Relentless and Tragic Marketing: Psychiatric Drugs from Before the Cradle to the Grave

by John Breeding, PhD and Amy Philo

Working with others, we strive to alleviate distress and to support and enhance the personal growth, transformation, individuation, self-determination, and clear and expanded awareness of individuals. Necessity dictates that we also spend a lot of time challenging aspects of the mental health profession that do the opposite—creating more distress, suppressing growth and transformation, violating self-determination, and dulling and blinding awareness. We call it psychiatric oppression, the systematic, institutionalized mistreatment of those judged as “mentally ill.” This essay focuses especially on the ever expanding encroachment of psychiatric oppression to more and more of the population, and to individuals who are less and less in need of actual help. This encroachment takes the form of mass marketing for psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry. One key aspect of oppression theory is the claim to virtue. For psychiatric oppression that claim is the notion that mentally ill people need their treatment; its growing extension is the concept of prevention, that potentially mentally ill people need treatment as well!

The Regressive Progression: Treatment to Prevention

“An ounce of prevention is a pound of cure.” Like all great aphorisms, this one, often associated with Ben Franklin, holds wisdom and is partly true, based on assumption. In this case, one must assume the role of victim of unnecessary malady that necessitates a cure…and that there is a felt connection or empathic relatedness to the one who suffers malady. Where these assumptions are not met, the aphorism is false. To wit, for the giant corporation of Halliburton and its government and military operations group, or for the mercenary army of Blackwater, going to war is worth a great deal more than diplomacy.

Continue reading “Relentless and Tragic Marketing: Psychiatric Drugs from Before the Cradle to the Grave”

One in Seven Scientists Say Colleagues Fake “Scientific” Study Results

One in Seven Scientists Say Colleagues Fake “Scientific” Study Results

Monday, August 17, 2009 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) One in seven scientists report that they have known colleagues to falsify or slant the findings of their research, according to a study conducted by researchers from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and published in the journal PLoS One.

A number of scientific data falsification scandals have emerged in recent years, such as the case of a South Korean researcher who invented data on stem cell research. At the same time, increasing controversy over close industry ties to medical research has called into question whether researchers who take money from drug companies might be induced to falsify their data.

“Increasing evidence suggests that known frauds are just the tip of the iceberg and that many cases are never discovered,” said researcher Daniele Fanelli.

The researchers reviewed the results of 21 different scientific misconduct surveys that had been performed between 1985 and 2005. All respondents were asked whether they or anyone they knew of had taken part in either fabrication (outright invention of data) or “questionable practices.”

Questionable practices were any improper procedure short of fabrication, including failing to publish results contradicting one’s prior research, modifying data based on a “gut feeling,” changing conclusions after pressure from a funder or selectively choosing which data to include in an analysis.

One in seven scientists said that they were aware of colleagues who had engaged in fabrication, while nearly half — 46 percent — admitted to knowing of colleagues who had used questionable practices. Only two percent, however, admitted to fabricating results themselves.

While two percent is higher than previous estimates of the prevalence of data fabrication, researchers believe that the number is still too low. In all likelihood, it reflects both a reluctance by researchers to admit to serious misconduct and a tendency to interpret one’s behavior as favorably as possible — questionable instead of fabrication, or acceptable rather than questionable.

Researchers in the medical and pharmacalogical fields were the most likely to admit to misconduct than researchers in other fields.

Sources for this story include:

Antidepressants For Women of Childbearing Age (What Big Pharma Wants)

Antidepressants For Women of Childbearing Age
(What Big Pharma Wants)

Fred A. Baughman Jr., MD
Director of the National Foundation, March of Dimes, West Michigan Birth Defects Clinic, 1965-1975
Author: The ADHD Fraud

(1193 words)

In the Women Speak blog from Obstetrician-Gynecologist, Dr. Tameeka Law of the Medical University of South Carolina, (MUSC), addresses the question: ‘Can I Continue to Take Antidepressants in Pregnancy?’

Dr. Law’s first obligation, like that of every prescribing physician involved in the care of women-of-reproductive-age is to the physical-medical health and well-being of possibly-pregnant, pregnant, or just-delivered women, whether nursing or not, as well as to the embyo, fetus or baby in the equation.

And yet we find Dr. Law espousing views about psychiatry and psychiatric drugs not consistent with her Hippocratic obligation to assure the physical-medical well-being of the patient or patients—mother and embryo, fetus or child.

Consider at the start that Dr. Law and I, and all physicians, regardless of what specialty we enter—go to medical school for 4 years, study all thing normal (biological chemistry, anatomy and physiology) all things abnormal (pathology, diseases) and, in their clinic years, how to tell those who are normal, disease-free, from those who are abnormal—diseased. The other thing we learn going through medical school is that there are no physical abnormalities-diseases in psychology and psychiatry. There is no such thing as a mental, psychological, psychiatric ‘disease.’ But this is not the impression one gets today as the almighty pharmaceutical industry (big pharma) with its bought-and paid for control over psychiatry, the entire medical profession and its medical schools and faculties insists, commands that all things emotional, behavioral, psychologic and psychiatric be called diseases or chemical imbalances so the public will see no logic but to forego “strength of character,” ‘pulling oneself up by the bootstraps,” love, talk therapy, etc, and commit to the drugs, pills, and ‘chemical balancers’ for ‘chemical imbalances’ of the brain they are, drum-beat, told they have (by virtually all of their physicians, joining the making “patients” of normals) and have come to believe they have.

And now, back to Dr. Law and the pregnant mother’s question “Can I continue to take Antidepressants in Pregnancy?”

Having said “depression affects 10 to 15% of pregnant women (how many million in this ‘epidemic’?) Dr. Law admits depression’s symptoms are “difficult to differentiate from normal changes of pregnancy.” In fact depression is a blue, dark, or melancholy mood to which all human beings are subject, from which virtually all emerge. Appropriately, Dr. Law lists the psycho-social factors that can lead to depression but claims that depression alone, as if a disease, “is associated with an increase in such negative physical outcomes of pregnancy as prematurity, low birth weight, and poor fetal growth.” Has Dr. Law been ‘bought,’ influenced? Has her department? Medical school? Is she stacking the deck in favor of antidepressants, in favor of the psychiatry-big pharma cartel—the biggest drug cartel of all time?

Next, ignoring the well-known physical-medical reproductive risks of SSRI antidepressants, Dr. Law says “overall antidepressants are safe to use during pregnancy” (for mother, developing embryo, or fetus) or while breastfeeding (for mother and nursing infant) and their use has not been shown to cause birth defects” Quite a blanket exoneration—this.

As if a salesman, Dr. Law continues to minimize the well-established, well-known risks of SSRI antidepressants for all women of child-bearing age. She continues: “… approximately 1 in 10 women will have major or minor depression sometime during pregnancy and the postpartum period.” Again, a target population of millions as is the well-worn strategy of “biological” psychiatry.

Contrary to glowing assessment of Dr. Law, numerous studies have shown that exposure to SSRIs late in pregnancy has been associated with complications in newborns that include jitteriness, seizures, respiratory distress, rapid respirations, weak cry, poor muscle tone, and an increased rate admission to the neonatal intensive care unit (meaning, in essence that their life is in the balance). Further, the use of Paxil (paroxetine-Prozac like) during the first trimester of pregnancy has been associated with an increased risk of congenital heart malformations leading the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to issue a public health advisory and require the manufacturer to change its pregnancy category from “C” to “D” meaning the drug has been found to be harmful to human fetuses (refers to the unborn from weeks 7-9 of pregnancy to delivery)

We begin to get a different picture than that painted Dr. Law for the pregnant women of South Carolina. The mother’s symptoms from SSRIs antidepressants can include insomnia, rashes, headaches, joint and muscle pain, stomach upset, nausea, diarrhea; reduced blood clotting increasing the risk for stomach or uterine bleeding; diminished sexual interest, desire, performance, and satisfaction, and, finally, the increased risk that antidepressants will incite violent or self-destructive actions (toward any and all present–family members, the embryo, fetus or newborn). When compared with a sugar pill, a.k.a. placebo, all antidepressants, including SSRIs, seem to double the risk of suicidal thinking, from 1%–2% to 2%–4%, in both children and adults.

And what of this? With all these side effects, SSRI antidepressants are no more effective that the sugar pill-placebo in curing depression.

In December, 2006, pro-psycho-pharmaceutical drugging statement, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said to the women of child-bearing age of America that decisions about depression treatment should involve the obstetrician and the mental health clinician (MFCC? Psychologist? Social Worker?) along with the patient, ideally prior to pregnancy. However, the ACOG recognized the inconvenient truth that “because approximately 50% of pregnancies are unplanned, preconception planning for women with depression will not always be feasible, and treatment decisions about SSRIs will undoubtedly occur during pregnancy,” i.e., after mother and the already-conceived, embryo, fetus, child-to-be has been intoxicated, poisoned by the antidepressant which is not known to target a defined abnormality/disease, not in anyone.

Given the facts above, we have every reason to believe nothing would be better than to return to the un-perverted medical science and ethics of the 1960s and 1970s, which would dictate that there being no such thing as a psychiatric disease, there is no such thing as an essential psychiatric drug, especially not for women who are pregnant or could possibly be.

There is no group or classification of psychiatric drugs proved to be without physical-medical risk, short-term or long, to the embryo, fetus, newborn, nursing newborn, nursing infant, or nursing toddler and, for that matter there is no group or classification of psychiatric drugs known to be without physical-medical risk, short-term or long- for their mother or father or for any member of the human race. Look at the rates of Sudden Cardiac deaths with antidepressants (Whang, et al, 2009), Ritalin and all ADHD psychostimulants (Gould et al, 2009), and antipsychotics (Ray et al, 2009). After all they are exogenous compounds, foreign to the body, with no abnormality to make normal, no abnormality to make less abnormal. They are, like all drugs—poisons.

What’s more all physicians, especially those at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists know this. But knowing this their industry economic ties are such that they, like Dr. Law, can no longer speak the truth, not even to their patients: mothers who will give birth to children—healthy and whole or defective, deformed, subnormal, who–whichever they are–that parent will have to care for all of their life.

To restore both the scientific basis of its medical practice and its conscience the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists should immediately acknowledge there is no such thing as a psychiatric ‘disease’ or an essential psychiatric drugs and immediately re-write its ACOG’s Committee Opinion #354, “Treatment with Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors During Pregnancy,” published in the December 2006 issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology, to read “the best possible, psycho-social-familial management should be assured in every case, eschewing all non-essential (including all psychotropic medications) medications.

Medication Algorithm Project Halted

Received via email:

“TMAP – Texas Medication Algorithm Project (algorithm – guideline) was created by various pharmaceutical companies working in concert. These companies recommended and helped implement a scam where Texas was to pay for the most expensive new antipsychotics, Abilify, Geodon, Risperdal, Seroqul and Zyprexa over the older cheaper antipsychotics. The TMAP scam was exported to many other states.

A 2005 study by the federal government’s National Institute of Mental Health showed that these new antipsychotic drugs, which cost roughly 10 times more than the older drugs, performed no better and had just as many side effects.

The below Texas article describes how CMAP – The Child version of TMAP has been suspended over fears that government Medicaid programs have been influenced by pharmaceutical companies. ”

Letters to the editor here:

The Dallas Morning News
August 18, 2008

AUSTIN – A state mental health plan naming the preferred psychiatric drugs for children has been quietly put on hold over fears drug companies may have given researchers consulting contracts, speakers fees or other perks to help get their products on the list.
The Children’s Medication Algorithm Project, or CMAP, was supposed to determine which psychiatric drugs were most effective for children and in what order they should be tried at state-funded mental health centers. In April, high-ranking state health officials gave researchers the go-ahead to roll out the guidelines.

A month later, the officials delayed the protocol, after Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s office objected to it.

Whistleblower – Allen Jones

At most, the suspension indicates that state investigators fear fraud has occurred. At the least, it reflects nationwide unease with potential conflicts of interest between leading medical researchers and the pharmaceutical firms that fund much of their work.
Publicly, officials say it’s because the state is suing a pharmaceutical company alleged to have used false advertising and improper influence to get its drugs on Texas’ now-mandatory adult protocol, the Texas Medication Algorithm Project.

Privately, individuals with knowledge of the case – who spoke only on condition of anonymity because of the pending litigation – say the attorney general’s investigation of possible fraud in the adult protocol has spread to the children’s version.

There’s no way to know exactly what authorities are investigating. But their probe into the adult protocol turned up allegations of drug companies paying researchers who worked on the adult protocol speaking fees, and footing the bill for trips to market the Texas program.

The researchers who designed the children’s protocol, who are not parties to the lawsuit over the adult drug program, insist they are motivated only by children’s health. No evidence has emerged to disprove that; many have dedicated their careers to advancing child psychiatry.

And grants and consulting fees from drug companies are legal and increasingly common, despite fears that they may influence doctors’ prescription habits. In the last quarter-century, drug makers have replaced the federal government as the nation’s main source of research funding, even though some studies suggest this money affects the outcome of clinical trials.

At least four of CMAP’s key developers – all affiliated with the University of Texas system, and all of them published child psychiatry experts – have received research funding from drug companies, or have been consultants and speakers for several different pharmaceutical firms, according to their own published papers and financial disclosure forms filed with the university. Drugs made by some of these manufacturers appear in the children’s drug protocol.

The doctors say there’s no room for improper influence when their reputations are at stake. If the drugs weren’t effective, they wouldn’t endorse them – and the research they conducted to craft CMAP wouldn’t have been published in prestigious medical journals.

“When you really look at the investigators involved and the procedures they followed, they were all within what has been defined as appropriate in every medical field,” said Dr. Steven Shon, who led the effort to create the adult drug list, and was forced to resign in 2006 over allegations he was improperly influenced by a drug company, according to previously published reports. “To block access to this protocol is really hurting the people who need it most.”

Dr. Graham Emslie, a UT-Southwestern psychiatry expert, said he never once witnessed improper influence from drug companies while he helped conduct CMAP research. “There’s much more influence relative to day-to-day prescribing” of drugs than there is doing university research or designing a protocol, he said.

At stake is the psychiatric care of tens of thousands of children treated at state and community mental health centers across Texas – many of whom are covered by Medicaid and don’t have access to private health care. Without the protocol, experts say, these children will continue to be treated by individual doctors who have their own personal influences.

“This attack is causing us to go back to the system we had before, with individual doctors who may have individual influence, instead of using a standardized protocol,” said Aaryce Hayes, a mental health policy specialist with Advocacy, Inc.

The News’ investigation into the doctors prescribing psychiatric drugs to children in state foster care has found that many doctors received money from pharmaceutical companies, for tasks such as running clinical trials and consulting.

Most states don’t require doctors to report such financial arrangements with drug companies. The few that do have found some evidence their work was affected, including doctors with drug company connections writing more prescriptions for children.
About the protocols

Drug protocols are designed to ensure all patients with a particular diagnosis receive the most effective, proven treatment available. They’re created by bringing together academics, researchers and public health experts, who run trials, compare best practices and recommend a road map, or algorithm, for which drugs should be used.

While the protocols are generally created with the best intentions, they can be controversial, particularly when drug companies have a hand in designing them.

Some lawmakers and activists say it’s time the state took a close look at the financial motivations of experts making drug decisions for hundreds of thousands of Texans. The adult protocol determines treatment decisions in state mental health facilities, despite the lawsuit and studies that have played down the benefits of some of the drugs chosen for it.

“In our country, there’s been a switch from taking care of people to focusing on big corporate money,” said Rep. Juan Escobar, D-Kingsville, who unsuccessfully offered legislation last year that would have banned researchers or government employees funded by the pharmaceutical industry from designing state psychiatric drug protocols. “There need to be restrictions on how these things are done, because the victims are our children.”

State health officials and the attorney general’s office refused to comment on either the adult or child drug protocols or on the formal letter the office sent ordering that CMAP not be rolled out. The News found no evidence that any particular drug companies had been pulled into the Medicaid fraud investigation into CMAP.

The CMAP research wasn’t funded by drug companies, but most of the country’s renowned scientists have used industry money for their work. Without the private dollars, which are more readily available than government grants, many pharmaceutical advances would be drastically delayed, researchers contend.

The flip side is that the scientists conducting the research become familiar with and invested in the drugs, making them, in effect, some of the pharmaceutical firms’ best salespeople.

Some universities, like UT, require that their researchers fill out extensive financial disclosure forms, and document every case where they conduct research on drugs manufactured by a company they consult for. Most of the CMAP researchers appear to have complied with these guidelines.

But many of the nation’s researchers must do little more than disclose their relationships in fine print at the bottom of their published papers. There’s no way to verify these disclosures are accurate; in all but a handful of states, drug companies aren’t required to reveal their payments.

Last month, Sen. Charles Grassley revealed that three Harvard psychiatry experts whose research contributed to the explosion of antipsychotic use in children had failed to report a combined $3.2 million in drug company consulting fees to the university, a violation of Harvard’s rules.

Mr. Grassley, R-Iowa, has proposed legislation to force drug companies to disclose their payments to physicians. But he faces an uphill battle. In 2007, drug companies spent an industry record – $168 million – lobbying lawmakers on Capitol Hill, according to a Center for Public Integrity study. That’s up more than 30 percent from 2006.

Patricia Ohlendorf, UT-Austin’s vice president for legal affairs, said several university system researchers, including the head of UT’s pharmacy college, M. Lynn Crismon, have been asked to give depositions for the lawsuit over the adult protocol. They are not named in the civil suit.

Dr. Crismon, who led the effort to create the children’s protocol and has received research or consulting dollars from at least 10 different drug manufacturers, according to his published papers, said he was “not at liberty” to comment on the drug protocol or the lawsuit.

Last month, an e-mail sent to some employees at the Department of State Health Services indicated that “all CMAP activities” were to be “removed from the UT College of Pharmacy” – where Dr. Crismon and a key piece of the roll-out program were centered.

An official close to CMAP said that within the last month, investigators from the attorney general’s office seized hard drives from state health offices and questioned employees. That has not happened at UT, Ms. Ohlendorf said.
The adult protocol

Texas’ adult-drug protocol, spearheaded in the mid-1990s, aimed to provide better and more consistent treatment to adult patients in state mental health facilities. The plan was designed and tested by a team of university researchers, state government experts and mental health advocates, and a presidential mental health commission lauded it in 2004 as a model for the nation.

But there were criticisms from the start by clinicians who feared the protocol would override their judgment and Scientologists opposed to all use of drugs for psychiatric care. And its research funding from 11 pharmaceutical companies prompted allegations of improper influence after several cutting-edge, high-dollar drugs were chosen over traditional generics.

Most researchers involved in the protocol, many of whom also conducted research for the children’s version, declined to comment for this report. But privately, they say their financial relationships with drug companies didn’t cloud their judgment. While the newer drugs were costly, the researchers believe they are better and that they should be available for people in state care, not just for those with private insurance.

State lawmakers moved forward with the adult protocol, using it in state psychiatric hospitals and community mental health facilities. Texas researchers were shuttled across the nation to give drug company-hosted lectures about the protocol’s merits, according to previous newspaper reports and allegations in the state lawsuit. Within years, 16 other states were using similar protocols, and Texas was designing its own for children.

But as new research about the drugs chosen for the protocol emerged, questions resurfaced. A 2005 study by the federal government’s National Institute of Mental Health showed the new antipsychotic drugs, which cost roughly 10 times more than the traditional drugs, performed no better and had nearly as many side effects.

“Taken as a whole,” the report notes, “the newer medications have no substantial advantage over the older medication.”

A year later, a British national study mirrored those findings.

Meanwhile, a Pennsylvania official became an unlikely whistle-blower when he discovered the state’s chief pharmacist – who was designing a drug plan based on Texas’ protocol – was reportedly on the payroll for a drug company, according to previously published news reports.

Allen Jones’ bosses in the Pennsylvania inspector general’s office told him to lay off, Mr. Jones alleges, and when he didn’t, he was fired. Mr. Jones traced the pharmaceutical influence all the way back to the TMAP protocol, filing a whistle-blower lawsuit in Texas that quickly caught the eye of state authorities.

Mr. Jones could not be reached for comment. His Dallas-based attorney did not return phone calls.

Not long after, Dr. Shon, then the medical director for the Department of State Health Services, was ousted over allegations the pharmaceutical company Janssen improperly influenced him to include its schizophrenia drug in the protocol, according to previous news reports and the TMAP lawsuit.

Dr. Shon was accused of accepting consulting money from the company – income he says was unrelated to his work for the state – and of taking dozens of trips underwritten by drug companies to promote the protocol.

In 2006, the Texas attorney general’s office joined Mr. Jones’ lawsuit, accusing Janssen of concealing the risks and exaggerating the benefits of the drug, Risperdal, and of trying to persuade researchers with “trips, perks, travel expenses, honoraria and other payments.” As a result, the state says, the protocol includes high-priced drugs instead of cheaper generics, which costs Texas’ Medicaid program more money.

Executives with Janssen did not return repeated phone calls. In court papers filed in Travis County, the drug company denied any wrongdoing, calling Mr. Jones an “opportunistic ‘late-comer’ ” who had “at best, only secondhand knowledge of the alleged fraud.”

Dr. Shon, who retired to Las Vegas, says for every speaking engagement where he represented the state of Texas, he gave the payment he received to the state. Over the course of 15 years, he said, he probably earned less than $15,000 from private consulting gigs with drug companies – jobs that weren’t related to his state position.

“They were done on my own time, and they followed all the guidelines,” he said. “In terms of what I’ve been involved with, I haven’t seen anybody paid by the industry to promote a product.”

Link here: