Evelyn Pringle July 2009
Written for Natural News
The Mothers Act Disease Mongering Campaign – Part I
The Mothers Act represents the ultimate example of disease mongering at its worst because the eight-year attempt to pass this federal legislation has evolved into profiteering never before exhibited so conspicuously.
Disease mongering “is the selling of sickness that widens the boundaries of illness and grows the markets for those who sell and deliver treatments,” according to Ray Moyniahan and David Henry in the April 11, 2006 paper in PLoS Med, titled, “The Fight against Disease Mongering.”
“It is exemplified most explicitly by many pharmaceutical industry–funded disease-awareness campaigns—more often designed to sell drugs than to illuminate or to inform or educate about the prevention of illness or the maintenance of health,” the authors explain.
“Drug companies are by no means the only players in this drama,” they point out. “Through the work of investigative journalists, we have learned how informal alliances of pharmaceutical corporations, public relations companies, doctors’ groups, and patient advocates promote these ideas to the public and policymakers—often using mass media to push a certain view of a particular health problem.”
The Mothers Act campaign has operated under the guise of helping women suffering from postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis to develop a new industry, complete with specialties like, “reproductive psychiatry,” or “reproductive mental health,” with a plan to “screen” and “treat” women of childbearing years for a long list of “perinatal” mental disorders, to financially benefit psychiatric drug makers, as well as the treatment providers and “experts” in the new self-created field.
“Drug companies have been trying for years to get a better deal with pregnant women by saying they were under a lot more stress than people realize,” according to UK pharmacology expert, Dr David Healy, author the new book,”Mania: A Short History of Bipolar Disorder.”
This is now the easiest marketing for the drug makers, he says. In fact, “almost too easy because lots of people are cooperative.”
The Mothers Act has already passed in the House and Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), is the main sponsor of the bill in the Senate. In 2006, his home state of New Jersey became the first state in the nation to enact a law forcing all new mothers to submit to mandatory screening.
A June 24, 2009 report by the public interest advocacy group, “Common Cause,” lists Menedez as one of the top 20 recipients of healthcare industry campaign contributions in the Senate between 2000 and 2008. Since the year 2000, Menendez has received a total of $2,252,169, including $723,550 from Big Pharma.
On June 8, 2009, a headline on New Jersey.com, read: “E-mail: Drug lobbyist targeted Menendez to help with importation bill,” and reported that the subject line of the email said: “URGENT”
The strategy to pursue Menendez became known when the email from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, the industry trade group, ended up with Senator John McCain, a drug importation advocate. “And McCain read it on the Senate floor – twice,” the article notes.
The email called for New Jersey drug companies to ask Menendez to be their champion on an amendment that would effectively kill any attempt to allow cheaper drugs to be imported from other countries, according to the report.
“We need to locate a Democratic lead cosponsor for the second degree amendment,” the e-mail said. “Can … [Johnson & Johnson], Merck, Novartis, Pfizer and the other New Jersey companies coordinate and contact Senator Menendez’s office and ask him to take the lead?”
“Menendez’s office said that while he supports the drug companies’ position, he did not act as their champion,” according to New Jersey.com.
Officially known as the “Melanie Blocker-Stokes Post Partum Depression Research and Care Act,” the bill is “named after Melanie Stokes, a woman who suffered emotional difficulties after giving birth and was subsequently prescribed a cocktail of intensely controversial psychiatric drugs including anti-psychotic, anti-anxiety, and anti-depressant drugs before being subjected to electroshock treatment,” according to a letter made available on the AbleChild, website for persons to sign and send to Senators, via the internet, encouraging them to vote against the Act.
“Melanie Stokes was in the mental health system, was prescribed drugs, was hospitalized, was subjected to the still barbaric practice of electroshock and only after receiving mental health “treatment” did she commit suicide,” it further explains.
“That is what the mental health industry did for a new mother named Melanie,” the letter points out.
The Mothers Act “quite simply is a feeder line for the psycho-pharmaceutical industry and will result in more mothers and infants being put at risk for being prescribed antidepressant and other dangerous psychiatric drugs,” the AbleChild letter warns.
Suicide Prevention Hoax
The disease mongering campaigns for the new generation of psychiatric drugs over the last 20 years were accomplished under the ruse of suicide prevention. However, in 1987, the year Prozac was approved, and kicked off the bogus epidemic of mental illness in this country, the number of suicides was 30,796, and in the latest year reported on the website of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, the number of suicides was 33,292 in 2006.
The suicide related adverse event reports submitted to the FDA’s MedWatch system are summarized on the “Adverse Psychiatric Drug Reaction” website. For a two-year period between January 2004 and December 2006, the top 20 list of most commonly reported adverse events for Prozac, included 187 suicides and 68 attempts. Zoloft had 154 suicides and 162 suicide attempts. Paxil’s top 20 list included 841 suicides, Celexa had 232 suicide reports, and Lexapro had 189 suicides, and 87 suicide attempts, reported to MedWatch.
Only between one and ten percent of adverse events ever get reported to the FDA’s system.
In May 2009, journalist, Philip Dawdy, reported on the popular Furious Seasons website, that Wyeth’s new Effexor me-too drug, Pristiq, approved in early 2008, had already generated 1,272 adverse event reports in MedWatch by the end of 2008.
“It’s discouraging that 17 of those reports involve completed suicides through the end of 2008,” Dawdy said. “There are also 48 reports of suicidal ideation.”
Symptoms Equal Side Effects
Purely for profit, patients are told to stay on antidepressants indefinitely to prevent a relapse of depression or anxiety disorders. It’s doubtful that patients realize that their sex lives could be ruined by taking the drugs or that the use of common pain relievers, vitamins and alcohol is dangerous or that their driving ability might be altered, for years on end.
The website Prozac.com lists depression symptoms as: depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day; lack of interest or pleasure in your usual activities and a lack of motivation; changes in appetite; sleep problems; anxiety or restlessness; feelings of guilt, worthlessness, and insecurity; difficulty concentrating and thinking clearly; fatigue or lack of energy; and thoughts of suicide.
Compare those “symptoms” to the severity and number of adverse events listed and described on the “Safety Information” page for Prozac, which includes the following statement:
“Patients on antidepressants and their families or caregivers should watch for worsening depression symptoms, unusual changes in behavior and thoughts of suicide, as well as for anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, difficulty sleeping, irritability, hostility, aggressiveness, impulsivity, restlessness, or extreme hyperactivity.”
Under the heading, “What are possible side effects of PROZAC?” the website states:
“Some people experience side effects like nausea, difficulty sleeping, drowsiness, anxiety, nervousness, weakness, loss of appetite, tremors, dry mouth, sweating, decreased sex drive, impotence, or yawning.”
“PROZAC can cause changes in sexual desire or satisfaction,” it warns.
Sexual dysfunction, including lack of libido, orgasmic dysfunction and delayed ejaculation, are common side effects of using SSRIs, according to the May 2005 report, “The Marketing of Depression: The Prescribing of SSRI Antidepressants to Women,” by Dr Janet Currie.
“Since SSRIs are prescribed more often for women, women are more frequently affected by SSRI-induced sexual dysfunction,” she explains.
“Because SSRIs can also lead to a worsening of depression, paradoxical effects, emotional blunting or detachment, reduced emotional activity, memory loss and confusion, these effects, in conjunction with sexual dysfunction, can negatively affect intimate relationships,” she warns.
“There are concerns that not all sexual dysfunction may fully resolve after termination of treatment,” Currie also reports.
“Be sure to tell your doctor if you are taking PROZAC and are taking or plan to take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or aspirin since combined use of these drug products have been associated with an increased risk of bleeding,” the Prozac website advises.
“Also, tell your doctor if you are taking or plan to take any vitamins, herbal supplements or alcohol,” the warning says.
An October 2007 study by researches led by Dr Sonal Singh, published online in Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, reported that SSRIs may double the risk of bleeding in the upper digestive gastrointestinal tract including the esophagus, stomach or upper intestine.
The researchers also noted that when SSRIs are taken with aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as prescription Celebrex or over-the-counter Aleve, the risk of bleeding was 6 times higher than in persons not on the drugs.
“Do not drive a car or operate dangerous machinery until you know what effects PROZAC may have on you,” the Prozac website instructs.
A December 2006 study in the, “Journal of Clinical Psychiatry,” reported that about seven out of every ten people who take antidepressants have impaired driving ability and that 16% of the people on the drugs have severe motor impairments.
A new May 2009 study, in the “American Journal of Psychiatry,” reports that long term use of antidepressants raises the risk of diabetes, especially in moderate to high doses. SSRIs increased the risk by 106% and tricyclic antidepressants increased the risk by 77%.
The precaution section on the labeling for Prozac states: “Hyponatremia may occur as a result of treatment.”
“Signs and symptoms of hyponatremia include headache, difficulty concentrating, memory impairment, confusion, weakness, and unsteadiness, which may lead to falls,” it explains.
“More severe and/or acute cases have been associated with hallucination, syncope, seizure, coma, respiratory arrest, and death,” the label warns.
Antidepressants lose patent profitability
Since the new generation of antidepressants lost their patent profitability, the treatment for all the “mood” and “anxiety” disorders women will be diagnosed with as a result of the Mothers Act disease mongering campaign, now includes not only antidepressants, but drugs used as “mood stabilizers,” such as the antipsychotics Zyprexa, Seroquel, Risperdal, Invega, Geodon and Abilify, and antiseizure medications including Lamictal, Depakote, Topamax, Trileptal, Neurontin, Gabitril and Lyrica, along with benzodiazepines like Xanax, Ativan, Valium and Klonopin, and sleeping pills such as Ambien or Lunesta.
In 2008, psychiatric drug makers had overall US sales of $14.6 billion from antipsychotics, $9.6 billion off antidepressants, $11.3 billion from antiseizure drugs, and $4.8 billion in sales of ADHD drugs, for a grand total of $40.3 billion.
“In 2008, 85 million prescriptions were filled for the top 20 benzodiazepines, an increase of 10 million over 2004, according to IMS Health, a health-care information company,” the Wall Street Journal reported on June 30, 2009.
“Worldwide revenue for Xanax rose to $350 million last year, up nearly 50 percent from 2003, according to pharmaceutical company Pfizer’s financial reports,” the Journal reported.
Xanax sold for $203 for 100 middle dose tablets, and Ativan cost $230 per hundred at DrugStore.com on July 13, 2009.
Benzodiazepines are often prescribed to manage anxiety, panic and sleep disorders, the Journal noted. “Health professionals and consumers are increasingly recognizing that taking the drugs for more than a few weeks can lead to physical dependence, often ending with a grueling withdrawal,” the article said.
Psychiatric drugs are now doled out in multiple drug cocktails to treat “co-occurring” mental illnesses such as “anxiety disorders” and “treatment resistant” depression, or the latest rage, “Adult ADHD.”
In an April 2008 report, the market research firm, Datamonitor, announced: “ADHD – Immature adult market continues to offer greatest commercial potential.”
“Estimated to be twice the size of the pediatric ADHD population,” the reports states, “the highly prevalent, yet largely untapped, adult ADHD population continues to represent an attractive niche to target.”
“The rising awareness of ADHD brought about by marketing campaigns for Adderall XR and Strattera has paved the way for the entry of additional adult ADHD drugs,” it notes.
“The US dominates the ADHD market with a 94% market share,” Datamonitor points out, demonstrating that the rest of the world has apparently not lost the ability to concentrate without the use of “legal speed.”
Last year, Adderall and Vyvanse maker, Shire, issued a press release on May 12, 2008, to announce a “Nationwide Adult ADHD Mobile Awareness Tour,” and launched a “13-city mobile screening initiative” for adults with ADHD.
“The screening initiative, known as the “RoADHD Trip,” is housed, transported and anchored by the RoADHD Trip Tractor Trailer which expands into a tented area housing eight self-screening stations,” Shire explained in the press release.
Shire claims that ADHD “affects approximately 4.4 percent of the U.S. adult population aged 18-44 according to the National Comorbidity Survey Replication, a nationally representative household survey.”
Dr David Stein, author of, “Unraveling the ADD/ADHD Fiasco,” warns that stimulant drugs are “near the top of the heap of potentially addictive drugs.”
There is no way of pinpointing which people are at risk of becoming addicted, he says, and “psychiatry has an extremely poor track record for treating addiction problems.”
Profitable Victims Spur Disease Mongering
When drugs are peddled through mental illness disease mongering campaigns, stories in the media seldom mention medication prices, much less the number of drugs commonly prescribed together to treat the various disorders; leaving the public unaware of the enormous profit motive behind the mass drugging of the victims.
A women diagnosed with ADHD and treatment resistant depression might end up taking Strattera, Cymbalta and Zyprexa, all sold by Eli Lilly. The recent prices of these drugs at a middle dose on DrugStore.com were $427 for 100 capsules of Strattera, $391 for 90 capsules of Cymbalta, and Zyprexa was $1,195 per ninety pills.
A year of these three drugs would bring in roughly $24,156, per patient, for Lilly and the pharmacy alone, not counting the prescribing doctors’ fees and the cost of any therapy sessions deemed necessary.
Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Abilify is now approved as an “Adjunctive Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder,” at a price of $1,230 for ninety capsules at DrugStore.com. The “Information for Patients,” section on the labeling states in part:
“Patients, their families, and their caregivers should be encouraged to be alert to the emergence of anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, aggressiveness, impulsivity, akathisia (psychomotor restlessness), hypomania, mania, other unusual changes in behavior, worsening of depression, and suicidal ideation, especially early during antidepressant treatment and when the dose is adjusted up or down.”
“A syndrome of potentially irreversible, involuntary, dyskinetic movements may develop in patients treated with antipsychotic drugs,” the Abilify labeling warns.
On April 29, 2009, Philip Dawdy’s headline on Furious Seasons, read: “10 Percent Of Depressed Patients Now Take Antipsychotics,” based on statements made during a conference call by executives of Bristol-Myers Squibb.
“Forget about Prozac Nation, this is Atypical Nation,” he said. “Antipsychotics are now the top revenue producing class of drugs, topping even statins.”
Zyprexa and Prozac are combined in Lilly’s Symbyax, recently approved for “treatment resistant” depression and the Abilify warnings are also on the labeling of this drug. The price of Symbyax was $1,564 for ninety 12-25mg capsules on DrugStore.com in May 2009, meaning each patient could bring in $18,768 per year for Lilly and the pharmacy alone.
A 2007 study titled, “Serious Adverse Drug Events Reported to the Food and Drug Administration,” between 1998-2005, by Thomas Moore, Michael Cohen, and Curt Furberg, in the Archives of Internal Medicine, found the number of fatal adverse event reports to the FDA had increased nearly 300%, from 1998 to 2005. The top 15 drugs with the most fatalities included the antipsychotics, Clozaril with 3,277 deaths, Risperdal with 1,093, and Zyprexa with 1,005. Paxil also made the top 15 list with 850 death reports.
In 2008, the FDA warned that anticonvulsants double the risk of suicidal behavior or ideation, with epilepsy treatment having the highest risk, ruling out psychiatric disorders, such as depression, as the underlying culprit.
The prices for anticonvulsants at a middle dose ran as high as $1,029 for 180 tablets of GlaxoSmithKline’s Lamictal, and $1,286 for 180 tablets of Johnson & Johnson’s Topamax, in May 2009.
Unconscionable Disease Mongers Target the Nursery
“The rights of the unborn to a safe and healthy birth are being taken away by this legislation,” says Mothers Act opponent Larry Bone.
“One third of pregnant women in the US already take psychiatric drugs at some point during their pregnancies and most are never warned of the known risks for themselves, their unborn and nursing babies, depriving them of their right to informed consent,” according to Dr Fred Baughman, author of the “ADHD Fraud,” and former director of the March of Dimes, Birth Defects Clinic of Western Michigan.
“Should the Act pass,” he warns, “it will guarantee that more mothers-to-be, their unborn still-developing babies, and more nursing mothers and their nursing infants, will join the ranks of the psychiatrically drugged.”
A young Texas mother, Amy Philo, is the leader of “Unite for Life,” a coalition of 53 groups fighting against the Mothers Act, which includes the Alliance for Human Research Protection, AbleChild, Citizens Commission on Human Rights, International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology; International Coalition For Drug Awareness; Law Project for Psychiatric Rights, Mindfreedom International, and the National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy.
The coalition points out that there is no language in the bill that will ensure mothers are granted the most fundamental right of “informed consent,” meaning they will be told about all the risks of the proposed treatments and all the alternatives.
“If this bill was really for moms with PPD,” Amy says, “it would ensure express written informed consent and ensure that all medical testing and non-drug options are explored.”
“When the sponsors in the Senate refuse to add informed consent language and an examination of existing data on risks of existing treatments, then you know something is wrong,” she says. “Seriously wrong.”
The lack of an informed consent provision also concerns other experts in the field.
“In every case in which a doctor writes a prescription, the person receiving the drug must be fully and understandably provided a statement of the risks associated with treatment,” says Harrisburg, Pennsylvania psychiatrist, Dr Stefan Kruszewski, who serves as an expert in litigation on the harms of psychiatric drugs.
“This is never more serious than when two lives are potentially at risk, such as the pregnant or nursing mother and her infant,” he advises.
“The risks for a pregnant mom on antidepressants may include withdrawal, akathisia or rapid mood swings,” he warns. “For the fetus, the overwhelming worry is a withdrawal syndrome and congenital malformations, resulting in complications for both mother and child.”
In 2004, Amy was prescribed Zoloft, to “prevent” PPD, because she became extremely anxious and concerned after she witnessed her newborn son’s life-threatening choking incident, based on a recommendation of a home visiting nurse.
Without any explanation of alternative treatments, or warnings about side effects, the doctor told Amy that Zoloft would make her and her nursing infant happy, in a consultation lasting about two minutes.
Zoloft caused Amy to become homicidal and suicidal and she ended up locked in a mental ward away from her baby for two days. Rather than recognize the side effects of Zoloft, the “professionals” upped the dose and also tried to feed Amy Zyprexa, Celexa, Ambien, and Klonopin, which she refused to take because she was nursing.
Amy’s obsessive homicidal and suicidal thoughts persisted for five months, until she weaned herself off Zoloft against medical advice, and they disappeared and never returned. Her recently obtained medical records show she was labeled with obsessive-compulsive disorder and major depression. These stigmatizing labels will stay in her records forever with no explanation that Zoloft was the cause of any alleged mental disorder.
The family’s insurance was billed about $8,000 for the 2-day stay in the mental ward, and Amy and her husband were stuck with an $800 co-payment. Ninety 100mg tablets of Zoloft cost $318, at DrugStore.com on July 13, 2009. Of the drugs Amy refused to take, Celexa sold for $355 for 100 20mg tablets, Klonopin was $209 for 100 2mg tablets, and Ambien cost $173 for 30 10mg pills. As mentioned above, Zyprexa recently sold for $1,195 per ninety tablets.
Andrea Yates is another example of a women drugged into madness. On June 20, 2001, the Texas housewife and former nurse, filled a bathtub with water 3 inches from the top and methodically drowned her five children one by one. After she was done she called 911. When the policemen arrived she led them to the bodies.
“Contrary to the mantra that it is untreated mental illness that causes these tragic events, more often than not, we see these events occurring in individuals who are receiving mental health “treatment,” almost always in the form of psychotropic drugs,” warns attorney, Karen Barth Menzies, who has worked on cases involving drug-induced homicide and suicide, as well as SSRI birth defect litigation.
“From everything I have read about the Yates case,” she says, “it is a tragic consequence of an incompetent, failing and corrupt mental health system.”
“Ms Yates was on a chemical soup of various medications and, therefore, it is difficult to point the finger at any one drug,” she explains.
“But it seems clear that the drugs she was taking did nothing but exacerbate her condition,” she adds.
“I think the drug manufacturers who grossly oversell the benefits of their drugs and the doctors who pile on drug after drug, bear responsibility for the death of these children and deserve to be criminally charged as well,” Menzies states.
“What we have observed, particularly in criminal cases,” she says, “is that people taking these drugs will commit crimes they normally would never have committed due to a combination of side effects.”
“For over a decade, antidepressant manufacturers have monitored the criminal courts for suspects who became violent while taking an antidepressant — and they secretly help prosecutors fight against an SSRI-antidepressant defense,” Menzies reports.
”The last thing drug companies want is for juries (and the public) to learn the truth – that these drugs can cause people to become violent and homicidal,” she advises.
“Of course, the drug companies do not give the prosecutors the whole story,” she says. “To protect the reputation of their money-making drug, the companies hide the internal evidence of people in clinical trials who become violent and homicidal on their drug, but then fully-recovered once they were off.”
“These adverse reactions normally include an agitated state as well as a condition called “depersonalization” where the individual becomes disconnected from the reality of their actions, where everything seems unreal, as if they are watching a movie,” Menzies explains.
“Often times,” she notes, “there is a state of disinhibition, where normal inhibitions are no longer present, such as when people become intoxicated or are on street drugs.”
“Unfortunately,” she says, “the cost to bring a drug-induced violence (involuntary intoxication) defense is extraordinary, especially because the state is backed by drug company resources to fight this defense.”
“Not exactly a level playing field,” she says, “And the drug companies, as we’ve seen, will spare nothing when it comes to protecting the profits they make on these drugs!”
An April 20, 2009 press release by Senator Menendez claimed the Mothers Act legislation would increase federal efforts to combat postpartum depression by:
“Creating a grant program to public or nonprofit private entities to deliver or enhance outpatient, inpatient and home-based health and support services, including case management and comprehensive treatment services for individuals with or at risk for postpartum conditions.
“Activities may also include providing education about postpartum conditions to new mothers and their families, including symptoms, methods of coping with the illness, and treatment resources, in order to promote earlier diagnosis and treatment.”
As will be shown in the next parts of this series, the “public or nonprofit private entities” are already in place and the profiteers are waiting with their hands out for the tax dollars to start rolling into their bank accounts.
The Mothers Act Disease Mongering Campaign – Part II
The Mothers Act legislation specifically defines the term “postpartum conditions” as “postpartum depression” or “postpartum psychosis.” Use of the Act as an 8-year disease mongering campaign to further promote the new cottage industry of “reproductive psychiatry,” or “reproductive mental health,” comes from websites often run by people who will financially benefit from passage of the Act.
In 1992, the late journalist Lynn Payer wrote a book titled, “Disease Mongering,” and defined disease mongering as, “trying to convince essentially well people that they are sick, or slightly sick people that they are very ill.”
Tactics identified in the book currently used in the Mothers Act campaign include: (1) Framing the issues in a particular way, (2) Taking a normal function and implying that there’s something wrong with it and it should be treated, (3) Defining as large a proportion of the population as possible as suffering from the ‘disease’, (4) Selective use of statistics to exaggerate the benefits of treatment, and (5) Getting the right spin doctors.
“Since disease is such a fluid and political concept, the providers can essentially create their own demand by broadening the definitions of diseases in such a way as to include the greatest number of people, and by spinning out new diseases,” Payer explained in the book.
Although the mandatory screening language was removed from the Mothers Act last year, due to strong opposition, the words and actions by the bill’s supporters demonstrate that the screening dragnet was always the main component of this disease mongering campaign. The language in the previous bill stated in part: “To ensure that new mothers and their families are educated about postpartum depression, screened for symptoms, and provided with essential services.”
The main sponsor of the Act in the House was Illinois Democratic Congressman, Bobby Rush. On March 30, 2009, the Postpartum Support International website posted the headline: “Congressman Rush passes The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act in the U.S. House of Representatives.. now it’s on to the senate!!”
In a speech on the House floor that day, Rush made the following ridiculous disease mongering statement: “Madame Speaker, today, 60 to 80 percent of new mothers experience symptoms of postpartum depression while the more serious condition, postpartum psychosis, affects up to 20 percent of women who have recently given birth.”
He then took it a step further and told members of Congress: “Experts in the field of women’s health like Susan Stone, Chair of the President’s Advisory Council of Postpartum Support International, says that these statistics do not include mothers whose babies are stillborn, who miscarry, or who are vulnerable to these devastating disorders which raises those at risk into the millions.”
“Every 50 seconds a new mother will begin struggling with the effects of mental illness,” he added.
“After eight long years,” Rush said, “today marks an important step forward in the journey for Congress to fully recognize postpartum depression as a national women’s health priority.”
“H. R. 20 will finally put significant money and attention into research, screening, treatment and education for mothers suffering from this disease,” he reported.
In a 2005 paper in the Psychiatric Bulletin titled, “Psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry: who pays the piper?,” a perspective from the Critical Psychiatry Network, the authors, Joanna Moncrieff, Steve Hopker, and Philip Thomas, point out that psychiatry is particularly vulnerable to the influence of the pharmaceutical industry for a number of reasons.
“There is no objective test for external validation of psychiatric disorders,” they explain. “This means the boundaries of ‘normality’ and disorder are easily manipulated to expand markets for drugs.”
“The adverse effects of drugs are downplayed, and alternative approaches to distress neglected,” they warn. “Patients and carers are led to believe that there are simple, drug-based solutions to their problems, leading to disillusion and disappointment when this turns out not to be so.”
“Disease mongering turns healthy people into patients, wastes precious resources, and causes iatrogenic harm,” Ray Moyniahan and David Henry warn in the April 11, 2006 paper in PLoS Med, titled, “The Fight against Disease Mongering,” in words that certainly apply to the Mothers Act campaign.
“As an initial step toward combating disease mongering at a health policy level,” the authors “urge decision makers to promote a renovation in the way diseases are defined.”
“Continuing to leave these definitions to panels of self-interested specialists riddled with professional and commercial conflicts of interest is no longer viable,” they warn.
Susan Stone, the “expert” Bobby Rush referred to, runs PerinatalPro, a blatant profiteering website used to advertise her treatment and training services at a facility in New Jersey, which tells readers:
“Welcome to Perinatal Pro, the website presence of Blue Skye Consulting, LLC, posted by women’s reproductive mental health expert Susan Dowd Stone, MSW, LCSW, to help educate and inform women, families and health care providers about the often unexpected challenges of mood changes during pregnancy, the postpartum and throughout a woman’s reproductive life.”
Susan is not a psychiatrist nor a psychologist, she is a social worker and a past president of Postpartum Support International. Yet she maintains a private practice, “specializing in women’s reproductive mental health across the life cycle,” according to her bio.
The “Clinical Focus” of treatment advertised for Blue Skye with PerinatalPro includes: Perinatal Mood Disorders and Postpartum Depression; Perimenopause and menopause; Bereavement associated with child loss, stillbirth or miscarriage; Lifestyle changes and loss (divorce, remarriage, health issues); Depression associated with medical conditions; Disordered Eating and Body Dysmorphic Disorder; Trauma/PTSD; and Affective Disorders including depression and anxiety.
“We work with your physician, psychiatrist or other healthcare provider to ensure a continuum of care,” the website says.
A more likely explanation for this collaboration would be that a social worker is not qualified to diagnose patients with mental disorders and a doctor would have to sign off on the diagnosis in order to bill public and private insurance programs for treatment.
Susan would also need a doctor to prescribe drugs to her “patients.” In return, the doctor would profit from the fees paid for the brief office calls required to obtain the prescriptions.
The PerinatalPro site even has a link to schedule an appointment at Blue Skye, through an email address with Susan Stone’s name in the box. The joint is open for business on Monday through Friday beginning at 7 am and ending at 9 pm, “most evenings.”
Blue Skye “also provides licensed professionals who will come to your office, agency or Grand Rounds to facilitate groups or educational presentations on mental health topics of interest to your staff,” the website advertises. “In addition, we work with EAP’s to provide therapy on or off site to your clients.”
Susan posts a running list of groups that endorse the Mothers Act on her website and just about every Big Pharma funded pill pushing front group in the US is on it. The drug company dollar amounts funneled to these “non-profits” in recent years is broken down in my article, “Just Say No to the Mothers Act,” which can be found with a google search of the internet.
Amy Philo, the leader of “Unite For Life,” a movement of 53 groups against the Act, posted the estimated amount traceable to the main supporters on her website, based on the “Just Say No,” article, with a total of between $13,095,010 and $16,487,497. The wide estimate resulted from the fact that groups’ annual reports will often list the amounts given with wide margins.
For instance, the 2006 report for “Mental Health America,” shows the “non-profit” received over $1 million from Eli Lilly, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Wyeth. Janssen and Pfizer gave between $500,000 and $1,000,000, and AstraZeneca and Forest Labs donated between $100,000 and $499,000. GlaxoSmithKline gave between $50,000 and $100,000.
Pfizer’s 2008 grant report shows a $20,000 grant to a Mental Health America group in Georgia to sponsor: “Project Healthy Moms: Education for Prevention/Treatment for Perinatal Depression Disorders.”
Big Pharma money is funneled to front groups to make sure the leaders of the “non-profits” are extremely well-paid. Mental Health America’s 2002 tax returns show the President, Michael Faenza, received compensation of $306,727, and another $35,275 to employee benefit plans and deferred compensation that year, for a 35 hour work week.
Lea Ann Browing-McNee, the Senior VP, received $122,007, and $14,353 in contributions to employee benefit plans and deferred compensation for 35 hours a week. The VP, Charles Ingoglia, was paid $121,673, and $15,907 to employee benefit plans and deferred compensation, for a 35 hour week.
In a May 29, 2009, blog on PerinatalPro Susan wrote: “I humbly announce that I will be honored by the Mental Health Association in New Jersey at an event on June 10th for advocacy and clinical work related to national ppd initiatives”.
The “Association” Susan refers to is actually a “Mental Health America” group.
In the same her blog, Susan mentions how the Mothers Act might help fund “inpatient maternal mental health” programs all across the US.
“Just this morning,” she wrote, “I completed an interview with Parenting Magazine, which plans to feature an article about the nation’s first inpatient maternal mental health unit at UNC, Chapel Hill, NC, as well as focus on the federal legislation and how this bill might help fund other such programs across the country.”
The PerinatalPro site also provides links to buy Susan’s book, co-authored with Alexis E Menken, titled: “Perinatal and Postpartum Mood Disorders Perspectives and Treatment Guide for the Health Care Practitioner,” listed for $54.00 on one site, with a product description including the following disease mongering comments:
“Statistics on the prevalence of perinatal mood disorders suggest that up to 20% of women experience diagnosable pregnancy related mood disorders.”
“Over the past three years, pregnancy related mood disorders have become the focus of health care advocates and legislators alike with subsequent reflection in nationwide media.”
“This increasing awareness has also resulted in recent legislative and healthcare initiatives to screen, assess, and treat such disorders,” the Amazon website states, using the “screen” word.
Karen Kleiman, another social worker transformed into a “medical expert,” runs a treatment facility called the “Postpartum Stress Center,” in Rosemont, Pennsylvania.
“The Postpartum Stress Center specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of prenatal and postpartum depression and anxiety disorders,” Kleiman’s site says.
“Referrals to The Postpartum Stress Center come from Psychiatrists, OBGYNs, Family Practitioners, Pediatricians, RNs, other therapists, Depression After Delivery, Midwifery groups, Women Centers, Breastfeeding support groups, and direct referrals from the mother or family members,” the site states.
As a social worker, like Susan Stone, Kleiman would also need a doctor to diagnose women with mental disorders before she could bill public and private insurance programs to “treat” them. And, she would need a doctor to prescribe the drugs.
Kleiman wrote a raving review of Susan’s book on the Amazon website, and as luck would have it, three books listed as “Frequently Bought Together” on Amazon, include Susan’s and two by Kleiman. The deal price for purchasing all three together is $95.65.
Kleiman sells seven books on her website that she either wrote or contributed to. Some can even be purchased with a direct payment through a paypal account, to bypass Amazon.
Kleiman conducts a workshop at her Center every three months titled: “Advanced Practice Development Workshop: Launching your private practice,” and uses her internet blogs to recruit paying participants.
In this four-hour training session, future “private practice” owners learn in part: “Which marketing strategies are most effective for this population of clients and the medical community”.
They also learn: “How to connect with the community at large and maximize the need and desire for your services”.
Participants receive a copy of the Center’s Guide to “Enhancing your PPD Private Practice: A checklist for successful practice”, as well.
The class is part of a two-day deal with another 6-hour workshop titled, “Fundamentals of PPD,” for a total of 10 hours at a cost of $750. The website says they try to keep the classes small (6 to 10), so that would mean Kleiman’s take would be between $6,000 and $7,500, or between $24,000 and $30,000 for 40 hours work in four seminars a year teaching people how to “Launch” their own private practice.
At $100 a crack, Blue Skye Consulting seems like it offers a better deal for half-day workshops for professionals “to help develop a specialty in perinatal mood disorders,” including two titled: “Identifying Perinatal Mood Disorders,” and “Treating Perinatal Mood Disorders.”
But then Susan Stone’s course may not teach people how to “Launch” their own private practice.
In a June 4, 2007, blog on the Center’s webite, Kleiman reported a new study that found 79% of doctors were unlikely to formally screen for postpartum depression and noted that the co-author of the study “reminds us that in addition to the Edinburgh (EPDS) Screening tool (most commonly used), healthcare practitioners can check for signs of PPD by a simple 2-question tool, developed by Whooley et al.”
Further elaborating on this pop quiz, Kleiman wrote: “It has been shown that these two questions may be as effective as longer instruments,” and listed the questions as: (1) “Over the past 2 weeks, have you felt down, depressed, or hopeless?”, and (2) “Over the past 2 weeks, have you felt little interest or pleasure in doing things?”
“A positive response to either question indicates a positive screen and should be followed by an comprehensive history and assessment to confirm the diagnosis of depression,” she wrote.
Under a heading: “Doctors take note” she stated: “We should not need state legislation to mandate what we know to be medically significant. Patients should be screened for postpartum depression. It is easy. It take 5 minutes. It can save lives.”
She followed up with a heading: “Clinicians take note,” and wrote: “Healthcare practitioners need this information. Take the time to get this information to the doctors you work with or want to market to. Arm yourself with screening tools and literature to substantiate this practice.”
How to Practice Medicine Without a License
Kleiman is listed as a postpartum depression “expert” on another propaganda pumping internet site called StorkNet, complete with her own bio page, where she posts advice for pregnant and nursing mothers to access over the internet and provides a live link to her treatment center.
In response to the question, “what are the best drugs for a breastfeeding mom with postpartum depression?”, Kleiman wrote in part: “Keep in mind that this information is based on MY practice and will vary considerably from doctor to doctor.”
“The SSRI antidepressants (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) we are most comfortable using based on the research we have are: Zoloft (Sertraline) and Paxil (Paroxetine). Other antidepressants (tricyclics) that are used are Pamelor (Nortriptyline) and Desipramine (Norpramin), although it seems that the SSRIs are preferable these days because they have fewer side effects and are easily tolerated.”
In answering questions on “How Long to Take Medication,” Kleiman said to think of antidepressants as a “Serotonin vitamin,” and cited a recommendation from the American Psychiatric Association for staying on antidepressants for 6 to 9 months after the woman is feeling better.
“That’s not 6-9 months after you start taking the pill, it’s after you start feeling better!” she wrote. “The reason they recommend that you remain on it that long is because studies show there is a high risk of relapse if you get off the meds too early. And if you relapse, the symptoms are often harder to treat.”
“For that reason,” she said, “I tell my patients to try to think of this as a Serotonin vitamin; just take it, don’t think about “why” you’re taking it, you need it, it’s helping, and you’ll worry about getting off of it later.”
In 2008, Zoloft maker, Pfizer, donated more than $700,000 to the “non-profit” American Psychiatric Association.
Eli Lilly, the maker of Cymbalta, Prozac, and Symbyax, a drug that combines Zyprexa and Prozac, gave the APA 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, and roughly $450,000 more was given to the American Psychiatric Foundation for the APA fellowship program.
“Antidepressants are one of the most efficient and effective treatments for PPD,” Kleiman boldly tells women reading her StorkNet advice.
In another blog Kleiman wrote: “Women who experience depression during pregnancy are at an increased risk for PPD.”
“Current research supports the use of antidepressants immediately after delivery to reduce the likelihood of PPD.”
“Many women and their doctors choose this option,” Kleiman said, “to start their medication right after the baby is born, and I mean right in the delivery room!”
Doesn’t sound like any alternative therapies are considered, or tried, by this “expert” before dosing nursing infants with psych drugs.
On May 30, 2007, Kleiman ran the headline, “SSRIs and Pregnancy: Encouraging Study,” and wrote the following paragraph in a blog on the Postpartum Stress Center website:
“As presented at a poster session at the 2007 American Psychiatric Association (APA) conference, “APA: SSRIs in Pregnancy Not Associated With Cardiac or Pulmonary Problems”–there is a prelimiary data which offers encouraging support for the use of SSRIs during pregnancy.”
“While a retrospective chart review isn’t the best methodology (it’s certainly the best bet for pregnancy),” Kleiman said, “this is very positive and evidence-based study with a large number of patients, supporting the safety of SSRIs in pregnancy.”
True Experts Weigh In
“If a woman has been informed that an SSRI will not harm the fetus, then she has been misinformed,” says Dr Grace Jackson, author of “Rethinking Psychiatric Drugs: A Guide to Informed Consent,” and the new book, “Drug Induced Dementia: A Perfect Crime.”
“Research in non-human animal species and epidemiological human studies suggest that SSRIs pose direct and indirect risks to the embryo and fetus,” she reports, “especially to the formation of the brain, heart, and craniofacial skeleton.”
“Because SSRIs pass through the placenta,” she explains, “they may exert toxic effects directly by inhibiting or accelerating the process of apoptosis (programmed cell death).”
“Alternatively, SSRIs may exert toxic effects indirectly by disrupting maternal levels of serotonin and other hormones (including prolactin, thyroid hormone, and glucose), all of which participate in the development of the unborn child,” Dr Jackson advises.
“For humans,” she states, “the long-term risks of prenatal or neonatal exposure to SSRIs remain uncharacterized.”
“However,” she says, “it should concern medical professionals that research in rodents has repeatedly and consistently revealed a link between early exposure to serotonin reuptake inhibitors and the emergence of potentially long-lasting decrements in learning, memory, and emotion (e.g., abnormal responses to fear-producing stimuli, diminished capacity for nurturance and attachment, and depression).”
Julie Edgington took Paxil for a couple of weeks before she learned she was pregnant. Despite stopping the drug in the first trimester, Julie’s son Manie was born with “Transposition of the Great Arteries,” a condition where the aorta and pulmonary arteries in the heart are switched.
At 8-days-old, Manie had to undergo a 12-hour open heart surgery. Because of the surgery, he has a leaky heart valve and has had to undergo several more medical procedures. Manie also must take drugs for high blood pressure.
For a long time, Julie did not know Paxil caused Manie’s heart defect. “The guilt I feel will never go away even though it was not my fault,” she states.
She has this warning for pregnant women. “If you think you are depressed now wait until your life is flipped upside down when your baby is born with a horrible birth defect like Manie.”
Shameless Self Promotion
On April 28, 2008, Kleiman posted a blog announcing that her new book would be out in September 2008, which began with the comment: “Shameless self-promotion alert! ;)”.
She also pasted an excerpt from the book’s forward in the blog, written by Dr Shari Lusskin. “There is a treasure trove of ‘clinical pearls’ in this eminently readable book which even the most experienced clinician will be able to use right away,” Lusskin told potential buyers of the book.
A glowing review of Susan Stone’s book by Lusskin appears on the Amazon website as well.
Lusskin is an adjunct Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Obstetrics, Gynecology, & Reproductive Sciences at Mt Sinai School of Medicine. Her specialty is “Psychopharmacology,” according to her bio on the New York University Langone Medical Center website.
She is also an advisory council member of Postpartum Support International and has her own website.
The “Pregnancy-related Mood Disorders,” section of Lusskin’s site warns that: “Panic Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and Eating Disorders may also develop or worsen during pregnancy and postpartum. Women with Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, or Schizoaffective Disorder are particularly vulnerable during pregnancy and postpartum.”
“Medications (pharmacotherapy) and psychotherapy (using interpersonal psychotherapy and cognitive-behavioral techniques) both play a role in the treatment of perinatal psychiatric disorders,” Lusskin advises on her site, with medications of course listed first.
A May 28, 2005 presentation brochure shows Lusskin is a paid speaker for the psychiatric drug makers, Glaxo, AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Wyeth.
Lusskin’s site explains that: “Reproductive Psychiatry is a specialty that helps women deal with psychiatric conditions that develop in relation to specific points in their reproductive life cycle, such as their menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and perimenopause.”
“Women with psychiatric disorders that develop in relation to their reproductive life cycle are an under-served population that can benefit from treatment which considers both psychiatric and gynecologic factors,” Lusskin’s site states.
“Dr. Lusskin is one of a small number of physicians in the United States who specialize in this relatively new field,” her website claims.
Victim of “Reproductive Psychiatry”
Bobby Fiddaman runs the popular website Seroxat Sufferers. Seroxat is sold as Paxil in the US. He recently forwarded a story sent to him by Kimberly S, a young mother who went to a doctor for problems with mood swings before her menstrual cycle, with permission to reveal the story.
In a nutshell, Kimberly was prescribed Paxil first, and ended up on Remeron, benzodiazapines, Ritalin, Zyprexa, Lithium and sleeping pills, before her 3-year nightmare that included two suicide attempts and two lengthily stays in mental institutions was over.
The suicide attempts occurred when she tried to go off Paxil, without any warning about the severe withdrawal syndrome that can lead people to become suicidal. After the second attempt, Kimberly was on life-support for 3 days and then transferred to a mental institution where nothing she said was taken seriously because of course by now she was considered too mentally ill to be believable. She explains this situation as follows:
“When you are suffering from any kind of mental illness you have no credibility. If you get angry you are mental. If you cry it’s because you are mental. If you complain it’s because you are mental and all of this will wind you up on more medication that creates a vicious cycle you have little chance of breaking free from.”
“A psychiatric diagnosis is a prison sentence at first which can easily become a death sentence,” she warns. “You might not die physically but your soul and who you are dies eventually if you don’t break free from it.”
Kimberly finally found a doctor who alerted her to the Paxil withdrawal syndrome and helped her taper off the drug. “Had he not I don’t know where I would be today,” she says. “Probably 7 feet under.”
However, Kimberly was on her own when she stopped taking the other drugs. “I was by myself and at home on the floor, in a pool of sweat and vomit, screaming at those fierce anxiety attacks and the debilitating memories of everything that had happened,” she recalls.
“There were many times I wanted to give up and go back on those drugs because it was hell getting off,” she says. “There were times I did not think I was strong enough and my poor kids had already endured enough.”
But Kimberly did not give up, and today she is living a drug free normal life with her children, back at work and healthy, she reports.
July 31, 2009
The Mothers Act Disease Mongering Campaign – Part III
In an article titled, “Disorders Made To Order,” in the July 2002 issue of Mother Jones Magazine, Brendan Koerner described the “modus operandi” of marketing a disease rather than selling a drug, “typical of the post-Prozac era.”
“The strategy [companies] use-it’s almost mechanized by now,” said the late Dr Loren Mosher, a San Diego psychiatrist and former official at the National Institute of Mental Health, in the article.
“Typically, a corporate-sponsored “disease awareness” campaign focuses on a mild psychiatric condition with a large pool of potential sufferers,” Koerner noted.
“Prominent doctors are enlisted to publicly affirm the malady’s ubiquity,” he said. “Public-relations firms launch campaigns to promote the new disease, using dramatic statistics from corporate-sponsored studies.”
“Companies fund studies that prove the drug’s efficacy in treating the affliction, a necessary step in obtaining FDA approval for a new use, or ‘indication,'” he wrote.
“Finally, patient groups are recruited to serve as the “public face” for the condition, supplying quotes and compelling human stories for the media; many of the groups are heavily subsidized by drugmakers, and some operate directly out of the offices of drug companies’ P.R. firms,” Koerner explained.
The disease focused on in Koerner’s article was generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD. The PR firm credited with orchestrating the successful campaign of selling the disease and Paxil to treat it, was Cohn & Wolfe, working for GlaxoSmithKline.
As an ex-employee of Cohen & Wolfe, Katherine Stone serves well as one of the “public faces” for the Mothers Act disease mongering campaign, complete with her own website, Postpartum Progress.
“This is the most widely-read blog in the U.S. on depression & anxiety during pregnancy & postpartum,” Katherine announces on the first page of her site.
She serves on the board of directors of Postpartum Support Internation, as the public relations outreach chairwoman, and provides live links on Postpartum Progress to buy the books of all the “experts” profiting off their self-created industry of “reproductive psychiatry.”
In a July 11, 2008, posting titled, “Postpartum Depression By The Numbers,” Katherine states that, “more women will suffer from postpartum depression and related illnesses this year than the combined number of new cases for men and women of tuberculosis, leukemia, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy.”
Advice for Healthcare Professionals
On Postpartum Progress, the public face, Katherine, provides a link to a down-loadable copyrighted document titled, “Six Things Every Healthcare Professional Should Know About Pregnancy & Postpartum Depression & Anxiety.”
In point one, she states: “Postpartum depression is only one in a spectrum of perinatal mental illnesses. One size does not fit all.”
“Perinatal mood and anxiety disorders include antepartum depression and anxiety, postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, postpartum OCD, postpartum psychosis and postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder,” Katherine informs “Healthcare Professionals”.
In point six, she uses the “screen” word and states: “It is important to screen because you can’t tell by looking.”
In point five, the public face tells the professionals: “The sooner your patient gets treatment the better,” and writes a whole paragraph filled with the following misleading and false disease mongering comments:
“Many recent studies show that both the physical and emotional health of untreated women and their children are negatively impacted over the long term. Babies whose mothers have untreated depression during pregnancy, for instance, are twice as likely to be born pre-term, twice as likely to go to the NICU and have a 50% higher risk of developmental delay. It is important to identify sufferers as early as possible to avoid such complications where possible.”
“Together,” she claims, “perinatal mood and anxiety disorders are the number one complication of childbirth.”
On another webpage, she provides answers to the question: “What are Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders?” and shows how easy it is to pin a money-making diagnosis of PSTD on vulnerable and naive new mothers.
For “Postpartum Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder,” Katherine 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.”
A March 2009, “Practice Guideline for the Treatment of Patients With Acute Stress Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder,” by David Benedek, MD, Matthew Friedman, MD, PhD, Douglas Zatzick, MD, and Robert Ursano, MD, reports that, “SSRIs are recommended as first-line medication treatment for PTSD.”
“Benzodiazepines may be useful in reducing anxiety and improving sleep,” the authors state.
“In addition to being indicated in patients with comorbid psychotic disorders, second-generation antipsychotic medications … may be helpful in individual patients with PTSD,” it says. “Anticonvulsant medications … , α2-adrenergic agonists, and β-adrenergic blockers may also be helpful in treating specific symptom clusters in individual patients.”
Another Human Face
Another public face in the Mothers Act disease mongering campaign is Lauren Hale. Hale is the Postpartum Support International coordinator for Georgia. She also runs a website called “Sharing the Journey,” and in unison with all the others, writes blogs parroting the agreed upon talking points of the campaign.
“This Blog Supports the Mothers Act,” is prominently posted on her site. Hale also tells visitors: “A Girl’s Gotta Eat! Click the icon above to make a donation to support this hard-working blogger!”
Of course, Hale’s site also provides links to all the other sites that make up the internet chain of disease mongers, such as Postpartum Support International and Postpartum Progress, and the two treatment centers owned by social workers, Karen Kleiman and Susan Stone, recruiting potential customers through the websites “Postpartum Stress Center,” and “PerinatalPro.”
In fact, a quick count on Hale’s site shows links to a total of 10 different websites with “PPD,” in their names, and 11 more with “Postpartum Depression,” in their title.
On July 15, 2009, Hale described the legislation as follows: “The MOTHER’S Act as it reads in the current version would provide funds for a public awareness campaign, education campaign for caregivers, increase availability of treatment options and entities as well as require the current Secretary of Health & Human Services to conduct a study regarding the validity of screening for Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders.”
This statement is a typical example of the disease mongering complained of because nowhere in the bill does it say a study will be conducted on the “validity of screening for Postpartum Mood & Anxiety Disorders.” The “conditions” are defined as “postpartum depression” and “postpartum psychosis” only.
Hale takes the campaign to a whole new level on her site in being the most prolific promoter of the notion that new dads also suffer from postpartum depression and need treatment. For instance, a link on her site takes readers to a pamphlet with a warning: “Don’t Forget about DAD!”
“Dads too can suffer from Paternal Postnatal Depression (PPND) and need to be on the lookout for signs and symptoms of this increasingly occurring disorder,” it states, and describes what to look for in the new disorder, as follows:
“Signs that Dad may be suffering from PPND may include change in appetite, loss of interest in hobbies and other activities, feeling down for more than two weeks, increased irritability and frustration, guilt or shame surrounding these feelings, inadequacy feelings related to fatherhood, and insomnia.”
“If these symptoms do not go away after two weeks, Dad should be seen by a medical professional,” the pamphlet advises.
Hale even includes a special section on her site for the “Postpartum Dads Project,” and also provides links to websites called “Postpartum Dads” and “Postpartum Men.”
On January 19, 2008, Katherine also featured a blog on Postpartum Progress to announce a, “New Resource for Men with PPD,” and provided a link to the website “PostpartumMen.”
“This site was expressly created for men who experience postpartum depression themselves,” Katherine said. “Recent research has indicated that men can experience postpartum depression, or PPND (paternal postnatal depression), too, and this population has been underserved until now.”
This is but one example of the way the Mothers Act gang works. Once an item is posted on one website, the others will pick it up and repost it to flood the internet.
All the sites put out blogs promoting screening tools. On September 2008, Postpartum Support International ran the news flash: “3 Questions Can Spot Possible Postpartum Depression.”
A three-item anxiety sub-scale of the Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale turned out to be a better screening tool than the two other abbreviated versions which are almost the same as the commonly used Patient Health Questionnaire, PSI reported.
The same day, Katherine repeated the story with the headline: “Researchers Find 3-Question Screening Test Effective in ID’ing PPD.”
The StorkNet website wrote: “Postpartum Depression: Three Simple Questions to Ask Yourself,” for the same pop quiz. “A simple new 3-question test has proven very reliable at detecting postpartum depression,” it reported.
In a July 8, 2009, blog, Hale reported on the latest hot screening tool. “This morning I discovered an iPhone app which includes the Edinburgh Postpartum Depression Scale along with three other depression scales,” she wrote.
“Chances are many new moms either have an iPhone or know someone who does,” she said. “What’s really cool about this app is that it stores the last 30 entries so you can take the results straight to your doctor.”
“Speaking of doctors,” she continued, “if you’re a professional, you too can get this app for your iPhone as well so if you’re faced with a new mom who doesn’t seem to be doing very well, you can screen on the spot without having to hunt down a screening tool in your office.”
“Pretty cool, huh?” Hale wrote.
Undiagnosed Foot in Mouth Disease
As a “public face” in the campaign, Katherine regularly and dutifully discusses her bout with “postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder,” which began with her first pregnancy in 2001, and has now apparently required eight years of treatment, including five antidepressants and two antipsychotics, according to her reporting on Postpartum Progress.
In a June 2004, Newsweek article, Katherine publicly discussed how she ended up getting treatment for OCD, and made sure to tell readers: “I’ve written my congressman and senators and asked them to pass the Melanie Blocker-Stokes act.”
“I took advantage of my company’s employee-assistance program and called the help line,” she said. “God blessed me that day. They put me in touch with a wonderful therapist who saw me immediately and recognized what was wrong.”
“As it turns out, I had postpartum obsessive-compulsive disorder,” Katherine stated.
In describing her treatment, she wrote, “in my case, that meant taking an antidepressant and going for weekly therapy sessions.”
“For a while I was convinced that I’d never be the same person again,” she noted.
“But I did everything my doctor told me to do, and I’m now back to the old me,” Katherine told readers of Newsweek in June 2004.
On February 11, 2005, Katherine posted a “Letter to Bill O’Reilly,” on her website, which she sent in response to segment on PPD on his show.
“Unless I’m misunderstanding him,” she wrote in her blog, “he doesn’t want to seem to admit that this is a real illness that many women suffer.”
In the “Dear Bill” letter, Katherine wrote in part:
“I saw your segment last night on postpartum depression. I can understand your concern over making sure that true criminals don’t misuse mental illness defenses. I share that concern. But let me assure you, this is as real an illness as any other.”
“I am 35 years old, and am the former Director of Experiential Marketing at The Coca-Cola Company. I now run my own marketing consultancy. I tell you this so you’ll know I am a bright, successful young woman.”
“Sir, you have to understand that I am as competent as they come and a fairly accomplished young person,” Katherine told Bill.
“Before the birth of my son, I had never been treated for or experienced any mental illness,” she said. “Upon his birth, I spiraled into a darkness so horrific I thought I’d never be the same again,” and further described the OCD disorder in stating: “I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I had uncontrollable thoughts of harming my son.”
“I can’t explain to you why I thought of smothering my son with a burp cloth,” Katherine said. “I had never had such disturbing thoughts in all my life.”
“I felt like a defective human being who would be sent away forever never to see my loved ones again,” she wrote.
“In fact,” she said, “all I needed was a competent psychiatrist, some medication and some therapy,” in making treatment sound so simple.
“I am now perfectly fine,” Katherine informed Bill in 2005, giving the definite impression that she was cured, four years after the bout began in 2001.
In a webpage titled, “The Art of Psychiatric Medication,” originally published with a date of June 8, 2006, Katherine told readers:
“I’ve taken many medications, including Effexor, Celexa, Seroquel, Risperdal, Wellbutrin, Luvox, Cymbalta, etc.”
“Throughout all of them I was on the road to recovery,” she said. “Some just worked better than others at treating my symptoms.”
A few months later, in a September 5, 2006 blog, Katherine was praising antidepressants again, and was seemly annoyed that Brooke Shields accepted an apology from Tom Cruise.
“So Tom Cruise has now apologized to Brooke Shields, and she accepted his apology,” Katherine wrote.
“Good for them both,” she added.
“I, on the other hand, have not forgiven Tom Cruise,” she said.
“It hurt all of us when he dragged our illness into the spotlight and essentially made us feel awful for having taken medications that were prescribed to us by legitimate physicians in order to recover,” she stated, using the term, “legitimate physicians.”
“It’s okay with me that he doesn’t believe in antidepressants,” she wrote. “No problem.”
“But don’t judge me because I do believe in them,” Katherine said.
“Don’t make me look bad in the public eye because I had to take them,” she wrote, with the verb “had,” making it sound like she “used” to take antidepressants.
“They saved my life,” Katherine announced.
In a November 30, 2006 blog, she wrote: “I agree with the premise that every illness doesn’t require medication.”
“But the truth is, no doctor or mental health industry or advertisement or any other such thing made me think or do anything,” she said, claiming she made the right choices about medications.
“I made the choices about being treated, working with my doctor, and I recovered,” Katherine wrote in late 2006, once again leaving the impression that she was cured with the past tense “recovered.”
On June 6, 2007, Katherine boldly told her readers, “I and thousands of other women like me are evidence that, when in postpartum crisis, antidepressants can save lives and restore families.”
“I used meds, and yes it took me several to find the one that worked for me, but once it did it was GREAT,” she wrote, without mentioning the names of the five she tried, and with the term “used meds” in past tense as if she was through with antidepressants.
“I’m proud of the choices I made,” Katherine once again claimed.
“I wouldn’t change them for a second,” she proudly pronounced in mid-2007.
In April 2009, after all of the above comments, and after the reporting of her admissions in the Art of Medication article that she took two antipsychotics, and not one but five antidepressants, to treat a single diagnosis of postpartum OCD, Katherine removed the names of the drugs from the article and inserted the following paragraph:
“My psychiatrist gave me seven different medications, partially because he didn’t know what he was doing and partially because some of them didn’t work for me.
“When I finally found a trained doctor, we developed a plan that worked, including one antidepressant and weekly therapy.”
In further explaining her supposedly erroneous comments in the Medication webpage, that remained on her site for women to read for nearly three years, on April 12, 2009, Katherine wrote: “What I also should have said, though, is that my first psychiatrist who put me on all those meds was horrible and untrained and a total nightmare.”
“It wasn’t until I left him and found someone who had specific experience in perinatal mood and anxiety disorders that I got a whole lot better,” she said, in reference to apparently firing a “male” doctor.
Katherine then identified the new doctor as a female. “She and I talked in depth about the variety of treatments available to me,” Katherine said, “I chose to take medication and attend therapy weekly, and the speed limit on my road to recovery went from 35 to 70 mph.”
However, less than two years ago, on June 14, 2007, Katherine identified her doctor as a male, in a blog with the headline: “Upcoming Event in Asheville Features My Psychiatrist!”
This announcement was for a seminar held for “prescribing clinicians,” titled, “Postpartum Mood Disorders: A Systemic Approach to Biopsychosocial Treatment.”
“The key speaker will be Dr. Jeffrey Newport, associate director of the Emory Women’s Mental Health Program here in Atlanta and also my psychiatrist!!!!”, Katherine wrote in her blog.
“I have firsthand knowledge that Dr. Newport rocks,” she told readers. While it may be true that Newport “rocks,” as far as helping Katherine change her obsessive and compulsive thought processes, years of rocking with the good doctor has seemingly failed.
The story on Postpartum Progress is that: “In 2001 she suffered postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder after the birth of her first child.”
On April 17, 2009, Katherine wrote that she continues to take “meds” (plural) “for my OCD.” Other blogs mention Cymbalta and that she took antidepressants to “prevent” PPD during her second pregnancy. In a blog describing her treatment, she wrote: “I saw my fabulous psychiatrist at Emory every month (Hi Dr. Newport!).”
A June 8, 2009, article titled, “Is Congress Ignoring Unintended Consequences?”, contains this statement: “Stone suffered from postpartum obsessive compulsive disorder after the birth of her son and was prescribed an anti-depressant that she said provided immeasurable support.”
In this article, Katherine is a source plugging the Mothers Act. A google search, with the story’s headline in quotes, brings up 26 hits on the internet, and once again misleads women into believing that she only took a single antidepressant to recover from postpartum OCD.
Critics of disease mongering say the costs, duration, risks and benefits of treatment should be fully discussed when reporting on disorders and their treatments. Nowhere in the endless blogs written for Postpartum Progress, and reposted on other websites, over the past 5 years, is there any mention of the costs incurred by Katherine for all the “treatment” she received between 2001 and 2009, to “recover”.
In summary, the first doctor, who she now alleges was a flunky, was a male. Next, a second female doctor reportedly came on the scene, and then another male was listed in 2007. That’s three doctors, that we know of. Each prescribed drugs and Katherine merrily attended weekly therapy sessions for years on end, according to her own reporting.
The public deserves to know how much money is at stake for the pharmaceutical industry here. The price of Eli Lilly’s Cymbalta at a middle dose was $391 for ninety capsules on May 6, 2009, at DrugStore.com, meaning a years worth would run $4,692.
Of the other antidepressants Katherine was prescribed, Weyth’s Effexor cost $197 for 90 tablets, 30 tablets of GlaxoSmithKline’s 24-hour Wellbutrin was $202, and Luvox CR cost $135 for 90 pills, in December 2008 at DrugStore.com. One hundred tablets of 20mg Celexa sold for $355 in July, 2009.
For the two antipsychotics, in April 2009, Janssen’s Risperdal cost $716 per 90 tablets, and 100 tablets of AstraZeneca’s Seroquel cost $839. A year’s worth of Seroquel alone would add up to $10,068 on DrugStore.com.
The latest shrink identified by Katherine, Jeffrey Newport, has received research support from Lilly, Glaxo, Janssen, and Wyeth, and has served on speaker’s bureaus for AstraZeneca, Lilly, Glaxo, Pfizer, and Wyeth, according to an August 2007 disclosure for a study in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
The disclosures do not reveal the amounts paid to Newport by each drug maker.
However, Newport is the associate director of Emory University’s Women’s Program, and recently revealed information on his boss, the director, Zachary Stowe, may shed some light on the potential earning power of Newport.
Stowe is the latest addition to a long list of psychiatric researchers under investigation by the US Senate Finance Committee for not disclosing the money they were paid by drug companies, while conducting federally funded studies on psych drugs.
Much of Stowe’s research specifically focused on the use of drugs with pregnant and nursing mothers and Newport is a co-author on many papers.
Senate records show Stowe received roughly a quarter of a million dollars from one drug maker, Glaxo, for giving mostly promotional talks on Paxil, in 2007 and 2008 alone. And like Newport above, Stowe is a paid speaker for numerous drug companies.
As chairman of Emory’s psychiatry department, Dr Charles Nemeroff, was boss to both Newport and Stowe, until he was forced to give up his chair in 2008, after the Finance Committe found he failed to report at least $1.2 million of the $2.8 million he earned from drug makers between 2000 and 2007, including over $800,000 from the Paxil maker.
With links to its website, the Emory program has been promoted as the top women’s program in the US for years, by nearly all the major Mothers Act disease mongering sites.
The total amount a woman would have to spend on office calls for the prescribing physician and the therapy sessions attended by Katherine over a period of 8 years is impossible to estimate.
In the Art of Medication article, she told women that “expecting to get better in a week is unrealistic.”
“What you can expect is to get less sick over time until you get back to who you were before you got sick,” she said. “For some people that takes a couple of months, for some people longer.”
Some women might think that eight years of taking drugs and seeing mental health professionals is quite a bit longer than “a couple of months.”
Queen of the Depression Bloggers
Katherine’s website was selected as one of the top 10 depression blogs by PsychCentral in both 2007 and 2008, according to her website bio.
The CEO and founder of the PsychCentral website is psychologist, John Grohol, an avid supporter of the Mothers Act. In fact, he often allows Katherine to repost entire articles, written for Postpartum Progress, on PsychCentral.
However, a review of Grohol’s website reveals a few potential profit motives behind pumping up Katherine’s status and publicly listing her as “top 10” depression blogger two years in a row, to draw women to his website.
In fact, PsychCentral appears to be running a one-stop internet treatment center with 24 hour service online. For starters, Grohol’s provides a link for potential patients to: “Consult an online therapist.”
When clicking on the link, the webpage states: “Our certified personality and emotional disorder therapists can help.”
The good news is: “All sessions are private and start free.” However, in checking the “services” for the first three listed “experts,” the chat prices were listed as $1.50, $1.99 and $2.00 per minute, at the end of the description.
With a vivid imagination, it may be possible to form a deep therapeutic relationship by looking in eyes of the counselors in the pictures on Grohol’s website, while listening to voice on the phone, and blocking out the fact that every word is costing $2.00 per minute.
Being the service sounds eerily similar to psychic hotlines, it may be safe to assume that the “therapy” will not be billable to insurance and public health care programs and a credit card might be required for each chat.
As a further service to potential patients visiting PsychCentral, Grohol posts ads for drug companies. The antipsychotic, Abilify, is prominently advertised with a statement saying, “Adding ABILIFY to your antidepressant may help,” along with a link to the drug’s website.
The Abilify site claims: “A clinical study showed that approximately two-thirds of those diagnosed with depression did not achieve adequate symptom relief after taking an antidepressant alone.”
“If you’re currently taking an antidepressant, it may not be providing you with adequate symptom relief,” the website advises.
“Ask your healthcare professional if adding ABILIFY is right for you,” it tells readers. The cost of Abilify at DrugStore.com was $1,230 for ninety 10mg tablets in April, 2009.
Grohol’s site also features an ad for the antidepressant, Cymbalta, where people can: “Sign up for a free sample of Cymbalta with your doctor’s prescription,” and click on a link to “Get the Voucher Now!”
People reading the Cymbalta ad can even get instructions on: “What should I talk about with my healthcare provider?”
For the 66% of the people who click on the link for Abilify, and decide they do not “achieve adequate symptom relief,” with Cymbalta, at a cost of $391 a month, they can add Abilify to the mix for a total of only $1,621.
Disease mongering through “treatment resistant depression” is the latest rage. With Pharma funded front groups flooding the internet with the online depression screenings, combined with websites like Grohol’s posting free drug coupons, this marketing coup has turned into one of the most effective customer recruitment schemes for everyone involved.
However, before gulping down a grand a month worth of psych drugs for “treatment resistant depression,” or paying $2 a minute to chat about “personality or emotional disorders,” people may want to reconsider the diagnosis after reading comments posted over on the, “Carlat Psychiatry Blog,” on May 13, 2009, by Gina Pera, one of the top disease mongers for “legal speed freaks,” and hawker of a book on Adult ADHD.
“Maybe a sizeable majority of these “treatment resistance depression” and “personality disorders” populations are people with ADHD,” she wrote. “Especially in women.”
On July 15, 2009, Pera offered further advice about the Mothers Act on PsychCentral. “My only concern with the Mothers Act is that it is too narrowly focused on depression, specifically PPD,” she said.
“Conservatively,” she wrote, “10 million adults in the U.S. have ADHD, but only one tenth know that they do, and only a fraction of those are pursuing treatment.”
“Presumably, half of those 10 million are women. (And again, that is an extremely conservative estimate.),” Pera said.
“It would make more sense to me to screen new mothers for all mental illness, because if they go in looking for PPD or depression, well, you know what they say about a hammer and everything looking like a nail,” she continued.
“Moreover, I would like to see new fathers screened as well,” she added.
The above advice from Pera, on the type of screening that should be implemented via the Mothers Act, for both mothers and fathers, comes from “an award-winning print journalist based in the San Francisco Bay area,” according to a bio on her website.
In a July 2, 2009, blog on her own site, Pera posted, “A quick note to let you know that yesterday Amazon reduced the price of my book, Is It You, Me, or Adult A.D.D.? Stopping the Roller Coaster When Someone You Love Has Attention Deficit Disorder — from $21.95 to $14.26.”
Self-Made Expert for Hire
Katherine is now listed on LinkedIn for hire, with an online summary that reads: “Talented, award-winning marketing and PR professional returning to the workforce after brief sabbatical as full-time mom.”
“Skills include experiential marketing concept development, brand positioning, marketing strategy, social networking, and public relations campaign development and execution,” she writes.
“Used break from full-time employment to become an expert at social media, creating most widely-read blog in the U.S. in her niche,” the summary states in obvious reference to Postpartum Progress.
Last year, Katherine was honing her skills by giving one-hour talks on, “Project Healthy Moms: What You Need To Know About Perinatal Mood Disorders,” paid for with a $20,000 grant from Zoloft-maker, Pfizer, funneled through the Georgia chapter of Mental Health America, a Big Pharma front group that receives millions of dollars from psych drug makers every year.
On her website, Katherine posts a live link to the Georgia group, for which she says, “this is my home chapter for MHA, so I’m biased!”
In March 2008, Lauren Hale teamed up for a seminar titled, “Managing Perinatal Depression: Reappraising the Risks,” with Katherine, and speaker Jeffrey Newport. Learning objectives were listed in part as: “Delineate the fetal/infant risk of exposure to maternal depression and review currently available antidepressants,” and “Propose a comprehensive treatment model for perinatal depression.”
“Katherine Stone and Lauren Hale discuss their experience with postpartum depression,” a summary for the event said. The seminar was sponsored by a treatment facility and the MHA Georgia group.
After the funneling of Pfizer money to Katherine was exposed, she claimed she did not get the whole twenty grand. But the amount she received averaged out to be roughly $350 per talk, which is not too shabby considering her “human face” role in the disease mongering campaign.
A petition for people who want to sign on to support the Mothers Act is provided on a website called, “GoPetition,” with a current “Public Signature List,” of 33 names.
The latest signature was added on July 13, 2009.
GoPetition says the petition was posted by “Heidi,” presumably referring to signature, Heidi Koss-Nobel, telling members of Congress to: “Please pass this important bill to protect thousands of families from the undiagnosed suffering of pregnancy and postpartum depression.”
However, some of the viewable comments posted along side the supporter’s signatures seem a bit odd. For example, the comment for the name, “BestSellersq,” reads: “This is the best viagra shop! The best price for viagra. Please visit it!”
Signature Mindy Brooks wrote: “This is insane! Where will it end?”
But on the other hand, supporter, Terri Buysse, states: “This act is essential to help protect our children and to support uncounted numbers of women who suffer from devastating illnesses after giving birth.”
And Sarah Masterson wrote: “As the PSI coordinator for Washington, DC, as a mother and an advocate for mothers, I would like to join my colleagues in urging our members of Congress to pass the MOTHERS Act.”
Katherine signed the petition but apparently decided not to post a comment.
The young mother heading an organization of over 50 groups against the Act, Amy Philo, provides a petition for people against the Act to sign on her “Unite for Life,” website, which is then sent to members of Congress. At last check, the petition had about 12,600 viewable signatures.
The Mothers Act Disease Mongering Campaign – Part IV
The Mothers Act campaign has evolved into the most rabid gang of disease mongers seen in recent years, likely due to its 8-year existence.
In the 2002 paper titled, “Selling sickness: the pharmaceutical industry and disease mongering,” in the British Medical Journal, Ray Moynihan, Iona Heath, and David Henry, describe the mechanisms of the Mothers Act disease mongering campaign to a tee when explaining that:
“Within many disease categories informal alliances have emerged, comprising drug company staff, doctors, and consumer groups. Ostensibly engaged in raising public awareness about underdiagnosed and undertreated problems, these alliances tend to promote a view of their particular condition as widespread, serious, and treatable.”
“A key strategy of the alliances is to target the news media with stories designed to create fears about the condition or disease and draw attention to the latest treatment. Company sponsored advisory boards supply the “independent experts” for these stories, consumer groups provide the “victims,” and public relations companies provide media outlets with the positive spin about the latest “breakthrough” medication.”
The A Team
In review, the main leaders of the Mothers Act disease mongering campaign include Susan Dowd Stone and Karen Kleiman, two social workers who own treatment centers recruiting customers via their websites, PerinatalPro and Postpartum Stress Center, and who also sell books. The two most prominent “victims” or “human faces” in the campaign are Katherine Stone with the “Postpartum Progress,” website and Lauren Hale with a site called “Sharing the Journey.”
All the websites follow the lead of a group called, “Pospartum Support International,” and parrot the buzz words and phrases invented by the self-interested specialists and experts, such as “women’s reproductive mental health,” and “pregnancy related mood disorders,” and “reproductive psychiatry.”
Old Chemical Imbalance in the Brain Scam
On July 7, 2006, in discussing a press release for book in which: “Mothers share their challenges with sleep deprivation, anxiety, colicky and ill babies, and other issues that sent them into a downward spiral,” Katherine Stone wrote on Postpartum Progress:
“In my opinion, I consider chemical brain imbalances to be the source of sending us into a downward spiral, not colicky babies and sleep deprivation as the press release seems to infer. Those things just make the experience worse.”
Dr David Stein, a professor of psychology and criminal justice at Virginia State University, and author of, “Unraveling the ADD/ADHD Fiasco,” has taught psychopharmacology for 25 years. One of the greatest myths about mental disorders, is that they are caused by a chemical imbalance, he says.
“The myth is founded on some of the tricks that are pulled in so-called scientific research in psychology and psychiatry,” he explains.
“The manipulation of research has become one of the most powerful and most unethical marketing tools ever devised,” he says. “Not one study can be replicated at the testing labs of hospitals or by laboratories involved in clinical patient care.”
“Replication is a basic step for all sciences,” Dr Stein explains.
When a drug alleviates a certain condition, such as depression and anxiety, patients are told that the drug is correcting a chemical imbalance. “However, this type of logic is not permitted in true science,” Dr Stein reports.
To simplify the point, he provides the analogy of people drinking alcohol, which is a sedative drug, and experiencing relief from anxiety. “Can we say that alcohol clears up chemical imbalances that cause anxiety?”, he points out.
If so, Dr Stein says, “then the entire human race is running around with chemical imbalances.”
“This type of logic is not permitted within proper scientific circles,” he says. “Sadly, proper scientific circles are evaporating within psychiatry and psychology.”
As part of this overall disease mongering scheme, the Mothers Act campaign has now taken aim at new fathers. All the gals provide links to the “PostpartumMen,” website. And in return, PostpartumMen dedicates a whole webpage to promoting the Mothers Act, complete with a link that takes readers directly to the website of Susan Stone’s treatment center.
“PostpartumMen is a place for men with concerns about depression, anxiety or other problems with mood after the birth of a child,” according to its website.
Dr Will Courtenay runs the site. Courtenay is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and has served on the clinical faculty in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and the University of California, San Francisco, Medical School, according to his bio.
“Yes, men do get postpartum depression,” he writes on PostpartumMen.
“It’s a fact that most people – and even many health professionals – don’t know,” he claims.
“Depression, anxiety or other problems with mood can occur anytime during the first year of your child’s life,” he tells men.
“The truth is, depression, anxiety and other mood disorders are common,” he states. “In fact, they’re just as common – and just as real – as physical problems, like heart disease and diabetes.”
“It really pains me to see so many men suffering alone, in silence,” Courtenay says on PostpartumMen. “Especially since depression, anxiety and the other mental health problems that afflict us are treatable.”
For men, the newly coined disorder is called “paternal postpartum depression,” and referred to as “PPND.”
“Up to 1 in 4 new dads have PPND,” Courtenay tells readers on PostpartumMen. “In the United States alone, that amounts to 2,700 new fathers who become depressed every day.”
And as it turns out, Courtenay hosts a total of six websites for men, accessible with live links from PostpartumMen, including one for his “Men’s Health Consulting,” firm.
In advertising for this firm, he provides a webpage on, “Media Coverage of Dr. Will Courtenay,” and posts selective remarks and comments made regarding himself or PPND and men.
For instance, this description of himself was listed as coming from Newsweek: “An expert on why fathers can also become depressed after the birth of a child, and what couples can do about it. “
“Each day in the U.S., 1,000 new dads become depressed, and according to some studies that number is as high as 3,000,” was posted as coming from CNN.
According to the above, at 3,000 new dads per day, times 365 days year, a potential 1,095,000 new customers could be recruited each year for the “Reproductive Psychiatry” industry, via the PPND component of the disease mongering campaign alone.
On the Media Coverage page, Courtenay also provides a link to a May 14, 2008, Parent Map article titled, “Sad dads: postpartum depression in men,” in which he states: “Men need to know that this can happen to them, and that if it does happen to them, there are other people out there experiencing it, too.”
This article says Courtenay publishes a website about “postpartum depression among dads” called “www.saddaddy.com.” However, when clicking on the saddaddy link, PostpartumMen comes up today.
And surely by coincidence, Courtenay will soon have a new book for sale titled, “Sad Dads,” which he is currently writing, according to his bio on the consulting firm’s website.
“If you’d like to arrange an individual consultation with Dr. Courtenay, please call 415-346-6719,” the PostpartumMen website states.
And apparently postpartum depression in dads is catchy. “If you’re experiencing PPND, it increases the likelihood that your partner is also depressed,” Courtenay informs men on his website.
“It’s important that she get help for herself as well,” he kindly advises.
He then provides a link to a page with resources “specifically for women,” where Kleiman’s Postpartum Stress Center just happens to be listed as specializing “in the diagnosis and treatment of prenatal and postpartum depression and anxiety disorders,” along with a clickable link to the center’s website.
On the StorkNet website, where Kleiman dishes out disease mongering tidbits on a regular basis, she does her part to promote PPND by telling readers: “Yes, absolutely dads can get depressed after the birth of a baby. We just don’t hear a lot about it.”
“PPND is a very serious condition,” Courtenay states on PostpartumMen. “But it’s also a very treatable condition.”
“If left untreated,” he warns, “PPND can result in damaging, long-term consequences for yourself, your child, and your family as a whole.”
Men who think they might have it can click on a link and be screened right on the spot, for free no less.
“Do YOU have PPND? Complete the PPND Assessment and find out,” the website tell men.
In fact, Courtenay is running the “Dads’ Postpartum Depression Study,” on his website, “in collaboration with the Center for Men and Young Men at McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School.”
“You are invited to participate in a research study conducted by Dr. Will Courtenay, an internationally recognized scholar in understanding men,” the website tells men.
“Upon completion, you will receive a score from an assessment for postpartum mood disorders,” the consent form states. “This will allow you to determine whether you might be suffering from anxiety or depression.”
Respected Researchers support the Mothers Act
No psychotropic drug is FDA approved as safe for use by pregnant and nursing mothers, meaning every prescription written to these women is off-label. The drug makers cannot legally push their drugs for unapproved uses to doctors or consumers so they simply hire a few highly paid quacks to do it.
Then these quacks will drag a “human face” along for drama when giving seminars or public interviews. For instance, on February 26, 2009, Katherine wrote a Postpartum Progress blog with the headline: “Interview Today on Postpartum Depression & Related Illnesses”.
“Getting ready to go do interview with CNN/Turner Private Networks for the CNN Accent Health Network that appears in doctors’ offices and reaches more than 140 million viewers each year,” she told readers.
“They will also be interviewing Dr. Zachary Stowe from the Emory Women’s Mental Health Program,” Katherine added, with a live link to Stowe’s Emory program.
Not mentioned is the recently revealed matter that Stowe, the director of the Emory Women’s Program, made a quarter million dollars from the Paxil maker alone in 2007 and 2008, and failed to disclose the majority of those earnings to Emory University.
The “National Institute of Mental Health said it is reviewing Stowe’s activities, prompted by a letter from a U.S. Senate committee that said Stowe received $253,700 in 2007 and 2008 for “essentially promotional talks” for the drug maker GlaxoSmithKline,” the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on June 11, 2009.
One of Stowe’s emails that turned up in litigation, dated September 19, 2003, shows his nicer side when demanding to be paid for promotional talks he never gave for Glaxo because they were apparently canceled due to lack of interest.
“I do not want to be a prick,” he said, “but given the time and frustration, I think she should arrange to pay me for both talks, as noted in my last email to her.”
On October 17, 2008, Katherine appeared at a “Perinatal Depression Conference,” in Chicago with another “prominent speaker,” Dr Lee Cohen, director of the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Women’s Mental Health, and an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, put on by the Jennifer Mudd Houghtaling Postpartum Depression Foundation.
Other featured speakers who have appeared at seminars sponsored or co-sponsored by the same Foundation include Zachary Stowe, and Dr Katherine Wisner, according to the Foundation’s website.
In February 2006, Cohen was the lead author on a paper titled, “Relapse of Major Depression During Pregnancy in Women Who Maintain or Discontinue Antidepressant Treatment,” published in the “Journal of the American Medical Association,” for a study that claimed stopping antidepressants could greatly increase the risk of pregnant women relapsing into depression.
A few months after the study was published, the July 11, 2006, Wall Street Journal revealed the obvious motives of the “experts” who authored the paper in wanting pregnant women to stay on antidepressants.
The Journal reported that, “the study and resulting television and newspaper reports of the research failed to note that most of the 13 authors are paid as consultants or lecturers by the makers of antidepressants,” and “the authors failed to disclose more than 60 different financial relationships with drug companies.”
The Journal noted that Cohen was a longtime consultant to 3 antidepressant makers, a paid speaker for 7, and his research work was funded by 4 drug companies. Adele Viguera, associate director of the Mass General perinatal psychiatry program and professor at Harvard, also did not disclose a paid speaking relationship with Paxil maker GlaxoSmithKline.
Among the most significant absent disclosures found, were those of Dr Lori Altshuler, director of the Mood Disorders Research Program at UCLA, who was a speaker or consultant for at least five antidepressant makers. “Two of her colleagues — Vivien Burt and Victoria Hendrick — were also authors who didn’t report financial relationships they have with antidepressant makers,” the report said.
JAMA has required authors to list all financial interests since 1990, and publishes the disclosures. In an online editorial in July 2006, JAMA editor, Dr Catherine DeAngelis, announced her intention to enforce disclosure policies in part, by publicizing any author’s failure to follow the rules and specifically noted that 3 consecutive nondisclosures involved authors from Harvard, and included the Cohen study.
The financial ties of the authors to the drug makers was brought to the attention of JAMA by Dr Adam Urato, and a letter from Dr Urato was published in JAMA, stating that since the study dealt in part with the question of pregnant women stopping antidepressants, the readers should be aware of the potential for pro-drug bias.
In the case of SSRI use by pregnant women, the Journal noted that the industry-paid opinion leaders have become dominant authorities in the field, and explained that:
“They help establish clinical guidelines, sit on editorial boards of medical journals, advise government agencies evaluating antidepressants and teach courses on the subject to other doctors.”
Ironically, the only financial relationships disclosed were for Zachary Stowe and Jeffrey Newport of the Women’s Mental Health Program at Emory. However, nowhere was it revealed that Stowe might be raking in a quarter million dollars from each drug company, and Newport’s list of disclosures on financial ties to drug makers is every bit as long as Stowe’s.
In blogs on Postpartum Progress, Katherine Stone refers to Newport as her shrink.
Emory’s bio page for Newport shows he received an Eli Lilly Fellowship from the Society of Biological Psychiatry, an Eli Lilly Psychiatric Research Fellowship from the American Psychiatric Association, and a “Psychiatry Resident of the Year Award,” from Pfizer.
Newport also received a “Young Investigator Award,” from the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD). Eli Lilly’s 2007 grant reports shows a $15,000 donation to NARSAD in one quarter and second $15,000 grant in another. The 2008 grant report lists a $15,000 donation, two $5,000 grants, and another $100,000 donation to NARSAD.
In her book, “Perinatal and Postpartum Mood Disorders,” Susan Stone tells readers: “Respected university medical centers conducting research and offering education include Emory University School of Medicine (website address inserted) and Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Women’s Mental Health (website address inserted).”
On April 14, 2009, the Harvard’s website for the Mass General program posted a blog with the headline, “Postpartum Depression Legislation Still Needs Your Support,” with the message that “Susan Dowd Stone, fomer president of Postpartum Support International, has taken the lead in putting together a petition of those who support the MOTHERS Act,” and listed Susan’s email address to sign the petition.
The website for the Women’s program also includes a link to the “Screening for Mental Health,” website, where SMH is described as:
“SMH is a non-profit organization that provides screenings for depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, suicide intervention, alcohol problems and eating disorders. These programs are designed for community and mental health sites, employers, health care organizations, colleges/universities and high schools.”
Tax returns show drug companies have provided this “non-profit” with at least $4,985,925 up to 2008
Eli Lilly’s grant report for 2007, lists three grants of $24,250, $50,000 and $50,000 to SMH. In 2008, SMH received donations from Lilly worth $100,000.
And Speaking of Harvard
On September 27, 2007, the New York State Board for Professional Medical Conduct reported that Dr Jack Gorman, now the former president and psychiatrist-in-chief of Harvard University’s McLean Hospital, in charge of psychiatry at the other Harvard-affiliated hospitals in the Partners HealthCare system, was found guilty of negligence on more than one occasion for engaging in “inappropriate sexual contact with a patient.” A month later he surrendered his right to practice medicine in Massachusetts.
Gorman was instrumental in both selling the diseases, and promoting SSRIs to treat, Social Anxiety Disorder and General Anxiety Disorder, as well as “Compulsive Shopping Disorder,” in conjunction with Katherine Stone’s former employer, the Cohn & Wolfe public relations firm hired by Glaxo.
On June 9, 2008, with a headline, “Harvard doctors’ studies tainted,” the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review wrote: “Harvard Medical School doctors who helped pioneer the use of psychiatric drugs in children violated U.S. government and school rules by failing to properly disclose at least $3.2 million from drugmakers led by Johnson & Johnson and Eli Lilly & Co., a U.S. senator said.”
An investigation by the US Senate Finance Committee found Dr Joseph Biederman earned about $1.6 million from drug companies between 2000 and 2007, but failed to report about $1.4 million on forms filed with the school. Doctors, Thomas Spencer and Timothy Wilens, raked in a combined $2.6 million in the same time period.
Biederman, Spencer and Wilens are major proponents for the validity of the bogus “Adult ADHD” diagnosis, with claims that over 4% of the population in the US has it.
Moving right along, Dr Jeffrey Bostic, Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, and the medical director of the Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Project at Massachusetts General, became the “star spokesman” for Forest Labs in the promotion of Celexa and Lexapro for unapproved uses with children from 1999 through 2006, according to a lawsuit filed in February 2009, by the US Department of Justice, charging the company with defrauding the government of millions of dollars by illegally marketing the drugs off-label for kids.
Between 2000 and 2006, “Forest paid Bostic over $750,000 in honoraria for his presentations on Celexa and Lexapro,” the complaint reports. Bostic gave more than 350 Forest-sponsored talks and presentations in 28 states, many of which addressed the pediatric use of Celexa and Lexapro.
On March 13, 2009, Bloomberg News reported that, “Harvard Medical School doctor Lee Simon, accused last year of plagiarizing a scientific article on immune disease, has resigned.”
On April 10, 2009, the Wall Street Journal health blog announced: “More news on the research-fabrication front.” Robert Fogel, “a former assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, fabricated and falsified data in a study of sleep apnea in severely obese patients, the Office of Research Integrity at HHS said,” the Journal noted.
Fogel “has been disciplined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for falsifying as much as half of the data he used for a Harvard study on sleep apnea in morbidly obese patients,” the Harvard Crimson reported on April 9, 2009.
In March 2009, as part of the Senate Finance Committee investigation, Senator Charles Grassley asked Pfizer to provide details of its payments to roughly 150 faculty members at Harvard Medical School since January 2007.
Disease Mongering in the Media
In an April 11, 2006, paper in PLoS Medicine, Steven Woloshin and Lisa Schwartz of Dartmouth, point out that discussions “about disease mongering usually focus on the role of pharmaceutical companies—how they promote disease and their products through “disease awareness” campaigns and direct-to-consumer drug advertising, and by funding disease advocacy groups.”
“But diseases also get promoted in another way,” they note, “through the news media.”
“Unless journalists approach stories about new diseases skeptically and look out for disease mongering by the pharmaceutical industry, pharmaceutical consultants, and advocacy groups,” they warn, “journalists, too, may end up selling sickness.”
Journalists “should be very wary when confronted with a new or expanded disease affecting large numbers of people,” they said, in words certainly applicable to the Mothers Act disease mongering campaign.
“If a disease is common and very bothersome, it is hard to believe that no one would have noticed it before,” they aptly point out.
“Prevalence estimates are easy to exaggerate by broadening the definition of disease,” they advise.
“Journalists should also reflexively question whether more diagnosis is always a good thing,” they said. “Simply labeling people with disease has negative consequences.”
“Similarly, journalists should question the assumption that treatment always makes sense,” they state. “Medical treatments always involve trade-offs; people with mild symptoms have little to gain, and treatment may end up causing more harm than good.”
“Finally,” the authors note, “instead of extreme, unrepresentative anecdotes about miracle cures, journalists should help readers understand how well the treatment works (e.g., what is the chance that I will feel better if I take the medicine versus if I do not?) and what problems it might cause.”
“Sick people stand to benefit from treatment, but healthy people may only get hurt: they get labeled “sick,” may become anxious about their condition, and, if they are treated, may experience side effects that overwhelm any potential benefit,” they point out.
However, relaying any information in the media contrary to the propaganda pumped out by the rabid disease mongers running the Mothers Act campaign has proven to be easier said than done.
Time Magazine Blasted
In July, 2009, Time Magazine published a great article by Catherine Elton titled, “Postpartum Depression: Do All Moms Need Screening?”
Elton reported that “the Melanie Blocker-Stokes Postpartum Depression Research and Care Act, familiarly known as the Mothers Act, has passed the House and is headed for the Senate.”
“If it becomes law, it will mandate the funding of research, education and public-service announcements about postpartum depression (PPD) along with services for women who have it,” she explained.
In the article, Elton accurately reported the arguments put forth by people for and against the Act, and summarized the story of the Malanie Blocker-Stokes, the woman the bill is named after.
“The legislation has sparked surprisingly heated debate, dividing psychologists and spurring a war of petition drives aimed at either bolstering the bill or blocking its passage,” Elton pointed out.
“At the root of the dissent is the issue of screening,” she noted. “Does PPD screening identify cases of real depression or simply contribute to the potentially dangerous medicalization of motherhood?”
“Although the current version of the Mothers Act does not specifically include funding for PPD testing, an earlier one did (it was based on a New Jersey law that mandates universal PPD screening), and critics say the new act will naturally lead to greater use of screening if it passes,” she correctly reported
“Opponents of the bill contend that mental-health screens are notoriously prone to giving false positives — research suggests that as few as one-third of women flagged by a PPD screen actually have the condition — and say testing is a gambit by pharmaceutical companies to sell more drugs,” Elton accurately pointed out.
“But clinicians and researchers say screening is intended not as a diagnostic tool but as a way to identify patients who need further evaluation,” she said. “Studies suggest that PPD affects as many as 1 out of 7 mothers and that failing to treat it exposes women and their babies to unwarranted risk.”
“Postpartum depression is not a benign, uncommon thing. We screen all infants for [the genetic disorder] phenylketonuria, which is extremely rare. Why don’t we screen women for this?” asked University of Pittsburgh Medical Center psychiatrist Katherine Wisner, in the article.
“Why?” Elton wrote. “Because increased screening could lead to an increase in mothers being prescribed psychiatric medication unnecessarily.”
“That concern lies close to the heart of Amy Philo, 31, of Texas, who has become a leader of the anti–Mothers Act movement,” she reported.
“In 2004, shortly after her first son was born, he choked on his vomit and needed emergency treatment,” the article explained.
“Her son recovered, but after the incident, Philo became preoccupied with his safety and felt severe anxiety about protecting him — a common symptom of PPD.”
“After a one-minute conversation with my doctor,” Amy told Time, “he gave me Zoloft and said it would make me and my baby happy.”
“But Philo says she started having suicidal and homicidal thoughts, which got stronger when another doctor raised her dosage,” Elton wrote.
However, Amy explains that Zoloft caused problems that never existed, it did not “make them worse.”
The drug caused me to turn from “a worried mother after my son almost died in the ER, into a psychotic, homicidal, suicidal person,” she says, and it got worse when the dose was upped.
Eventually, Amy “weaned herself off the drug, and her violent feelings disappeared,” Time noted.
“What TIME failed to disclose is that Dr. Wisner is listed on the speakers bureau for Pfizer and Lilly, makers of the antidepressants, Zoloft and Prozac–drugs that carry Black Box label warnings about increased risks of suicide,” Vera Hassner Sharav, president of the Alliance for Human Research Protection, pointed out in a June 15, 2009, infomail to the group’s mailing list.
“Doctors who serve on pharmaceutical speaker’s bureaus give “promotional talks” on behalf of the company that pays them–the service they render for pay is to advertise drugs to other doctors–despite the confirmed evidence of these drugs serious hazards,” she explains.
Wisner is a main promoter of mandatory screening of new mothers for mental disorders. In a December 2006 editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Wisner recommended “that the United States take steps to implement a universal screening program, in which all women are screened between two- and 12-weeks postpartum,” her University reported in a December 5, 2006, disease mongering press release titled, “JAMA Editorial Notes Childbearing Presents Unique Vulnerability for Psychiatric Illness, Making Effective Screening, Education and Treatment Essential.”
“Those presenting with symptoms of a psychiatric disorder should be treated immediately after diagnosis,” Dr Wisner said in the news release.
Five months before her editorial called for “universal screening,” Medical News Today ran the headline: “Commonly Used Anti-depressants Safe And Effective For Treating Postpartum Depression,” on August 5, 2006, for a study led by Wisner in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology.
The Alliance for Human Research Protection is one of more than 50 advocacy groups in a coalition, organized by Amy Philo, that have come out against the Mothers Act. Other prominent members of the coalition include: AbleChild, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology; International Coalition For Drug Awareness; Law Project for Psychiatric Rights; and Mindfreedom International.
Amy Liked It
“Catherine Elton did a fantastic job of showing both sides in a fair light,” Amy wrote about the Time article in a blog on her website.
“She tells the truth about the treatment given to Melanie Stokes, about my experience with Zoloft, and about screening,” she pointed out.
“People who would otherwise never think twice if their doctor hands them a prescription for psych drugs will see this article and perhaps be saved because of it,” she noted.
“But this does not sit well with people who make a living marketing disorders to the public,” Amy wrote.
Plan of Attack
Likely unbeknownst to even Amy, a well-orchestrated plan of attack against Elton, Time Magazine, and Amy herself, was already well underway.
On July 12, 2009, Lauren Hale sprung into action on her website with the headline: “TIME Magazine misfires debate on MOTHER’S Act.”
Hale went so far as to give women specific instructions to make sure the Time article was not read, and wrote: “I am personally asking you to boycott – even asking if you can take the copy of TIME home from the doctor’s office in order to keep other moms from reading it!”
“And make sure you ASK – because just taking it would be stealing and that’s illegal,” she added.
“I happen to know that Ms. Elton did indeed interview fellow survivors who support the bill,” Hale informed readers of her website.
“One has to wonder then,” she said, “why did their stories not make it into the article? Was it length? Was it editing? Or was it intentional?”
“The only survivor story featured in this article is that of Amy Philo,” Hale wrote, “one of five recipients of an Outstanding Achievement for Mothers’ and Children’s Rights awards from the Citizens Commision on Human Rights or CCHR.”
“CCHR was founded in 1969 by none other than the Church of Scientology, well-known to oppose the entire psychiatric field,” she continued. On July 13, 2009, Amy responded to Hale in a blog on the Hale’s website with the following comments:
“Actually Lauren, I was one of five women to receive a group award called “Outstanding Achievement for Mothers’ and Children’s Rights.”
“The other women include two who lost children to antidepressants and ADHD medications, and two who were targeted by schools and CPS for refusing to allow their children to be drugged with antidepressants and ADHD meds.”
“I am by far the least of these women, but thanks for bringing up my award,” Amy said. “I was honored to be recognized by an amazing mental health watchdog group.”
“I am not a member of CCHR, but I have zero problem with their group,” she continued. “Their membership includes both Scientologists and non-Scientologists.”
“I think it’s hilarious that you choose to bring up Scientology,” Amy said. “Especially considering that many of your friends received awards from drug companies.”
On July 13, 2009, on Postpartum Progress, Katherine Stone ran the headline, “Time Magazine Skips the Facts about Postpartum Depression,” and wrote in part: “Time completely blew it.”
“The editors should really be ashamed of themselves for allowing an article on a topic that they clearly knew so little about to be published,” she stated.
Katherine concluded her blog by telling readers: “If you haven’t already written to them to express your displeasure, you should,” and conveniently provided a live link to send a letter to Time.
“If you’d like to send me your letter I will be happy to share it on Postpartum Progress,” she kindly told letter writers.
Katherine would in fact go on to post a total of 6 such letters (at last count), on PostPartum Progress over the next couple weeks.
On July 15, 2009, Hale reported on her website: “I fired off a letter to TIME over the weekend.”
“Katherine Stone has graciously published the full text over at her blog, Postpartum Progress,” she told readers, and “graciously” provided a link to her letter on Katherine’s site.
On July 15, 2009, Katherine also posted “A Mother’s Letter to Time Magazine,” from a women named Kim Rogers.
“For every Amy Philo, there are 100 women who support and understand the importance of the MOTHERS Act,” Kim wrote.”I was very disappointed to not even see one of them represented.”
On July 15, 2009, Medical News Today highlighted the discussion in the Time article with a report under the headline: “Bill Fuels Debate Over Universal Screening For Postpartum Depression.”
The next day, Hale posted a response on the Medical News website with a heading: “Over 50+ Women’s Advocates And Professionals Disappointed In TIME Article.”
“When the TIME article, “The Melancholy of Motherhood” was first published online, myself and several others immediately rallied to send TIME a letter to point out many of the article’s shortcomings,” she said.
“This letter, authored by none other than Katherine Stone of Postpartum Progress, advises TIME of several mistakes and oversights within the article,” she reported.
“All of us were deeply disheartened by the lack of information and one-sided presentation of this debate by TIME Magazine,” she continued.
“I am even further disappointed,” Hale said, “to read an even more lacking rehash of an already inaccurate article here at Medical News Today, a normally reliable resource.”
“I sincerely hope readers of this article will also choose to click the following URL to read our Open Letter to TIME in order to obtain further facts and information regarding the MOTHER’S Act and the TIME article,” she wrote, above a link to Postpartum Progress.
For starters, Katherine’s letter shows only 47 signatures. And of those, eleven women are listed with books to sell. Fifteen are hooked in with Postpartum Support International, as a past or current office holder, coordinator, or chairperson of affiliated groups, and many run websites or support groups
Only four names among the 47 signatures are listed as simply being a mother.
After Katherine posted the open letter to Time on Postpartum Progress, replies to it included one by a John Smith, who stated: “You know Time is abjectly derelict in its duty when it offers, as the “opposing side,” a person who seems to be an obvious Scientology sympathizer, Amy Philo.”
“Did they do no research at all? Do they not understand the importance of vetting sources?” Smith wrote.
“Do they not realize that mentally ill people don’t always have a grip on reality?” he stated, in an obvious dig against Amy, without mentioning that Amy was not mentally ill prior to taking Zoloft, after being screened by a home visiting nurse who told her take drugs to “prevent” PPD.
Internet Battle Breaks Out
On July 13, 2009, with a headline that read, “Motherhood is Not a Medical Disorder,” Dr Douglas Bremner discussed the Time article on a website called the “Drug and Health Safety News Blog.”
Bremner is a professor of psychiatry and radiology at Emory University, the director of the Emory Clinical Neuroscience Research Unit, and the director of Mental Health Research at the Atlanta VA Medical Center. He also wrote the not too Pharma friendly book titled, “Before You Take That Pill: Why the Drug Industry May Be Bad for Your Health.”
In discussing the Time article, Bremner pointed out that the Mother’s Act legislation was “initiated in response to the story of Melanie Blocker-Stokes, who leaped to her death from her hotel room in Chicago three months after the birth of her daughter.”
“Officially known as the Melanie Blocker-Stokes Post Partum Depression Research and Care Act, but referred to as the Mother’s Act, this legislation would require screening of all women post-partum for depression,” he wrote, and further explained:
“The problem with this is the attitude that being a mother is a risk factor for a psychiatric disorder. First of all, there is no evidence that women without a prior history of anxiety and depression have any increased risk of getting post partum depression. So to screen all moms as if giving birth is a risk factor for depression is ridiculous.”
“And whenever you start screening the general population,” he warned, “you get into problems with over-identification of people and an increase in the number of people that go on antidepressants.”
“I am opposed to mandatory screenings of the population, like Teenscreen, which are bonanzas for the pharmaceutical industry, but a major intrusion into the privacy and autonomy of American citizens,” Bremner said.
“In the case of Melanie Blocker-Stokes,” he wrote, “she had already been treated with multiple courses of psychotropic drugs and electro-convulsive therapy, so there is no reason to think that her life would have been saved by ‘screening'”.
On July 14, 2009, psychologist, John Grohol, took Bremner to task on the website, PsychCentral, with the headline: “Bremner’s False Claims about Postpartum Depression.”
“My BS alert goes off whenever someone tries to change the argument from a reasonable effort to help increase education and information about a stigmatized mental health issue, to hyperbole, suggesting that a piece of legislation is trying to turn motherhood into a psychiatric disorder,” Grohol reported.
“It goes off again,” he said, “when a professional makes an extraordinary claim like, ‘there is no evidence that women without a prior history of anxiety and depression have any increased risk of getting post partum [sic] depression.’”
“These are objective researchers calling for more screenings,” Grohol claimed. “Not politicians. And not people (or professionals) with a political agenda.”
The Mothers Act disease mongers will often initiate debates about topics like the Time article but then censor the comments of bloggers who try to post contrary views. When Bremner was blocked from responding to Grohol’s comments on PsychCentral, Bremner opened up the debate on his own site and stated: “Motherhood is STILL Not a Medical Disorder: Response to Critics.”
An all-out blogging war then erupted on the competing websites. On July 14, 2009, a guy named Frank Lee wrote on PsychCentral: “As far as I can tell, the ringleaders of the anti-Mothers Act movement are the anti-psychiatry, anti-medication, anti-the-brain-is-an-organ crowd.”
“Legitimate researchers and mental health experts may regard them as “Internet nutters,” in the words of one highly published psychiatrist,” he claimed. “Their views may sound so ridiculous to educated (and sane) people that they are dismissed outright.”
“But, unfortunately,” he noted, “they have a lot of time on their hands, and they gather force on the Internet and make their voices known — and LOUDLY.”
“The fact is,” Lee said, “a significant percentage of the American population has untreated mental disorders.”
“But many of them have been treated — and treated hamhandedly by ignorant physicians,” he added. ‘These former patients are angry — and LOUD.”
“Some, no doubt, blame their current disordered mental state on medication when in fact it is the natural progression of their disorder,” Lee said.
“Some are simply so selfish they will deprive others of the chance for medical care simply because treatment for theirs didn’t work out so well,” he wrote. “Selfish. Selfish. Selfish.”
“But that’s the way many mental disorders are — selfish,” Lee added.
“We need to recognize these people as the sick minds that they are,” he said, “or all progress is lost.”
“It’s a SCREENING, you wingnuts,” Lee announced.
“Learn to read,” he told the wingnuts. “And take your medication. And shut up.”
In writing on Bremner’s site, Gina Pera, who has a book to hawk on Adult ADHD, also basically claimed that statements and opinions about the Mothers Act, by Amy and people like her, should be ignored because these people are mentally ill.
“We cannot make public-policy decisions based on the stories of people who have been diagnosed with mental health disorders and treated for them,” she wrote.
“Sorry, but it’s true,” she added.
“Many mental health disorders limit objectivity,” Pera states, “so these people are just not the best judges of what has been done to them and why.”
“They can have their stories and they can share them,” she said. “But we can’t make policy on this kind of hearsay and paranoia.”
On PsychCentral, the mental health expert Pera further explained: “To those who contend that the mentally ill always know they are mentally ill, that flies entirely in the face of all that we know about anosognosia and the denial of illness.”
“Mental illness can — and often does — limit accurate perception of self and others,” she said. “It’s just a fact.”
In a July 15, 2009, post on PsychCentral, John Smith jumped on the bandwagon and wrote: “These bloggers who pander to the Scientology crowd (and their mentally ill ilk) are simply seeking the spotlight, in my opinion. Shameless self-promotion, at the expensive of accurate information.”
“They’re whipping up the hornets’ nest and taking no responsibility for their actions” he said. “Despicable.”
In a second blog posted immediately after the first, Smith said: “Check out Ms. Philo’s connection with the Scientology front’s ‘Natural News.'”
“As if it’s not obvious she’s mentally unstable,” he wrote.
“The idea that Time magazine would give her a platform is ridiculous, as if she represents the “other side” of the issue,” Smith said. “She sings straight from the Scientology songbook: off-key.”
After allowing all the attacks to be posted on his site about Amy, when Amy posted truthful information such as Katherine Stone being a paid speaker with money from Zoloft maker Pfizer, Grohol wrote a blog basically warning Amy to knock it off or she would not be allowed to post comments on his site.
“We don’t allow ad hominem or personal attacks here,” he said, “So I suggest that if you want to engage in such, you go elsewhere for your enjoyment.”
It was at this point that Evelyn Pringle (me) felt compelled to enter the debate and wrote: “This from a someone who has allowed people to posted snide remarks and inuendoes to discredit Amy, or anyone else with an opposing view, who has been diagnosed with a mental disorder, rightfully or wrongfully, all over the internet, including here.”
“These people verify everything I have warned about in my articles,” she said. “Once a woman is tagged with a mental illness diagnosis via the Mothers Act, she will lose all credibility for life.”
“In the Mothers Act disease mongering campaign we now have social workers, running treatment centers with websites, diagnosing mental disorders, with 2 and 3 question screening tools, and advising women on which drugs they recommend,” Pringle wrote on PsychCentral on July 16, 2009.
“It’s hard enough to accept that the nation’s mental health is gauged on disorders defined by a single 38,000 member psychiatric professional group,” she said, “delegating the treatment of mental illness to social workers, with a doctor signing off on the diagnosis for billing purposes, is not acceptable.”
Pringle’s comments were also soon blocked on Grohol’s website.
But on July 20, 2009, she wrote on Bremner’s website: “I think every blogger who brings up Scientology should identify their religious faith for the record.”
“As I’ve said many times, I am not a fan of any organized religion, and disagree with the practices of many, but I fail to see what religious beliefs have to do with opposing the Mothers Act legislation,” she wrote.
“For instance,” she said, “I always thought it was ridiculous that Catholics were not allowed to eat meat on Fridays (when I was young), get divorced, or use birth control (to name a few).”
“However, being my father was a firm believer in the Catholic religion, I never felt the need to belittle his faith,” she wrote. “I simply decided not to be a Catholic when I grew up.”
“Nor do I feel the need to preface peoples’ name with their religion in a low-ball attempt to win a debate,” Pringle said.
“I disagree with the beliefs of many other religions but who am I to say which one of the world’s millions of religions is correct,” she added.
“Trying to use Scientology as a smoke-screen is really getting old,” Pringle said. “Anyone who is a member of an organized religion should be required to identify that affiliation if they want to make Scientology an issue in this debate.”
On July 22, 2009, a blogger on Bremner’s site named Lisa wrote: “Dr. Bremner, just my opinion, but I suspect the reason you riled Dr. Grohol has to do with the fact that he can’t very well blame your opposition to the Mother’s Act on Scientology or Anti-psychiatry.”
“I wish the debate over this bill didn’t have to devolve into that,” she said. “It’s so tiring.”
Grohol’s Internet One-stop
As noted previously in this series, Grohol, the guy supporting “objective researchers calling for more screening,” is operating a profitable one-stop treatment center on the internet with PsychCentral, where people can get therapy from “live” online “experts” 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, as well as coupons for free samples of psychiatric drugs, with instructions on what to discuss during doctors appointments.
Grohol’s one-stop even provides links to quizzes for people to self-screen not only for depression, but for Adult ADHD, anxiety, OCD, PSTD, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and just about every other so-called mental disorder known to mankind.
One helpful link takes potential customers to the: “Do I Need Therapy? Quiz”.
A weekly chat with a PsychCentral therapist would cost a mom who screens positive for PPD roughly $120 per hour, billed at $2 per minute, or $6,240 a year.
The Abilify advertised on PsychCentral, to treat depression as an add-on with antidepressants, was recently priced at $1,230 on DrugStore.com. Add Cymbalta, one of the antidepressants Grohol promotes with another ad, complete with a voucher for a free sample, at a cost of $390 a month, and a woman is looking at a yearly tab of $19,440, bringing the combined drug and therapy total to $25,680.
And God forbid, if mom and dad both screen positive, the cost of treatment could double to $51,360. As a psychologist, Grohol can not write prescriptions, and neither can his online “therapists,” so this amount would not include the fees for office calls to the prescribing physician.
However, before heading over to Gohol’s one-stop, perhaps postpartum couples may want to see if a new car could pull them out of their funk. On the “Car Connection” website, the starting price for a brand new 2009 Kia Rio is only $11,495, and the 2009 Honda Fit is listed at $14,750, bringing the total cost to only $26,248 for two vehicles.
If the new cars don’t do the trick, the parents would still have $25,112 left over to spend on a half year of treatment at PsychCentral, based on the estimated costs for drugs and therapy found on the website.
Also, a quick search of the internet turned up a website called, “Live Psychic Readings,” supposedly featured on “Good Morning America,” that only charges $1 per minute, with a toll free number. And better yet, another site with the heading, “The Honest Psychics,” only charges a buck for 10 minutes.
Grohol also allowed Katherine to post a link on PsychCentral to a petition for people to sign in support of the Mothers Act, a process funded by the “Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance,” a Big Pharma front group that serves as a funnel of drug company money to finance disease mongering campaigns.
The DBSA’s 2007 annual report shows the group received between $150,000 and $499,000 from AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Wyeth, and between $10,000 and $149,000 from Abbott, Cyberonics, Forest, Glaxo, Organon, and Otsuka American Pharmaceuticals. DBSA also received $37,510 from Eli Lilly in 2007, and another $20,000 from Lilly in 2008.
Lilly’s first quarter grant report for 2009 shows a $5,000 donation to the DBSA. The Rhode Island chapter of the group also received $7,500 from Lilly in the first quarter of 2009.
In the title of a paper in the May, 2009, Journal of Affective Disorders, Stephen Matthey, of the University of Sydney Infant, Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service Research Unit in Australia, asks, “Are we overpathologising motherhood?”
The paper was critical of self-report screening measures such as the Edinburgh Depression Scale for overestimating the rate of psychiatric disorders in motherhood. “The properties of the Edinburgh Scale show that around 50% of women scoring high are not in fact depressed,” the paper’s abstract reports.
The paper was further critical of the high percentage of women being screened as ‘at-risk’. Classifying women to be ‘at-risk’ based upon “the presence of a single risk factor is questionable given that the majority of women with risks do not become depressed, and also the rate of women reported to have at least one risk (up to 88%) is so high as to negate the usefulness of this concept,” the abstract warns.
Matthey also questioned the use of the diagnostic criteria for depression in the DSM IV, such as weight loss, sleep problems and fatigue, which could easily be attributed to new parenthood rather than depression.
“Current estimates of the prevalence of perinatal distress, and of women with risks, are an overestimation of the true rates,” the abstract concludes.
“The clinical practice of using the presence of a single risk factor, or a single high score on a self-report mood scale, to form part of the assessment to determine whether or not to actively intervene may also overpathologise the situation,” Matthey warns.
“A more thorough understanding of these issues will improve our assessment procedures so that resources can be appropriately targeted to those women, and their families, who really need specialist mental health intervention,” he points out.
With the above paper in mind, consider the posting on Postpartum Progress by Katherine on July 29, 2009, of: “A Nurse/Mother’s Letter to Time Magazine: Alison Palmer.”
In the letter to the editors, Palmer described herself as, “a maternal-newborn clinical nurse specialist, coordinator of a Postpartum Emotional Support Program, and most importantly as a mother.”
It sounds like she works at the Maternity Center at Elliot Hospital in Manchester, New Hampshire, which “does about 2200 births per year,” according to the letter.
“Postpartum depression or other mood and anxiety disorders occur at least 20% of the time, and can occur anytime in the first year after birth,” Palmer claims in the letter.
“Our organization recently implemented an Inpatient Postpartum Depression Risk Assessment,” Palmer told the editors.
“An 11-item questionnaire is distributed to EVERY new mother who delivers, and screens them into a risk category for developing PPD,” she wrote.
“This screening tool identifies risk factors and does not indicate that a woman will definitely experience PPD,” she said.
“Just like someone who smokes, is obese, has high blood pressure and a family history of cardiac disease is at higher risk for a heart attack, these PPD risk factors simply indicate that one might be at a higher risk for the illness,” Palmer explained to Time editors.
“In our first month of screening, we had patients screen out as 46% low risk, 21% moderate risk, 30.5% high risk and 2.5% immediate risk,” she reported.
“More than HALF of all of the new mothers who delivered had some increased risk for PPD,” Palmer added.
“The “at-risk” moms view a PPD video, receive more in-depth PPD education, get follow up phone calls at home, are offered Visiting Nurse visits and are invited to attend weekly New Moms Groups and the Postpartum Depression Support Group,” she told Time.
After reading the above information, on July 29, 2009, Amy posted a blog to Nurse Palmer on Postpartum Progress and asked: “Did the program refer the low risk women for further evaluation? Is low-risk considered at risk?”
“In the risk assessment survey, the mother needs to answer “NO” to ALL 11 items in order to be scored as “LOW” risk,” Palmer wrote back to Amy, demonstrating that no mother will ever escape this dragnet.
“I always tell people there is no such thing as “NO RISK”, since simply giving birth puts a woman at risk due to the hormone and biological changes that occur,” she explained.
“Even answering “yes” to one item on the survey puts mom in a “moderate risk” category,” Palmer claimed.
“Women who score low risk still have routine PPD teaching done by the RNs,” she told Amy. “They just don’t have the follow up by VNA and phone calls.”
“Interesting,” Amy wrote back to Palmer. “I myself was told I needed drugs because of my high risk for PPD.”
“I was later told by a pediatrician, lactation consultant and OBGYN that perhaps I should consider staying on drugs permanently even during pregnancy or not having any more kids because of my high risk of having PPD again after the birth of any subsequent children,” she explained further.
“I had no problems at all after the birth of Toby,” Amy said. “I am thankful I did not listen to them.”
Nurse Palmer compares the use of “risk factors” to diagnose women with mental disorders to the use of risk factors for other diseases. In June 2005, the Seattle Times published a series of reports including one titled, “Suddenly Sick,” by Susan Kelleher and Duff Wilson, with the byline: “The hidden big business behind your doctor’s diagnosis,” and discussed the successful trick of using “risk factors” in past drug marketing campaigns.
“You are suddenly sick,” the authors wrote, “simply because the definitions of disease have changed.” And behind those changes, the Times found, were “the companies that make all those newly prescribed pills.”
The authors noted that “Dartmouth Medical School researchers estimate that during the 1990s, tens of millions more Americans were classified as having hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes or obesity simply because the definitions of those diseases were changed.”
“The medical profession’s term for these people is ‘the worried well,'” the authors said. “They are otherwise healthy people who have risk factors, such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, but may never suffer a heart attack or stroke.”
“Every time the boundary of a disease is expanded — the hypertension threshold is lowered by 10 blood-pressure points, the guideline for obesity is lowered by 5 pounds,” they pointed out, “the market for drugs expands by millions of consumers and billions of dollars.” The results, they wrote:
“Skyrocketing sales of prescription drugs. Soaring health-care costs. Escalating patient anxiety. Worst of all, millions of people taking drugs that may carry a greater risk than the underlying condition. The treatment, in fact, may make them sick or even kill them.”
“Pharmaceutical firms have commandeered the process by which diseases are defined,” the Times found. “Many decision makers at the World Health Organization, the U.S. National Institutes of Health and some of America’s most prestigious medical societies take money from the drug companies and then promote the industry’s agenda,” the authors reported.
“Treatment guidelines established by international and national health organizations instruct physicians on diagnosis and treatment of disease and are meant to be scientifically pristine,” they said. But the Times found that for a broad spectrum of diseases, “the experts writing the treatment guidelines had drug-company ties ranging from research contracts to consultancies to stock ownership.”
Attack on Vogue Magazine Journalist
On April 29, 2009, Hale used her website to “refute” some of the top experts in the field, quoted by Alexis Jetter, in an article in the May issue of Vogue Magazine titled, “Pregnant Pause,” which warned that: “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.”
“What alarms doctors is the sheer number of pregnant women who use SSRI antidepressants – perhaps as many as 250,000 in the U.S. each year – when we still know so little about how the drugs effect babies,” Jetter reported.
The number of pregnant women on SSRIs has apparently skyrocked over the past three years. Back in 2006, the American Medical Association gave an estimate “that over 1% of pregnant women in the U.S., or more than 40,000, are taking antidepressants,” the Wall Street Journal reported in July 2006.
“SSRI usage dramatically increases the chances that a baby may be miscarried, born prematurely or too small, suffer erratic heartbeats, and have trouble breathing,” Jetter points out in Vogue.
In response to the article, Hale wrote a commentary titled, “Thoughts on exploring a “Pregnancy Pause,” and sent it to Vogue. “I methodically refuted and balanced the article’s bias against medicating with anti-depressants during pregnancy,” she wrote, when publishing the letter in full on her website.
On May 6, 2009, Katherine posted a link to Hale’s site with the headline, “Hale Responds to Vogue Piece on Antidepressants in Pregnancy,” and Kleiman provided a link on her treatment center website, telling readers: “Please take the time to read her very thoughtful and well-researched post.”
Upon reading the commentary, anyone with knowledge on this topic would have a hard time believing that the human face, Hale, did the “methodical refuting” all on her own.
In the Vogue article, Jetter explains that serotonin, “the neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood, also sends crucial developmental signals to the fetal heart, lung, and brain.”
“Some scientists think that SSRIs, which prevent the body’s natural absorption of serotonin, could be tampering with essential cell growth,” she reports.
“Never before in human history have we artificially changed the architecture of brain development,” said Feng Zhou, PhD, of the Indiana University School of Medicine, in the Vogue article.
“We always predicted that developmental exposure to these drugs would have some deleterious effects,” Jean Lauder, PhD, of the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, told Jetter. “But no one was listening back then.”
Jetter also cites warnings by Dr Adam Urato, the guy who alerted JAMA to the undisclosed financial conflicts of interest among the authors of the Cohen Relapse in Depression study, and assistant professor of Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine, stating:
“Women and their providers have been told that even mild depression or anxiety will hurt their baby …. And these antidepressants are portrayed almost like prenatal vitamins that will level out their mood and lead to a healthier baby.”
“But antidepressants have not been shown to decrease rates of miscarriage or birth defects or low birth weight. On the contrary, they’ve been show to increase those problems.”
“On top of that,” argues Urato, “only one voice is reaching the ears of most women’s health practitioners: that of a small coterie of influential doctors who he says underplay the dangers of antidepressants,” Jetter reported.
“Many of these physicians have accepted lucrative speaking fees and consulting contracts from drug companies,” she wrote. “And yet – sometimes without divulging those connections – these same doctors are shaping treatment guidelines.”
True to form, in her commentary, Hale referred to work by the industry shill Wisner. In fact, the Mothers Act disease mongers repeatedly tout papers by Wisner without disclosing her financial ties to the drug makers.
For instance, Hale’s headline for a March 28, 2009, blog read: “The Confusion of Ante-Partum Depression: To Medicate or Not?”
“Ante-Partum Depression” being another newly coined buzz term for depression during pregnancy, a disorder not listed in the DSM.
In her blog, Hale reported that: “A recent study by Dr. Katherine Wisner … found that continuous exposure to either SSRI or Depression during pregnancy results in pre-term delivery rates in excess of twenty percent while mothers with no exposure to either depression or SSRI over the course of their pregnancy experienced rates of pre-term delivery at six percent or lower.”
The actual study titled, “Major depression and antidepressant treatment: impact on pregnancy and neonatal outcomes,” was published in the March 2009, AJP. And the researchers in fact found women exposed to continuous treatment with SSRIs had an increased risk for preterm birth of 23%, and women with continuous depression but no SSRIs had a lower increased risk of 21%, compared to a 6% rate for women with no depression and no SSRIs.
However, women reading spinmaster Hale’s summary of the results were told “the pre-term delivery rates were the same with depression exclusive of SSRI treatment.”
“So what’s a pregnant depressed mama to do?”, Hale wrote on her website.
“I read,” she stated. “Voraciously.”
“The two biggest sources of help for me,” she said, “were Karen Kleiman’s What Am I Thinking? Having a Baby After Postpartum Depression and Kornstein/Clayton’s Women’s Mental Health.”
“Karen’s book allowed me to realize my emotions were right on target for a woman facing pregnancy (expected or not) after surviving a PMD episode while Women’s Mental Health laid out the risk factors in a no-nonsense manner,” she wrote.
“I was convinced to stay on medication,” Hales said, “after I read my risk for relapse went up by 50% if I discontinued my medication during pregnancy.”
“With my risk factor already 50% higher than women having never experienced a PMD, there was no way I was giving myself a 100% risk of traveling down that road,” she wrote.
Kleiman’s book sells for about $19 on Amazon and Women’s Mental Health is listed for $85.
In a May 12, 2009, Postpartum Progress blog, Katherine made sure to promote the continued use of SSRIs by pregnant women in posting a sentence from an editorial in the AJP titled, “Assessing Risk and Benefit: To Treat or Not to Treat Major Depression During Pregnancy With Antidepressant Medication,” by Dr Barbara Parry, which states:
“Thus, all things considered, on the basis of the findings from the methodologically sound and rigorous study of Wisner et al. and the evidence available from long-term studies, this author thinks that the risk of untreated major depression outweighs the risk of effects of SSRI treatment on neonatal outcomes.”
As part of the campaign against Vogue, Hale published in full a letter sent to Vogue from Arienne Einarson, without disclosing Einarson’s drug industry ties or controversies surrounding Einarson’s Canadian program.
In a blog on Hale’s site, Einarson said of the Vogue article: “I am the author of the largest study on paxil(no drug company funding) published in a premier psychiatry journal and they certainly did not contact me. I WONDER WHY NOT?”
First off, maybe Einarson wasn’t contacted because she is a nurse and not a doctor. She is the Assistant Director of Clinical Services of the Motherisk program at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, also known as SickKids, and works under Motherisk Director, Dr Gideon Koren.
And maybe it was because her often co-author, Dr Koren, was involved in one the biggest academic research scandals in history a few years back when he sent vicious letters to discredit fellow researchers and denied doing so until DNA evidence from postage stamps proved he was lying, years later. In September 2003, the Canadian Association of University Teachers reported in the CAUT Bulletin:
“The Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons has formally reprimanded University of Toronto professor of medicine Dr. Gideon Koren. He had written anonymous harassing letters about Dr. Nancy Olivieri and three colleagues during Olivieri’s dispute with the Hospital for Sick Children, the University of Toronto and Apotex Inc. He then had lied repeatedly to conceal his responsibility. The college also cited him for additional misconduct, in research.”
“In its decision, the discipline committee said it was “deeply troubled by this case” and “seriously considered administering a more severe penalty” than that proposed to it, as it wished “to express unequivocally its condemnation of Dr. Koren’s misconduct.”
“It defies belief that an individual of Dr. Koren’s professed character and integrity could author such vicious diatribes against his colleagues as he did in the ‘poison pen letters’,” the committee wrote in its decision.
The committee described Koren’s actions as “childish, vindictive and dishonest” and noted that “only when confronted with irrefutable scientific evidence of his guilt did he admit he was the perpetrator” of the letter campaign. The Teachers Association further explained in the Bulletin:
“The college’s finding of research misconduct was in relation to a study on a drug to treat a blood disorder in children that Koren and Olivieri had once collaborated on. Olivieri identified risks that the drug was ineffective and caused liver damage, and voiced her concerns despite legal warnings from its maker, Apotex. Koren differed and, contrary to accepted norms, published an article on the drug using data from other researchers, including Olivieri, without their knowledge or consent.”
“The penalty had been jointly proposed to the college discipline committee through prior agreement between counsel for Koren and counsel for the college,” the Bulletin reported.
“The discipline committee did not have before it the facts that Koren had violated additional university and international norms of conduct in this publication,” it pointed out.
“Koren had received hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding from Apotex after the company had terminated the drug trials in its efforts to prevent Olivieri from disclosing risks to patients, as well as the hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding he had received during the trials,” the newsletter reported, citing an journal article by the authors of “The Olivieri Report.”
It should be noted that Apotex went on to market a generic version of Paxil, or paroxetine. In September 2005, the FDA issued a warning about possible birth defects associated with Paxil when the drug is taken during the first trimester of pregnancy.
The warning was based on one study that found about a 2% risk of heart defects in babies born to mothers who took Paxil in early pregnancy, compared with a 1% risk in the general population, and a second study that found the risk of heart defects was 1.5% in babies whose mothers took Paxil in the first three months, compared with 1 percent in babies whose mothers took other antidepressants in the first trimester.
In October 2005, Einarson put out a paper titled, “The safety of psychotropic drug use during pregnancy: a review.”
“This article reviews the various classes of psychotropic drugs that are commonly used to treat psychiatric disorders–antidepressants, benzodiazepines, antipsychotics, antiepileptics, lithium and monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors–in terms of their safety during pregnancy,” the abstract on PubMed states.
“A substantial number of women of childbearing age are prescribed psychotropic drugs, and because nearly 50% of pregnancies are unplanned, many women are still taking them upon becoming pregnant,” Einarson points out.
“Evidence-based information from epidemiologic studies indicates that most psychotropic drugs are relatively safe for use during pregnancy,” the abstract states. A November 2005 abstract for another Einarson paper on PubMed states:
“A number of pregnant women suffer from psychiatric disorders that require treatment with psychotropic drugs. A literature review suggests that these medications are relatively safe to use during pregnancy. Abrupt discontinuation of these drugs can have both physiological and psychological ramifications, which include unpleasant physical symptoms and re-emergence of the psychiatric condition. Therefore, it is not good practice to discontinue these medications abruptly upon diagnosis of pregnancy.”
Here’s Einarson and Koren back in November 2005, still available on the Motherisk website, answering questions under the tab for “Pregnancy & Breastfeeding” with a heading: “Counseling pregnant women who are treated with paroxetine”.
One webpage says: “Motherisk questions are prepared by the Motherisk Team at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ont.” In a November 2005 Special Supplement, the question was phrased as:
“I have always reassured my patients that taking an SSRI in pregnancy would not increase their risk for having a child with a major malformation. However, I recently read the warning from Health Canada regarding the release of a study from GSK, stating that infants exposed to paroxetine may be at a higher risk of congenital malformations, specifically cardiovascular defects. Some of my pregnant patients who are taking paroxetine (Paxil) heard about this information in the media and called me to ask if they should stop taking it. What should I tell them?”
Their answer was:
“The new warning is based on small non peer review, unpublished studies. It ignored 2 published studies that failed to show such association, and no such association has been shown for SSRI’s as a class. The data suggested that even if there is a risk, it is small. The warning does not disclose the details of the cardiovascular malformations in these studies. Many cases of ventricular septal defect, the most common cardiac malformation, resolve spontaneously. Concerned mothers to be should know that beyond the first trimester a drug cannot cause cardiac malformation. Failure to treat depression during pregnancy can have significant negative ramifications for both mother and child, and it is the strongest predictor of postpartum depression.”
In December 2005, the FDA instructed GlaxoSmithKline to reclassify Paxil from a Category C to D for pregnant women. A Category D warning means studies in pregnant women have demonstrated a risk to the fetus.
An advisory to “Neuropsychiatric and other healthcare professionals,” specifically stated that the “FDA has determined that exposure to paroxetine in the first trimester of pregnancy may increase the risk for congenital malformations, particularly cardiac malformations,” and advised:
“Physicians who are caring for women receiving paroxetine should alert them to the potential risk to the fetus if they plan to become pregnant or are currently in their first trimester of pregnancy. Discontinuing paroxetine therapy should be considered for these patients. Women who are pregnant, or planning a pregnancy, and currently taking paroxetine should consult with their physician about whether to continue taking it.”
A little over a year ago, a study in the April 2008 American Journal of Psychiatry, reported an “Evaluation of the Risk of Congenital Cardiovascular Defects Associated With Use of Paroxetine During Pregnancy,” with authors that included Einarson and Koren.
The conclusion for the abstract stated: “Paroxetine does not appear to be associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular defects following use in early pregnancy, as the incidence in more than 3,000 infants was well within the population incidence of approximately 1%.”
The Winter 2009 issue of the Canadian Journal of Clinical Pharmacology published a paper by Einarson titled, “Risks/safety of psychotropic medication use during pregnancy–Motherisk Update 2008.” The abstract contains the standard talking points, and states in part:
“Psychiatric disorders are relatively common among women of childbearing age, who may be prescribed psychotropic drugs. There remains a high level of anxiety regarding their safety among patients and healthcare providers alike, most likely because of the conflicting studies that have been published in the literature and warnings from government organizations.”
“The body of evidence in the literature to date suggests that psychotropic drugs as a group are relatively safe to take during pregnancy and women and their health care providers should not be unduly concerned if a woman requires treatment,” the abstract concludes.
Koren and Einarson routinely fail to list financial ties to drug makers in their papers. The following disclosure was published in the November 2008 American Journal of Psychiatry as a correction to an article for which no disclosures were made:
“Dr. Koren and Ms. Einarson have received research support from Janssen-Ortho and Wyeth. Dr. Koren has received research support from Apotex, Duchesnay, Novartis, and Pfizer. Ms. Einarson has received unrestricted research grants from GlaxoSmithKline for studying ondansetron in pregnancy and from Organon for studying mirtazapine in pregnancy. Dr. Einarson has received research support from Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, Janssen-Ortho, Lundbeck, Novo Nordisk, and Organon.”
When reposting Einarson’s letter on her website, Hale states, “Adrienne currently serves as Coordinator for the International Reproductive Psychiatry group at Motherisk in Toronto.”
At the start of the letter to Vogue, Einarson writes: “I am writing to you on behalf of an international group of individuals who are involved with reproductive mental health, as either clinicians, researchers and in some cases both.”
“We would like to voice our concerns regarding your recent piece entitled “Pregnant Pause,” which we felt, did not achieve a balanced perspective on this issue, which was surprising to us, coming as it did from such a highly esteemed publication as Vogue,” she states.
Einarson makes claims on behalf of this group without identifying a single member by name. If these “International” groups exist, there is remarkably little information about it on the internet. A google search a couple months ago for “International Reproductive Psychiatry Group” brought up 2 hits – both to the comments above. A search for “North American Reproductive Psychiatry Group” had 2 hits – both to references made by Einarson at various times.
In her letter to Vogue, Einarson wrote: “Another disturbing theme that came up several times in the article, is that physicians hand out antidepressants like candy, and physicians in our group were most offended by this statement as they are very careful about prescribing antidepressants and would not give them to someone who not does not require treatment.”
Here she is likely referring to Dr Urato’s warnings and statements such as: “What alarms doctors is the sheer number of pregnant women who use SSRI antidepressants – perhaps as many as 250,000 in the U.S. each year – when we still know so little about how the drugs effect babies,” as Jetter reported.
In conclusion in her letter to Vogue, Einarson refers to her “International” group again, and states: “Finally, and I am sure this was not your intention, several of our group members who are psychiatrists have reported that their pregnant patients have decided to stop taking their antidepressant since they read your article,” she claims.
She then gives what she calls “one example of the damage you may have caused by this highly biased and often inaccurate article.”
“After reading this article, a woman called her psychiatrist and informed her that she was not going to take her Prozac anymore,” she told Vogue, in what can only be considered good news.
Disease Mongers Wage War on TV Series
In a February 2, 2009, headline on Postpartum Progress Katherine gleefully announced: “ABC’s “Private Practice” to Feature PPD Storyline”.
ABC Television Network’s “Private Practice” will feature a storyline related to postpartum depression on its February 12 episode, the blog reported.
“After the show, viewers will be directed to ABC’s website to see a public service announcement on postpartum depression that will link to Postpartum Support International,” Katherine wrote. “We don’t know any details about the episode because it’s top secret. I’ll definitely be tuning in.”
On February 11, 2009, Postpartum Progress told readers to: “Get Your DVRs and Your TV Dinners Ready,” and Katherine wrote: “Don’t forget this Thursday night (tomorrow) is the episode of Private Practice on ABC featuring a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder, and a link after the show to a new PSA on ABC.com.”
However, on February 13, 2009, the tone suddenly soured with Katherine posting the headline: “ABC Television Should Be ASHAMED of “Private Practice” Postpartum Psychosis Treatment”.
“I’m horrified that I encouraged you to watch what I thought would be a responsible storyline about postpartum depression on the ABC network television show “Private Practice,” she wrote.
“Never again,” she said, “will I tell the readers of Postpartum Progress to watch something that I haven’t already seen myself and can’t fully endorse.”
“Sorry I waited to write about this until now,” she continued, “but I was so spitting mad late last night I couldn’t calm down enough to type,”
“Last night’s episode was promoted, both to the public and to the members of Postpartum Support International, as one about postpartum depression,” she said, “but — surprise, surprise — it immediately devolved into a show about postpartum psychosis and a mom attempting to kill her child by holding her down under the water in the bathtub.”
“Every time the media, whether entertainment or news, chooses to cover perinatal mood and anxiety disorders,” Katherine claimed, “the portrayal is always of some out-of-control woman committing or attempting to commit infanticide.”
Katherine obviously could not accept that the show was not meant to be a pitch for the new cottage industry of “Reproductive Psychiatry,” or an extension of the disease mongering campaign for all the other “illnesses” in the “perinatal mood and anxiety disorder spectrum.” The plot rightfully remained focused on the rare occurrence of “postpartum psychosis.”
“We have to stand up at some point and let the media know the way they treat perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, and mental illness in general, is unacceptable,” Katherine wrote, to incite readers.
“Just as I stopped going to Tom Cruise movies,” she said, “I will not watch “Private Practice” ever again.”
“In fact,” she said, “I may stop watching my favorite ABC show “Grey’s Anatomy” and switch over to NBC which has equally compelling shows in the 9pm EST time slot (“The Office” and “30 Rock”).”
“I ask you to please join me to PULL THE PLUG ON PRIVATE PRACTICE,” Katherine told readers.
“I also encourage you to write about this on your own blogs and use the tag ‘Pull the Plug on Private Practice'”, she advised all the other disease mongers.
Katherine then went on to list “some other bloggers’ takes on this,” and included excerpts from a blog by Susan Stone, posted on the website for her treatment center, with a headline that said: “ABC’s Private (Mal)Practice Fails to Present the Facts In a Botched Opportunity to Raise PPD Awareness.”
Katherine also provided a link to a blog by Hale with a title, “ABC’s Private Practice Misses the Mark.”
On February 13, 2009, tag-team member, Hale, chimed in with the headline: “More irresponsibility from ABC regarding PMD’s,” and told visitors to her website: “A quick visit to Katherine Stone’s blog this morning got my juices revving again. And Susan Dowd Stone was not happy about the display either.”
As if anybody gives a rat’s butt about whether the two Stone broads are happy or not.
“Katherine is calling for a boycott of the show and I have to wholeheartedly agree,” Hale wrote.
“Pull the Plug on Private Practice and their sham of attempting to represent the medical world,” she said. “How dare they drop the ball on such a sensitive topic!”
“No voice will have a louder effect than a sudden drop in viewership because that means decrease in advertising and then well, if a show isn’t profitable anymore…….,” she wrote.
“Spread the word – and stop watching,” Hale told readers.
On February 15, 2009, Katherine announced: “Warrior Moms Pull the Plug on ABC’s ‘Private Practice'”.
“I’m so happy to hear from those of you who are choosing to stop watching “Private Practice” (and a lot of you quitting “Grey’s” too) or to speak out against ABC’s irresponsible portrayal of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders like postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety and postpartum psychosis,” she wrote in the blog.
“And my original post is also over on PsychCentral (thank you Dr. John Grohol for allowing me a little real estate on your amazing site),” she reported.
In fact, Grohol allowed Katherine to repost her entire rant in full on the PsychCentral.
In a reply on Grohol’s site, an “anonymous” commentator, calling himself a shrink, wrote: “As a psychiatrist, although I did not see this show, I have seen how TV and movies portray mental health issues, and the consensus is the majority overtypifies symptoms and issues, as mainstream illness is not “exciting” enough to warrant a show to titilate/wow audiences.”
“My advice,” the shrink said, “although wary to give it, is ask NAMI to get involved if they see it as a viable issue. They have the manpower to mobilize people.”
NAMI of course being another Big Pharma front group that serves as funnel of drug company money to fund disease mongering campaigns, called the “National Alliance on Mental Illness.” NAMI is listed as a main supporter of the Mothers Act on Susan Stone’s Perinatal Pro site, and was recently forced to admit that 56% of its funding since 2005, came from the pharmaceutical industry.
The February 15, 2009, headline on Postpartum Progress read: “In Their Own Words: Why They’ll Never Watch ABC’s “Private Practice” Again.”
“I wanted to share with all of you some of the commentary I received, so that you can see the kind of impact media, whether news or entertainment, has on vulnerable women,” Katherine wrote.
On February 17, 2009, she posted a headline with instructions on: “How to Contact the Media About Responsible Mental Health Representation,” and provided a link “to contact ABC to share your feelings directly on the “Private Practice” episode,” complete with a clickable email address for Anne Sweeney, President, ABC Entertainment.
It’s worth mentioning that despite all the efforts to intimidate ABC by the disease monger above, a rerun of the same episode of Private Practice just aired a few weeks ago.
Pringle Ordered to Cease and Desist
Evelyn Pringle’s first in a series of articles on the Mothers Act was published on April 7, 2009, with the title, “Mother’s Act Fuels Multibillion Dollar Industry,” by Scoop Independent News, and several other internet dailies.
The same day, Pringle received an email from Susan Stone with orders to: “Immediately correct current and past falsehoods in all posts, articles, blogs, communications and other media content regarding me and my practice.”
“In addition you are warned to cease and desist from future false and libelous statements with regard to my practice, income, funding and resources,” Susan informed Pringle, and went on to misstate the comments and topics discussed in the article.
“As far as your comments about the legislation which are ridiculously inaccurate,” she said, “I wonder how you can intentionally mislead thousands of suffering women who need treatment.”
“It appears your anti pharma agenda has clouded your reason, your compassion and your ability to be truthful in journalism,” Susan told Pringle.
“A blind copy of this email is being sent to my attorney,” Susan wrote, clearly as an intimidation tactic meant to shut Pringle up due to a fear of being sued.
“You can blind copy anything you want to your attorney or to anybody else for that matter,” Pringle replied in email. “It’s a free country.”
“I plan to blind copy my reply to several people,” she told Susan.
“Nothing I reported is factually incorrect or false but I have no intention of wasting my time debating with you,” Pringle said. “The article will remain as is and I will try to remember to mention your intimidation tactic in my next Mother’s Act article.”
“As far your phony line about me misleading “thousands of suffering women,” save it for your future victims,” Pringle told Susan.
“Maybe you could have one of the Big Pharma front groups listed on your site as backing the Mother’s Act put out a press release warning members of Congress not to read my articles,” she advised Susan.
“From this day forward, I want you to cease and desist contacting me,” Pringle told her.
On April 7, 2009, on the website for her treatment center, Kleiman also swung into action with the headline: “Mother’s Act “Scoop”ed Again.”
“Those of you who know me, know that I try hard to resist the temptation to repond to any misinformed rant with respect to postpartum depression,” she stated.
“It’s really not worth my time to defend the work that we do,” she added. “But still …” Kleiman wrote, and went on to warn readers:
“To any of you who inadvertently found yourself reading a piece called “Mother’s Act Fuels Multibillion Dollar Industry” by Evelyn Pringle, please be advised.
Here’s the article’s opening tease line: “Motherhood has fallen prey to the psycho-pharmaceutical complex. If new legislation as the Mother’s Act becomes law, the drugging of infants through pregnant and nursing mothers will no doubt increase.”
“We should be flattered to have received attention from an excellent writer who spends a great deal of her time seeking media-soaked and provocative avenues for her unique perspective and right to free speech,” Kleiman wrote. “But when it gets personal, it reveals the flaw in this particular effort of hers.”
“I suspect that if Ms Pringle were to sit down with Katherine Stone, Susan Dowd-Stone or myself, she might actually understand this issue a bit better,” she continued. “If she could step down from her big Pharma platform for long enough to see the other side of this picture that is inundated with women in real life who are pleading for their lives, she might consider another angle to her protest.”
“Let’s not be distracted,” Kleiman said. “And let’s certainly hope that Ms Pringle never experiences the hardship of loving someone who suffers with a severe mental illness.”
Just like clockwork, the human face Hale showed up on Kleiman’s website and added the comment: “Couldn’t have said it better myself, Karen.”
On April 8, 200, Amy picked up on the postings and ran the headline: “Karen Kleiman Attacks Evelyn Pringle,” on her “Bitter Pill” website.
“Evelyn Pringle has angered the beast,” Amy said. “After months of ignoring victims who speak out against The MOTHERS Act and pretending that the pro-informed consent movement did not exist, it seems that the perinatal “experts” are gearing up for an online twist-a-thon.”
Pringle responded to Kleiman with the following comments in a blog on Kleiman’s website: “I am going to do everything in my power to derail this profiteering scheme, for one reason and one reason only, to protect the helpless, voiceless victims – the fetus and nursing infants.”
“I have been investigating and reporting on off-label drug marketing schemes set up with screening scams since 2004, and this is the most disgusting one I’ve covered because it is aimed straight at the nursery and most helpless victims in the world,” she wrote.
Queen of the Spin Masters
On April 6, 2009, Grohol allowed Katherine to publish an entire article, also posted on Postpartum Progress, on PsychCentral, with the truthful title for a change of, “MOTHERS Act To Drug America’s Moms for Fake Postpartum Depression.”
However, the article was actually an attack on the people and groups that have worked to expose the Mothers Act for what it is, and quite possibly Katherine’s most brazen disease mongering article to date.
“The emotional health of approximately 1 million American families each year depends on this,” she claimed in regard to the need to get the Mothers Act passed.
“Because honestly,” she wrote, “if we can’t get this one bill passed, how are we going to tackle the much bigger task of helping every single woman with a perinatal mood or anxiety disorder who needs help in this country?”
“There are some people who, for whatever reason,” Katherine said, “have decided to convince others that the singular purpose of the Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act is to line the pockets of the pharmaceutical companies and drug our nation’s mothers.”
Katherine then posed the question: “Have these people not seen the research?”, and proceeded on with a rant of totally false and misleading statements about the medical problems occurring in women and infants resulting from the treatment or non-treatment of pregnant women for depression.
Do they not know, she said, that women with untreated depression during pregnancy are (1) twice as likely to have pre-eclampsia, (2) twice as likely to have a C-section, (3) twice as likely to have a preterm delivery, and (4) twice as likely to have their baby go to NICU?
A good place to start the debunking process is with the false claims about preeclampsia, because it leads to preterm birth and babies ending up in intensive care, if they live at all.
Preeclamsia is a disorder of pregnancy typically occurring after the 20th week of gestation. “It is characterized by sudden and dangerous spikes in blood pressure, protein in the urine, abnormal swelling of feet, face, and hands, upper abdominal pain, and nausea,” according to the Preeclampsia Foundation.
“The only known treatment is to deliver the baby,” the Foundation states. “Preeclampsia is the most common known cause of premature birth and responsible for half a million neonatal deaths worldwide.”
“Women taking antidepressants experienced significantly higher frequency of birth complications, including preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and premature rupture of membranes, than women with depression who had not taken antidepressants during pregnancy,” according to a report on a study presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, by Psychiatric News on December 7, 2007.
A more recent study in the March, 2009, AJP, titled, “Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor Use and Risk of Gestational Hypertension,” assessed the effects of treating pregnant women with SSRIs on the risks of gestational hypertension and preeclampsia, compared to women who did not receive SSRIs during pregnancy or received SSRIs only in the first trimester of pregnancy.
The study found gestational hypertension “was present in 9.0% of the 5,532 women who were not treated with SSRIs and 19.1% of the 199 women who were treated with SSRIs.”
“Among women who received treatment, gestational hypertension was present in 13.1% of the 107 women who received treatment only during the first trimester and in 26.1% of the 92 women who continued treatment beyond the first trimester,” the research showed.
“The occurrence of preeclampsia was 2.4% among women who were not treated with SSRIs, 3.7% among women who were exposed to SSRIs only during the first trimester, and 15.2% among women who continued SSRI treatment beyond the first trimester,” according to the study.
Then there is the study by the drug company hack, Wisner, discussed above that found women exposed to continuous treatment with SSRIs had an increased risk for preterm birth of 23%, and women with continuous depression but no SSRIs, had a lower increased risk of 21%.
The warning section on the labeling for antidepressants contains the following statements on babies being born to women who use the drugs during pregnancy, listing features “consistent with either a direct toxic effect of SSRIs and SNRIs or, possibly, a drug discontinuation syndrome:”
Neonates exposed “late in the third trimester have developed complications requiring prolonged hospitalization, respiratory support, and tube feeding. … Reported clinical findings have included respiratory distress, cyanosis, apnea, seizures, temperature instability, feeding difficulty, vomiting, hypoglycemia, hypotonia, hypertonia, hyperreflexia, tremor, jitteriness, irritability, and constant crying.”
In some states, mothers who take street drugs are arrested for subjecting newborns to drug withdrawal, yet the antidepressant withdrawal syndrome is no less traumatic. The only wall separating culpability between the two drug ingesting mothers is that addicts are usually aware of the consequences of their use, while the naive mothers on legal drugs are seldom warned about the withdrawal effects they may cause.
An August, 2006 study in the Archives of General Psychiatry compared babies born to depressed mothers treated with SSRIs to those born to depressed mothers who were not treated, and found a significantly greater incidence of respiratory distress, 13.9% vs 7.8%, as well as longer hospital stays for infants exposed to SSRIs. The study also found birth weight and gestational age were significantly less in SSRI exposed infants.
“These findings are contrary to an expectation that treating depressed mothers with SSRIs during pregnancy would be associated with lessening of the adverse neonatal consequences associated with maternal depression,” lead researcher, Dr Tim Oberlander, told Reuters on August 25, 2006.
On August 13, 2009, Psychiatry Update carried the headline: “SSRI babies need monitoring,” for a report by Louise Wallace on a study in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry that found infants exposed to antidepressants in late pregnancy were at risk of discontinuation symptoms and more likely to suffer from jaundice and be admitted to special care nurseries.
“In more than 50 pregnant women who took part in the prospective study, newborns exposed to SSRI antidepressants had more symptoms including reflux, poor sleeping and feeding, crying, sneezing and tremor than those who were not exposed,” Wallace wrote.
The authors of the study, “suggested the length of hospital stay for mothers who are exposed to antidepressant medication in late pregnancy should be reviewed and that the length of stay should be measured in days rather than hours after giving birth,” Wallace reported.
“Symptoms such as tremor, irritability and jitteriness may be easily confused with convulsions, which may result in misdiagnosis and significant associated morbidity for the infant,” the authors said. “This suggests the need to clarify diagnostic criteria for the neonatal to improve identification and management.”
On July 19, 2006, the FDA issued a warning that: “A recently published case-control study has shown that infants born to mothers who took selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s) after the 20th week of pregnancy were 6 times more likely to have persistent pulmonary hypertension (PPHN) than infants born to mothers who did not take antidepressants during pregnancy.”
Infants with PPHN require intensive care nurseries often with mechanical assistance to breath, and 10% to 20% do not survive even if they receive treatment. Those that do, may experience developmental delays, brain abnormalities and hearing loss.
PPHN normally occur in 1-2 live births per 1,000. Based on the estimate of 250,000 pregnant women taking antidepressants in the US, and a rate increase of 6-fold, the rate of babies born with PPHN would increase from between 250 and 500 per year, to between 1,500 and 3,000.
A number of jury trials are scheduled to begin in the US this fall involving families of infants born with heart birth defects as a result of women not being warned about the danger of taking Paxil while pregnant, with jury selection in the first case, at last check, scheduled to begin in Philadelphia on September 10, 2009.
More than 600 birth defect cases are currently pending against Paxil maker, GlaxoSmithKline, alone in the combined Multi-District Litigation in Pennsylvania.
Recruitment of Life-long customers
In the article on Grohol’s website, in reference to people fighting against the Mothers Act, Katherine asks: “Do they not know that women with untreated postpartum depression can go on to have chronic depression for the rest of their lives?”
No, but we do know that Katherine was diagnosed with what must be chronic and possibly life-long “postpartum OCD” in 2001, because she is still on antidepressants eight years later in 2009, and was still calling the drug company shill, Jeffrey Newport, her shrink in 2007.
But then much to the drug makers’ delight, many people are forced to take antidepressants for years. The author of the new book, “Drug-Induced Dementia: A Perfect Crime,” Dr Grace Jackson, explains that many patients find they can not stop. Not because they develop a craving, she says, “but because the withdrawal effects are severe and often misinterpreted by doctors as proof of a relapse into depression.”
In the book, “The Antidepressant Solution,” Dr Joseph Glenmullen calls this situation the “antidepressant catch 22,” because withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, depression, insomnia, and crying spells can mimic a patient’s original condition. “When this happens, patients are needlessly put back on the drugs, often for years and despite severe side effects,” he reports.
In July 2009, UK expert, Dr David Healy, author of the new book, “Mania: A Short History of Bipolar Disorder,” issued a “SSRI Withdrawal Guide,” available on Bob Fiddaman’s popular website, “Seroxat Sufferers Stand Up and Be Counted.”
“One of the biggest problems of SSRI dependence involves women who are on treatment and unable to stop who wish to become pregnant,” Dr Healy warns in the guide. “Getting off an SSRI at present seems more difficult for women than men, even with the incentive of wishing to become pregnant.”
Dr Jackson warns that almost all psychiatric drugs either sensitize the brain to other addictions, such as benzos cross-sensitizing to alcohol or stimulants cross-sensitizing to cocaine, or become addictive substances on their own.
For most patients, she says, the use of psychiatric medications fulfills four of the seven DSM criteria for dependence including: (1) tolerance; (2) withdrawal; (3) larger amounts consumed, or longer use than intended; and (4) continued use despite the fact that the treatments cause significant suffering and disability, such as impaired judgment when driving, insomnia, sexual dysfunction, or impulsivity.
This knowledge provides additional reasons to fight against the Mothers Act disease mongering campaign in order to prevent the forced drugging of more helpless and voiceless infants through pregnant and nursing mothers.