The Bitter Pill

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The Mothers Act Disease Mongering Campaign – Part III

The Mothers Act Disease Mongering Campaign – Part III

Friday, July 31, 2009 by: Evelyn Pringle, health freedom writer

(NaturalNews) This is part three of a four-part investigative article series by award-winning journalist Evelyn Pringle. Read part one (http://www.naturalnews.com/026634_d…) or part two here (http://www.naturalnews.com/026707_h…).

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 … , a2-adrenergic agonists, and ß-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.

Filed under: "prevention", 'ADHD', antidepressants, antipsychotics, Congress, Melanie Stokes, mothers act, pharmacology, PPD, Pregnancy, screening, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Motherhood is Not a Mental Illness: Bremner on TIME

(Note: I encourage everyone to send a letter of thanks to TIME and Catherine Elton at letters@time.com.)

In this post from yesterday on Before You Take That Pill, which Philip Dawdy picked up over at Furious Seasons, Emory researcher and psychiatrist Dr. Doug Bremner writes about The MOTHERS Act in response to TIME magazine’s article, “The Melancholy of Motherhood: Should All Moms Be Screened for Postpartum Depression?”

“[T]o screen all moms as if giving birth is a risk factor for depression is ridiculous. And whenever you start screening the general population, you get into problems with over-identification of people and an increase in the number of people that go on antidepressants.”

He continues:

In the case of Melanie Blocker-Stokes, 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.” This legislation is typical of much that comes out of an individual tragedy, that results in an intrusion into the personal lives of individuals and the further relinqueshment of individual freedoms to the government.

The article quotes psychiatrist Katherine Wisner MD as stating ”how can you be opposed to something that will help mothers?” But an examination of the fine print from one of her articles here shows that she is on speakers bureaus for Pfizer and Lilly, makers of Zoloft and Prozac, respectively.

Catherine Elton did a fantastic job of showing both sides in a fair light. She tells the truth about the treatment given to Melanie Stokes, about my experience with Zoloft, and about screening. But this does not sit well with people who make a living marketing disorders to the public. Later on down the page in the comments section of Dr. Bremner’s blog, I get accused of paranoia and of being mentally ill by a woman named Gina Pera, whom I’d never heard of, and she also says that people like me shouldn’t get to have a say in what happens to our country:

We cannot make public-policy decisions based on the stories of people who have been diagnosed with mental health disorders and treated for them.

Sorry, but it’s true. Many mental health disorders limit objectivity, 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. But we can’t make policy on this kind of hearsay and paranoia.

Okay, I’ve had enough of the anti-medication, anti-psychiatry, don’t-control-me crowd. It’s bad for my brain, and it seems to be swelling in ranks on the Internet. Good luck making your way in the dismal future that you are creating for others who could use — and would appreciate — legitimate psychiatric help, well administered.

OK, would she say the same for those advocating for The MOTHERS Act who are currently both diagnosed with a mental illness and taking drugs – that their experiences don’t get to count because they were diagnosed mentally ill? Or does mental illness magically disappear and the slate is wiped clean because you start taking drugs? If so, then I was never “mentally ill” because I was fine before Zoloft and apparently being on drugs makes you “sane” or eligible to participate in public debate. I expected to see comments from the folks from PSI but I guess I didn’t think about the fact that simply by opposing The MOTHERS Act in TIME Magazine, I would get to encounter disease mongerers for all of the DSM (“adult ADHD” anyone?) who go as far as attacking informed consent in order to defend all drugging schemes that they hear about.

Apparently I am “creating a dismal future” for our country just by telling my story? Sorry, U.S.A. That’s just my paranoia and selfishness you’re feeling from afar, when you think about your future and your mental health – it has nothing to do with your life situations.  Is there an anti-future-creation drug yet available? Maybe they should inject me with it. Thanks, Gina for a good laugh.

TIME Magazine’s piece on The MOTHERS Act is sure to draw a lot of people with varying levels of pro-pharma bias, and many anti-pharma survivors into this debate. But most importantly, 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. I can only hope that when people read the print version they will decide to get online and google me or The MOTHERS Act so that they can get some more warnings before accepting a diagnosis and meds. Information is the least people deserve.

Katherine Stone and her pro-drug friends from Postpartum Support International were not pleased with the TIME article. They’ve worked themseleves into a tizzy issuing an open letter attempting to discredit Catherine Elton’s piece. And to think I was upset because the print version had an error about me. If I were Catherine Elton I would be more than a little annoyed by the pathetic whining coming to my inbox complaining that I didn’t write the article the way the drug industry front groups had hoped.

They’ve really got their panties in a wad. Apparently telling my story in TIME is a “disservice” to the country, and they “skip facts” when stating that there is dissent about this issue.

Nevermind the fact that between 2004 and 2008 FDA MedWatch collected 1,031 reports of miscarriages, abortions, and other prenatal and neonatal deaths caused by psychotropic drugs. Nevermind the 4,154 cases of suicidal depression reported to MedWatch for Psychotropic drugs from 2004-2006, along with 2,911 Attempted suicides, 4,260 completed suicides, 2,452 other deaths not from suicide, 434 cases of Homicidal Ideation, 195 Homicides, and 1,098 cases of Mania.

An anti-information campaign letter posted on a blog of a woman who worked for Cohn & Wolfe (a PR firm employed by pharma) with 43 signatures, including that of George Parnham (attorney for Andrea Yates), who advocates with PSI for lesser sentences for infanticide, should somehow top the 53 groups, 12,588 petition signatures, and 2,311 members of the Facebook Coalition against the bill? Why? Because they proclaimed themselves the final authority and followed up their names with long titles.

I’m betting PSI would love it if nobody ever wrote about The MOTHERS Act without running it through them first. Do they speak for all psychologists? All psychiatrists? As evidenced by the post on Dr. Bremner’s blog, Dr. Grace Jackson’s work, Dr. David Healy’s work, and the activism of Dr. Michael Zampardi, Dr. John Breeding, Dr. Peter Breggin, and the ICSPP, as well as countless other psychologists, midwives, doctors, psychiatrists, and mothers selflessly working to educate the public about the risks of psychotropic drugs or to prevent this dagnerous Act from becoming Law, I think not.

Without referring to me by name, Katherine and her co-signators say that they feel bad about my story – which they believe is a rare adverse event.

“We are terribly sorry about the experience of the one mother quoted in your article, which happens on rare occasions, but we believe that the MOTHERS Act would actually go a long way to prevent what happened to her.”

Not that I want half-hearted “sympathy” from people who can’t bring themselves to speak my name, but thank you for the apology. I can only wonder if they also feel guilty for all the “rare” moms out there who are suffering because of medication, since their letter gushes about how great screening and medication are.

“As Time reported in June, the National Academies fully endorses screening for parental depression and believes it is crucial, while also emphasizing that screening is not helpful unless there is effective follow up and treatment tied to it.”

[emphasis mine]

In case you didn’t notice, Katherine stone now emphasizes and refers to screening for parental depression rather than perinatal depression, and makes a point that treatment must follow screening.

I wonder when they’ll apologize about all the dead and injured babies they have helped to drug? Perhaps not unless and until the media pays attention to their stories as well.

As I wrote in my letter to the editor of TIME, which I will share later in a separate post, anyone who wants more information should email me and I can refer you to the FDA MedWatch Adverse Event Reports to help you get all the facts.


In the comments below the “Time Magazine Skips Facts” nonsense on Postpartum Progress, this is what AbleChild had to say:

Ablechild said…
Thank God for Time Magazine, I understand the “Expert” that was quoted in the article has ties to the drug companies. Considering the Subjective Nature and the lack of an accurate test, I find it interesting that you all would get so upset about people who would actually oppose the Mother’s Act.

Well you can count our organization into the camp that opposes such a far reaching grasp of parental rights! Great Going Time Magazine! It is about time the underdogs reeived a fair hearing! Informed Consent consists of all the information, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Why not promote all the deaths associated with your proposed mental health treatments. Andrea Yates was treated and look at what she did to her kids! Stop Promoting Misleading and dangerous treatments. With great respect for human rights and free will of man!

Don’t forget to send a letter of thanks to TIME. Honest journalism is most definitely not dead.

Stay tuned.

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