‘Nearly 1 in 5 children in the U.S. suffers from a mental disorder, and this number has been rising for more than a decade.
According to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, up to 20 percent of American children are suffering from mental disorders such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression and autism.
The CDC’s first study of mental disorders among children aged 3 to 17 also found that the cost of medical bills for treatment of such disorders is up to $247 billion each year.
[...] The CDC data was collected between 1994 and 2011, and it shows that the number of children being diagnosed with mental disorders has been steadily growing. The study did not conclude exactly why the numbers are increasing.’
by Bruce Levine, Ph.D.
Mad In America
‘In my career as a psychologist, I have talked with hundreds of people previously diagnosed by other professionals with oppositional defiant disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, anxiety disorder and other psychiatric illnesses, and I am struck by (1) how many of those diagnosed are essentially anti-authoritarians, and (2) how those professionals who have diagnosed them are not.
Anti-authoritarians question whether an authority is a legitimate one before taking that authority seriously. Evaluating the legitimacy of authorities includes assessing whether or not authorities actually know what they are talking about, are honest, and care about those people who are respecting their authority. And when anti-authoritarians assess an authority to be illegitimate, they challenge and resist that authority—sometimes aggressively and sometimes passive-aggressively, sometimes wisely and sometimes not.
Some activists lament how few anti-authoritarians there appear to be in the United States. One reason could be that many natural anti-authoritarians are now psychopathologized and medicated before they achieve political consciousness of society’s most oppressive authorities.
Why Mental Health Professionals Diagnose Anti-Authoritarians with Mental Illness
Gaining acceptance into graduate school or medical school and achieving a PhD or MD and becoming a psychologist or psychiatrist means jumping through many hoops, all of which require much behavioral and attentional compliance to authorities, even to those authorities that one lacks respect for. The selection and socialization of mental health professionals tends to breed out many anti-authoritarians. Having steered the higher-education terrain for a decade of my life, I know that degrees and credentials are primarily badges of compliance. Those with extended schooling have lived for many years in a world where one routinely conforms to the demands of authorities. Thus for many MDs and PhDs, people different from them who reject this attentional and behavioral compliance appear to be from another world—a diagnosable one.
I have found that most psychologists, psychiatrists, and other mental health professionals are not only extraordinarily compliant with authorities but also unaware of the magnitude of their obedience. And it also has become clear to me that the anti-authoritarianism of their patients creates enormous anxiety for these professionals, and their anxiety fuels diagnoses and treatments.
In graduate school, I discovered that all it took to be labeled as having “issues with authority” was to not kiss up to a director of clinical training whose personality was a combination of Donald Trump, Newt Gingrich, and Howard Cosell. When I was told by some faculty that I had “issues with authority,” I had mixed feelings about being so labeled. On the one hand, I found it quite amusing, because among the working-class kids whom I had grown up with, I was considered relatively compliant with authorities. After all, I had done my homework, studied, and received good grades. However, while my new “issues with authority” label made me grin because I was now being seen as a “bad boy,” it also very much concerned me about just what kind of a profession that I had entered. Specifically, if somebody such as myself was being labeled with “issues with authority,” what were they calling the kids I grew up with who paid attention to many things that they cared about but didn’t care enough about school to comply there? Well, the answer soon became clear.’
by Sarah Boseley
‘The international charity Save the Children is embarking on a partnership with a multinational drug company in a controversial move which the two organisations say is designed to save a million children’s lives.
A decade ago, Save the Children was among the development organisations lambasting GlaxoSmithKline, one of the world’s biggest drug companies, for its high price tags on HIV drugs for the developing world. The initiative launched by the two organisations on Thursday in Kenya will see Save the Children with a seat on the R&D board, advising on new products for the poorest countries, while GSK also pays for the training of more healthcare workers who will dispense medicines and give vaccines.’
by Charles Seife and Rob Garver
‘ProPublica [recently] reported that the Food and Drug Administration allowed dozens of medications to stay on the market, even though the research designed to prove their safety and effectiveness was undermined by “egregious” violations at a major pharmaceutical research laboratory in Houston. New information shows that even after the FDA had cited the lab for falsifying data and other misconduct, the agency issued a brand new approval to a drug tested there.
The FDA has refused to reveal the names of any of the approximately 100 drugs affected by the fraud at the Houston lab of the firm Cetero Research, saying that to do so would reveal confidential commercial information. ProPublica was able to identify five of those drugs, and now we’ve found a sixth. This one was approved after the agency had already cited the Houston lab for misconduct.’
Wall Street Journal
‘The U.S. government sued Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. again on April 26th, saying it paid kickbacks for a decade to doctors to steer patients toward its drugs, sometimes disguising fishing trips off the Florida coast and trips to Hooters restaurants as speaking engagements for the doctors.
The lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan came two days after the government brought a similar lawsuit against Novartis, which is based in East Hanover, N.J. The first lawsuit said the company paid kickbacks to pharmacies to switch kidney transplant patients from competitors’ drugs to its own.
In the second lawsuit, the government accused the company of using from 2001 through 2011 multimillion-dollar “incentive programs” that targeted doctors willing to accept illegal kickbacks to urge patients to use the company’s drugs.’
by Lisa Collier Cool
With some new, potentially lifesaving cancer drugs costing up to $138,000 a year, about 120 leading cancer specialists have joined forces in an unusual protest aimed at getting pharmaceutical companies to cut prices.
Charging high prices for drugs cancer patients need to survive is like “profiteering” from a natural disaster by jacking up prices for food and other necessities, leading cancer doctors and researchers from around the world contend in a new paper published in Blood, the journal of the American Society of Hematology.
Of 12 new cancer drugs that received FDA approval last year, 11 of them cost in excess of $100,000 a year—prices that the specialists attack as “astronomical,” “unsustainable,” and maybe even immoral. What’s more, only three of these drugs were found to improve patient survival rates and of these, two only increased it by less than two months, according to the Washington Post.
by Peter Lind
Gardasil, the vaccine for HPV (human papillomavirus), may not be as safe as backers claim.
Judicial Watch announced it has received documents from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) revealing that its National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) has awarded $5,877,710 dollars to 49 victims in claims made against the highly controversial HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccines. To date 200 claims have been filed with VICP, with barely half adjudicated.
“This new information from the government shows that the serious safety concerns about the use of Gardasil have been well-founded. Public health officials should stop pushing Gardasil on children.” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
The CDC recommends the Gardasil vaccine, made by Merck Pharmaceuticals, for all females between 9 and 26 years to protect against HPV. Furthermore, the CDC says Gardasil is licensed, safe, and effective for males ages 9 through 26 years.
FDA secretly retests 100 different drugs after testing company admits its work was all fraudulent ~ Pro Publica
by Rob Garver and Charles Seife
[...] The health threat was potentially serious: About 100 drugs, including sophisticated chemotherapy compounds and addictive prescription painkillers, had been approved for sale in the United States at least in part on the strength of Cetero Houston’s tainted tests. The vast majority, 81, were generic versions of brand-name drugs on which Cetero scientists had run critical tests to determine whether the copies did, in fact, act the same in the body as the originals. For example, one of these generic drugs was ibuprofen, sold as gelatin capsules by one of the nation’s largest grocery-store chains for months before the FDA received assurance they were safe.
The rest were new medications that required so much research to win approval that the FDA says Cetero’s tests were rarely crucial.
Stone said he expected the FDA to move swiftly to compel new testing and to publicly warn patients and doctors.
Instead, the agency decided to handle the matter quietly, evaluating the medicines with virtually no public disclosure of what it had discovered. It pulled none of the drugs from the market, even temporarily, letting consumers take the ibuprofen and other medicines it no longer knew for sure were safe and effective. To this day, some drugs remain on the market despite the FDA having no additional scientific evidence to back up the safety and efficacy of these drugs.
The world’s largest drug companies are encouraging pregnant women to take prescription drugs, get vaccine shots, and even have chemotherapy. Among these are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) or antidepressants, which are causing miscarriages and a variety of birth defects.
Excessive prescription drug use in pregnant women is also linked to the increase of babies born with autism, preterm birth, newborn behavioral syndrome, persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn and longer-term neurobehavioral effects.
Many feel that corporations are strongly pushing a distorted psychiatric view of drugs recommending that essentially everyone, including pregnant women, needs to be medicated in order to be normal. While antidepressants increase all different kinds of risks for pregnant women their dangers have been left largely unexamined. Corporate media downplay these serious risks as drug companies are major advertisers on corporate outlets and stand poised to make substantial profits.
by DOUGLAS MAIN
Drugs taken by humans can have unintended side effects — on fish, in the natural environment. Turns out, fish fed extremely low concentrations of an antianxiety drug eat more quickly, and act bolder and more antisocial than their un-medicated peers, a new study finds.
“We can see profound effects at the low levels that we find in surface water. Exposed fish are more bold,” Jerker Fick, a co-author and researcher at Umea University in Sweden, said at a news conference here at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
The study looked at the effect of oxazepam (also known as Serax), used to treat anxiety and panic in humans, on the widespread European perch fish. Researchers gave the fish a concentration of drugs similar to that found in rivers and streams in Sweden and elsewhere, according to a study published today (Feb. 14) in the journal Science. [Trippy Tales: The History of 8 Hallucinogens]
Here’s how the drugs make their way into fishy habitats in real life: They get excreted by humans, pass through wastewater treatment facilities, which are not designed to break down such compounds, and then flow into rivers, Fick told LiveScience.
by Anthony Gucciardi
A new major poll from the organization Public Policy Polling over what United States citizens believe to be true about their government and beyond has revealed that a whopping 47 million citizens are privy to the fact that the Big Pharma pharmaceutical industry and the current medical health paradigm are actually generating further sickness within the nation. And that’s just within the United States.
The poll, which asked questions about everything from the use of sodium fluoride in the water to the assassination of JFK, has been popping up in the media where reporters are lumping together concerns about Big Pharma with the belief in Bigfoot. The issue with the poll, however, is that there is really some strange wording within the questions that I think altered the actual response of the individuals who were surveyed due to the oftentimes confusing or more ‘sinister’ wording utilized by the Public Policy Polling agency.
For example, the question regarding the medical establishment working together with Big Pharma reads as follows:
“Do you believe that the pharmaceutical industry is in league with the medical industry to “invent” new diseases in order to make money, or not?”
And 47 million people, based on the poll stats, agree that this is the case. But if the wording were to be changed even slightly, I think that we’d see even more widespread acceptance within the public — of which 15% of the entire United States population would agree according to this poll. For example, the wording here could be confusing with the usage of the word invent with quotations, as it could imply that these industries are creating newdiseases that are previously unheard of instead of just generating sickness within the population.
If the polling company had asked “Do you believe that the pharmaceutical industry and the medical establishment are working together to keep the population sick?” I believe a much greater ‘yes’ response would be seen. Also, the profit portion alienates at least a few percentage points as many individuals believe that the motivation is not profit at all.
But this can be seen to a much greater extent with the question regarding the ill effects of fluoride, which reads:
“Do you believe the government adds fluoride to our water supply, not for dental health reasons, but for other, more sinister reasons, or not?”
This time, we see that the question involves the addition of ‘sinister reasons’ to the list. The media then takes it and says 74% of people think water fluoridation is healthy. Instead, the poll should have asked if fluoride is dangerous to the human body or lowers IQ. What would be amazing in such a scenario is that we’d see, still, a large percentage of people say that fluorides does not lower IQ when even Harvard research and 25 plus other studies have confirmed that it does. That is in addition to damaging developing brains.
from August 16, 2011
The FDA has approved a reformulated version of the much-prescribed SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) Prozac, but this one is just for dogs. Reconcile was created to treat canine separation anxiety. It is a once-daily, chewable, dog-treat-flavored drug that is supposed to be used “in conjunction with a behavior modification plan.”
Reconcile’s full product label, which by law includes complete safety information, does not contain the black box warning that is mandatory on the drug for humans. Of course, that black box notice merely warns of increased risk of suicidal thinking and behavior in children, adolescents, and young adults. The label doesn’t make any mention of the documented connection between antidepressants and violence towards others, nor the drug’s propensity for causing mania, or increased feelings of hostility or anxiety in humans. Withdrawal from SSRIs can be similarly dangerous, ranging from nausea to suicidal ideations.
Given the tremendous risk of humans having a psychotic break when they take Prozac, what are the risks associated with animal use? No one knows—certainly not the FDA, which approved it. What if the dogs turn inexplicably violent? What if the breed is naturally aggressive (which would include the very breeds most prone to canine separation disorder)—will the drug heighten the aggression?
A recent high-profile article in the New York Review of Books (links: part 1 and part 2) discusses the symbiotic relationship between the pharmaceutical industry and psychiatrists to push antidepressants. Some of the revelations:
- Many psychiatric drugs were created first, and then psychological abnormalities were postulated to fit the drug (not the other way around as is usually the case).
- The evidence that these drugs actually work is decidedly mixed, especially in the long term. Pharmaceutical companies have to provide the FDA with two clinical trials to prove efficacy of the drugs—and usually these successful trials are widely published. However, they never publish—and never make public—all the trials that were outright failures.
- Many pharmaceutical companies have close links with both the FDA (as we have reported in these pages many times before) as well as the medical industry.
Antidepressants, whether for humans or for pets, is a massive industry. According to the CDC, antidepressants are now among the top three classes of human medications prescribed in the US.
In fact, antidepressants are being increasingly prescribed for people who have never been diagnosed with any actual psychiatric disorder, according to a new study published in the journal Health Affairs. Nearly three-quarters of prescriptions written for antidepressants in 2007 came from non-psychiatrists, up from 60 percent a decade earlier. The percentage of patients prescribed antidepressants without having been formally diagnosed with a mental health condition more than doubled during that period—up from 2.5 to more than 6 percent of visits to non-psychiatrist providers.
Sometimes the antidepressant is just one ingredient in a combination pill; the patient may never even know what he or she is getting. An example of this, which we recently criticized, was the proposed diet pill Contrave—a drug the FDA has at least temporarily rejected. How many people wanting to lose weight would know that they are getting onto a highly addictive antidepressant?
Pushing drugs on animals is driven by the same profit incentive that we see with humans. Americans will spend over $50.8 billion on pet products and services this year. It is the fastest growing retail segment in our economy. As the New York Times noted:
Surveys by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association found that 77 percent of dog owners and 52 percent of cat owners gave their animals some sort of medication in 2006, both up at least 25 percentage points from 2004. Sales of drugs for pets recently surpassed those for farm animals. Eli Lilly created its “companion animal” division at the beginning of 2007 and over the next three years hopes to release several other drugs. Pfizer, whose companion animal revenues have grown 57 percent since 2003 to nearly $1 billion, hopes to develop medications for pain, cancer and behavioral issues.
The FDA has approved other drugs for dogs as well: Slentrol is the country’s first canine anti-obesity medication, and Anipryl treats cognitive dysfunction so that absentminded pets can remember the location of the supper bowl or doggie door.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership has been lauded by U.S. officials as the 21st Century version of the Free Trade Agreement. However, many of the talks remain behind closed door so the details of the agreement are murky at best. But leaked documents are beginning to paint a grim picture when it comes to Intellectual Property rights. Doctors Without Border recently released a report detailing how these talks could endanger millions of people’s lives by extending drug patent rights for pharmaceutical companies. RT Correspondent Meghan Lopez details six ways that company profits could interfere with public health when it comes to the TPP.
by Elizabeth Sukkar and Helena Smith
Greece is facing a serious shortage of medicines amid claims that pharmaceutical multinationals have halted shipments to the country because of the economic crisis and concerns that the drugs will be exported by middlemen because prices are higher in other European countries.
Hundreds of drugs are in short supply and the situation is getting worse, according to the Greek drug regulator. The government has drawn up a list of more than 50 pharmaceutical companies it accuses of halting or planning to halt supplies because of low prices in the country.
More than 200 medicinal products are affected, including treatments for arthritis, hepatitis C and hypertension, cholesterol-lowering agents, antipsychotics, antibiotics, anaesthetics and immunomodulators used to treat bowel disease.
Separately, it was announced on Tuesday that the Swiss Red Cross was slashing its supply of donor blood to Greece because it had not paid its bills on time.
Chemists in Athens describe chaotic scenes with desperate customers going from pharmacy to pharmacy to look for prescription drugs that hospitals could no longer dispense.
The government list includes some of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, such as Pfizer, Roche, Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca. Pfizer, Roche and Sanofi all said a few products had been withheld. GSK and AstraZeneca denied the claims.
“Companies are ceasing these supplies because Greece is not profitable for them and they are worried that their products will be exported by traders to other richer countries through parallel trade as Greece has the lowest medicine prices in Europe,” said Professor Yannis Tountas, the president of the Greek drug regulator, the National Organisation for Medicines.
The regulator has investigated 13 pharmaceutical companies that have reduced supplies and has handed the names of eight to the ministry of health so they can be fined. Tountas did not disclose the names of the companies, saying this was the responsibility of the ministry of health, but added that they were “big multinational companies”.
For many of us choosing natural methods of healing and health, treatments referred to as “alternative” are the first choice when we feel unwell, or as a preventative measure. For mainstream doctors, however, those same treatments are seen as a last resort. But, the good news is that they are prescribing such treatments at a higher rate than ever before.
According to a study from Harvard Medical School, medical providers are referring patients to mind-body therapies (like meditation and yoga) when conventional approaches have failed. When they’ve tried everything else, they are throwing natural medicine a bone, so to speak.
Researchers surveyed 23,000 households and found that 38 percent use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). About 3 percent of these were a result of a referral from a physician. Those who were referred by their doctor rather than self-referred were more frequent consumers of mainstream medicine and tended to be “sicker”.
Interestingly, when compared with another recent study, the information indicates doctors may be more willing to use CAM themselves than to recommend it to their patients.
Three-fourths of healthcare workers were found to utilize CAM compared with only 63 percent of the general population. Why this is, we don’t know.
Drug overdose deaths rose for the 11th straight year, federal data show, and most of them were accidents involving addictive painkillers despite growing attention to risks from these medicines.
“The big picture is that this is a big problem that has gotten much worse quickly,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which gathered and analyzed the data.
In 2010, the CDC reported, there were 38,329 drug overdose deaths nationwide. Medicines, mostly prescription drugs, were involved in nearly 60 percent of overdose deaths that year, overshadowing deaths from illicit narcotics.
The report appears in Tuesday’s Journal of the American Medical Association.
It details which drugs were at play in most of the fatalities. As in previous recent years, opioid drugs — which include OxyContin and Vicodin — were the biggest problem, contributing to 3 out of 4 medication overdose deaths.
Frieden said many doctors and patients don’t realize how addictive these drugs can be, and that they’re too often prescribed for pain that can be managed with less risky drugs.
They’re useful for cancer, “but if you’ve got terrible back pain or terrible migraines,” using these addictive drugs can be dangerous, he said.
Medication-related deaths accounted for 22,134 of the drug overdose deaths in 2010.
Anti-anxiety drugs including Valium were among common causes of medication-related deaths, involved in almost 30 percent of them. Among the medication-related deaths, 17 percent were suicides.
The report’s data came from death certificates, which aren’t always clear on whether a death was a suicide or a tragic attempt at getting high. But it does seem like most serious painkiller overdoses were accidental, said Dr. Rich Zane, chair of emergency medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
May 23 2003
|A division of the pharmaceutical company Bayer sold millions of dollars of blood-clotting medicine for hemophiliacs – medicine that carried a high risk of transmitting AIDS – to Asia and Latin America in the mid-1980s while selling a new, safer product in the West.
The Bayer division, Cutter Biological, introduced its safer medicine in late February 1984, as evidence mounted that the earlier version was infecting hemophiliacs with HIV.
Yet for more than a year, it continued to sell the old medicine overseas, prompting a United States regulator to accuse Cutter of breaking a promise to stop selling the product.
By continuing to sell the old version of the life-saving medicine, documents show, Cutter was trying to avoid being stuck with large stocks of a product that was increasingly unmarketable in the US and Europe.
Yet even after it began selling the new product, the company kept making the old medicine for several months more. A telex from Cutter to a distributor suggests one reason: the company had several fixed-price contracts and believed the old version would be cheaper to produce.
Nearly 20 years later, the precise human toll of these marketing decisions is difficult, if not impossible, to document.
But in Hong Kong and Taiwan alone, more than 100 hemophiliacs contracted HIV after using Cutter’s old medicine, records and interviews show. Many have since died. Cutter also continued to sell the older product after February 1984 in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Japan and Argentina, records show.
“These are the most incriminating internal pharmaceutical industry documents I have ever seen,” said Dr Sidney Wolfe, who as director of the Public Citizen Health Research Group has been investigating industry practices for 30 years.
In a statement, Bayer said that Cutter had “behaved responsibly, ethically and humanely” in selling the old product overseas. Cutter had continued to sell the old medicine, it said, because some customers doubted the new drug’s effectiveness, and because some countries were slow to approve its sale.
“Decisions made nearly two decades ago were based on the best scientific information of the time and were consistent with the regulations in place,” the statement said.
The medicine, called Factor VIII concentrate, essentially provides the missing ingredient without which hemophiliacs’ blood cannot clot. By injecting themselves with it, hemophiliacs can stop bleeding or prevent bleeds from starting; some use it as many as three times a week. It has helped hemophiliacs lead normal lives.
But in the early years of the AIDS epidemic, it became a killer. The medicine used pools of plasma from 10,000 or more donors, and since there was still no screening test for the AIDS virus, it carried a high risk of passing along the disease; even a tiny number of HIV-positive donors could contaminate an entire pool.
In the US, AIDS was passed on to thousands of hemophiliacs, many of whom died, in one of the worst drug-related medical disasters in history. While admitting no wrongdoing, Bayer and three other companies that made the concentrate have paid hemophiliacs about $US600 million ($900 million) to settle more than 15 years of lawsuits.
by Ketaki Gokhale
The London-based drugmaker has agreed to form a 50-50 venture with India’s Biological E Ltd. to develop a product that would combine Glaxo’s injectable polio shot with a vaccine produced by Biological E that protects against five diseases including diphtheria and tetanus, the companies said in an e- mailed statement today.
Boosting vaccine production in India will help Glaxo gain market share as smaller Indian rivals like billionaire Cyrus Poonawalla’s Serum Institute of India Ltd. make inroads by selling low-priced shots for developing countries. Poonawalla said this month he is being urged to offer the injectable polio vaccine at a third to a quarter of its current price.
Glaxo and Paris-based Sanofi (SAN) are the largest suppliers of injectable polio vaccine, which is used in most developed countries to protect children against crippling poliomyelitis.
Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccine-making unit of France’s largest drugmaker, already has an Indian vaccine unit, Hyderabad-based Shantha Biotechnics Pvt.
Shantha’s Shan6 inoculation will be an “affordable answer” to six diseases including polio, said Olivier Charmeil, president and chief executive officer of Sanofi Pasteur, said Jan. 17.
When a new drug gets tested, the results of the trials should be published for the rest of the medical world — except much of the time, negative or inconclusive findings go unreported, leaving doctors and researchers in the dark. In this impassioned talk, Ben Goldacre explains why these unreported instances of negative data are especially misleading and dangerous.
[...] The new tool now makes it possible to ask which brain circuits are involved in complex behaviors, from perception to movement to decision making, the researchers say, noting that the basic design and function of a zebrafish brain is very much like our own.
“In the future, we can interpret an animal’s behavior, including learning and memory, fear, joy, or anger, based on the activity of particular combinations of neurons,” Kawakami said.
By monitoring neuronal activity in the zebrafish brain, Kawakami thinks that researchers may also be able to screen chemicals that affect neuronal activity in the brain. “This has the potential to shorten the long processes for the development of new psychiatric medications,” he said.