against this Act. I was never suicidal/homicidal and was put on heavy-hitters and separated from my baby and left unable to breastfeed. The drugs

  3. The drugs sucked my life away… I had no history of mental illness at all, no anxiety/depression during the pregnancy. I do not see how this Act would have helped me, and 6 years later, I am still grieving over being separated from my son, heavily sedated, and left unable to breastfeed him.

  4. I like that you guys are fighting to keep a population marginally at risk from being screened as we’ve seen how ineffective and cost sensitive it is with breast cancer screening (although the merits may be different in this case).

    I think it is important to note that there is a large group of people who are fighting for postpartum depression to gain attention both in the attending physician community and within the expecting mothers community. These people have been at it a long time and their intentions are nothing but good, it is unfortunate that pharma has decided to pick up their cause for what will basically be a blank check to their organizations. A truly useful campaign at awareness has been hijacked for profit.

    There are much better ways (hello, how many times do you see a Dr before you give birth?!?) to identify at-risk expecting mothers and give them the information and access to social services that can help to determine whether they would be a candidate for psychiatric evaluation.

    This pipeline directly to psychiatrists is a dangerous thing that is going to exploit tons of women in some of their most precious and emotional times. The overmedication of America continues and this is a disconcerting sign of where it is headed.

    I fear for the day they start screening 2nd graders for ADD or depression, the inherent type 1 error in all screening will guarantee a large population of kids placed on medications that are expensive, unneeded, and most likely will lead to distrust of the medical establishment or reliance on some sort of mood controller (read: the massive street market of Adderral and Ritalin).

    Good work Amy…

    1. Yes, really. Why not have OBGYNs observe a woman’s general mood and ask about their emotions? The woman has the choice whether or not to share her emotional life with her doctor, and no mandatory screening test necessary. Just a trusting, genuine relationship between a woman and her doctor.

      ADD and prescribed ADD medications (legalized speed) are nothing but gateway drugs to psychiatry. The kid eventually flips out (because that’s what speed does to people) and then is re-diagnosed or co-diagnosed with pediatric bipolar disorder (at which point, you can literally throw ANY category of drugs at a person).

      The whole ADD diagnosis is suspect, particularly with the added dimension of so-called ADDers ability to “hyperfocus”. Meaning that, when a person with supposed ADD is really interested in something, they are able to focus on it single-mindedly, but if some task is boring and mundane to them, they cannot bring themselves to do it.

      In the words of my very well-respected neurologist, with almost 40 years of practicing medicine under his belt, “Wouldn’t that be everyone?”

  5. I would caution putting psychiatric conditions like ADD into a category of false diagnosis. Of course it is one of the most over-prescribed conditions in the population but I would doubt any more so than pain killers and muscle relaxants as well as opioids like hydrocodone.

    ADD is most certainly an affective disorder that a percentage of the population exhibit, personally I would like to see how the incidence of sever ADD correlate with bipolar or manic conditions, as well as other personality disorders. I think there would be a finding that could open up discussion as to whether identification of ADD symptoms could be correlative with developing these personality disorders in later life or upon a major life challenge.

    1. How are you supposed to do this examination when the people diagnosed with ADHD are usually on stimulant drugs with known side effects that are identical to the “symptoms” of the other mental disorders that the same people are labeled with? Given that the mainstay of treatment for ADHD is a stimulant drug, which can heart problems, seizures and sudden death, there is ample reason to be highly concerned about giving it to children or adults.

      Do you really think the symptoms of ADHD are anything other than normal behavior, much like anxiety about your child’s safety is normal?

      I think failure to sit still in class, and being bored with boring stuff are pretty normal. But what do I know, since I am just a mom of two boys and a former school teacher. I think I would have been bored in today’s classrooms as well.

      1. I think you are talking about symptoms that aren’t ADD at all, the same problem you complain about are the same ones the pharma companies and psychiatrists pushing for medication. The definition of some of these disturbances have been co-opted for unrelated problems and that’s a lot of the problem.

        I have 9 siblings (of which 4 still aren’t 10yo) and both parents and 6 aunts and have been school teachers with over 135 years of teaching experience between them so I guess that makes me an expert too? I don’t think inductive fallacy will get us very far in examining the underlying problems.

        And there are tests for plenty of disease associations medicated v non-medicated. How do you think vaccine safety is assessed or normative effect of damages if figured out? There is a control group and it is no different in ADD as there are people who aren’t medicated that would fall under the guidelines. It would be a classic case-study report which would prove effective if many could be coordinated so a meta-analysis could be undertaken.

        I’m sorry but anyone you find on the fringe (‘this doesn’t exist’ or ‘it’s rampant in the pop’) are blind to the reality that many people face, anecdote rules this argument too often (and the plural of anecdote is not data). There needs to be an agreement of overmedication and a look at what constitutes realistic guidelines for medication.

      2. and exhibiting the symptoms vs having a disease can be assessed as well. As a large number of people in my family deal with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder it is interesting seeing how these decisions and the schedule of medication is decided, one of the more fascinating procedures I’ve seen in medicine.

  6. Tye I’m not sure if we’re even on the same topic. My brain is fried right now. I have complete respect for you and your site and intellectual abilities. But while I am talking about ADHD drug side effects it seems like you are trying to start a debate about all children adhd and whether it exists. I can tell you that the pathologizing of normal behavior leads to drugging with often deadly side effects. From my seat at dinner I’ll just say catch ya tomorrow.

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