invincible summers

in the middle of winter I at last discovered that there was in me an invincible summer. (albert camus)

while i’ve been away May 10, 2009

So much news and so little time to comment but here are a few stories worth reading:

Most NAMI Money is From Psychiatric Drug Industry! BIG surprise (not) but thank you Sen. Grassley for continuing to fight for awareness and human rights while most members of Congress sit back and don’t say a word.

The FDA has approved yet another drug for schizophrenia, Fanapt. Keep your eyes on this one. Soon to be the next Seroquel, Zyprexa, Abilify, etc. When will this madness stop? The FDA continues to disappoint.

Two recent trials show akathisia occurred in 25% of Abilify patients compared to 4% of placebo patients. I’m glad I got off this one quick-even though I still have doctors pushing it. and I am growing increasingly tired by the constant Abilify ads on TV. I’m about to storm Bristol-Myers Squibb’s headquarters. Here’s their advertisement for the drug:

Merck Makes Phony Peer-Review Journal. Well, this one leaves me speechless.

The Scientist has reported that, yes, it’s true, Merck cooked up a phony, but real sounding, peer reviewed journal and published favorably looking data for its products in them. Merck paid Elsevier to publish such a tome, which neither appears in MEDLINE or has a website, according to The Scientist.

What’s wrong with this is so obvious it doesn’t have to be argued for. What’s sad is that I’m sure many a primary care physician was given literature from Merck that said, “As published in Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine, Fosamax outperforms all other medications….” Said doctor, or even the average researcher wouldn’t know that the journal is bogus. In fact, knowing that the journal is published by Elsevier gives it credibility!

Psych Rights sent letters to several members of Congress:

Massive Medicaid Fraud Exposed: PsychRights Calls on Members of Congress for Assistance
In letters to Senators Charles Grassley and Herb Kohl, and Representatives Henry
Waxman, Bart Stupak, John Dingell & Barney Frank, the Law Project for Psychiatric
Rights (PsychRights®) has exposed massive Medicaid Fraud. While working on
PsychRights v. Alaska, its lawsuit to prohibit the State of Alaska from the largely
ineffective and always harmful psychiatric drugging of children and youth, PsychRights
“discovered that it is illegal for the vast bulk of these prescriptions to be reimbursed by
Medicaid.”

Extrapolating from Alaska Medicaid Claims, PsychRights calculates over $2 Billion in
fraudulent claims are being paid nationally every year for drug treatments Congress has
explicitly prohibited, and it is probably well over $4.5 Billion, based on the total amount
paid by Medicaid. Stating the carnage caused by the practice will be “recognized as the
largest iatrogenic (doctor caused) public health disaster in history,” PsychRights
analogized the situation, “to our current economic debacle caused by unrestrained Wall
Street greed,” but noted, it is much worse, ” because children’s and youth’s future, health,
and even lives, have been sacrificed and continue to be sacrificed on the altar of corporate
profits.”

Also, “because most current child psychiatrists no longer know how to help children and
youth without resort to the drugs” PsychRights suggests “the savings be used to fund
approaches that have been proven to be safe and effective.”

The Law Project for Psychiatric Rights is a public interest law firm devoted to the
defense of people facing the horrors of forced psychiatric drugging and electroshock.
PsychRights is further dedicated to exposing the truth about psychiatric interventions and
the courts being misled into ordering people subjected to these brain and body damaging
drugs against their will. Extensive information about these dangers, and about the tragic
damage caused by electroshock, is available on the PsychRights web site:
http://psychrights.org/.

Advertisements
 

Medicating grief isn’t the answer April 28, 2009

Filed under: change,hope,news — clementine @ 12:46 pm
Tags: , , , ,

We need more doctors like this. From an op-ed at the Boston Globe:

ON A RECENT episode of the HBO series “In Treatment,” a CEO of a major company describes with complete absence of emotion the death of his 16-year-old brother when he was 6. When Paul, his therapist, suggests that his panic attacks may be related, he leaves the office, saying he will ask his doctor to prescribe medication now that he has a diagnosis. Paul gently suggests that they continue the important work they have begun. I am eager to see how this plays out. I am quite certain, however, that in the real world, the CEO would find many doctors to prescribe medication, enabling him to eliminate the symptom without the hard work of grieving.

This episode reminded me of a case in my pediatric practice (with the details changed to protect privacy). A 5-year-old girl was referred by her kindergarten teacher for evaluation of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, with a strong recommendation that medication be considered. Her behavior had been disruptive since preschool, but was now affecting her ability to learn. There was concern that she might not be able to move on to first grade. Before I even saw the patient, armed with standardized forms and psychological testing, I was quite sure that she would meet diagnostic criteria for ADHD and that medication would be a reasonable consideration.

I met with her parents, who described classic symptoms of ADHD, including prolonged battles at home around such simple tasks as getting dressed for school. About halfway through the visit, I began to ask, as I always do, about past history. “How was your pregnancy with her?” There was a pause, during which the parents exchanged looks. “Actually, I’m not her biological mother.”

Now it was my turn to pause, as I was quite shocked to receive this important piece of information so late in the evaluation process. With some reluctance, they went on to tell me that the girl’s mother was seriously mentally ill, had been intermittently involved in her life, and had disappeared completely two years earlier. But, they assured me, she never talked about her mother and it wasn’t an important issue.

This story has a happy ending. I agreed that medication could be helpful, but, building on the trust they had developed with me as their pediatrician, I suggested that the loss of her mother was actually very important and needed to be addressed. They accepted my referral to a therapist. I am fortunate to have an excellent colleague across the street who accepts their insurance. He wisely explained to them that children do grieve, and now the whole family is engaged in working with him around this painful and difficult task. This child is now thriving in first grade.

For this one positive outcome, there are hundreds that do not end this way. Children who have experienced terrible loss do not have the opportunity this girl had. They are aggressive and disruptive, and their symptoms are medicated away. They continue to struggle, often failing in school. Some of the reasons this path is chosen are lack of time, limited access to mental health services, and resistance to doing this hard work.

I recently received a letter from the state with the alarming statistic that 37 percent (nearly $190 million) of the MassHealth pharmacy budget is spent on behavioral health medication. The letter asks for input regarding possible ways to improve patient care while reducing costs.

I proposed that we as a society recognize that grief and loss cannot be medicated away. As one friend who recently lost her husband so eloquently put it, “Grief is a powerful release that validates your loss, relieves stress, and helps you heal.” Certainly medication may be an adjunct, particularly when people are so incapacitated by their symptoms that they are unable to function. But if we as a culture validate the experience of grief, if we offer the time and space and resources to support people through the difficult process, I am quite certain that in the long run we will not only spend less on medication, but will help people to heal and return to being productive members of society. It is with children that this investment will have the greatest return.

Dr. Claudia Meininger Gold, a pediatrician, practices in Great Barrington.

 

a doctor voluntarily took an antipsychotic drug April 16, 2009

Filed under: antipsychotics,news — clementine @ 5:29 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Thanks to Beyond Meds for posting this very interesting story. And I say interesting for a number of reasons. One, whenever a doctor would deny the side effects I was experiencing from Seroquel or Abilify, I wanted to say, “Have you tried it?” Two, after my swain learned of my horrible experiences with Seroquel he took 1/4 of the dose I used to take (100mg) to see what would happen. He took 25 mg one time and was knocked out for nearly 24 hours. After he woke he could barely form a sentence, he was extremely sluggish and it took him a few days for him to recover from that one small dosage. He simply could not imagine what it must have been like for me, taking a stronger dosage for a much longer time. And thirdly, anytime I’ve ever seen a pharma rep selling (marketing, pimping or whatever you choose to call it) these horrific drugs, I have always wanted to ask, “Would you take this? Would you have your child take this?” I did ask a former friend and Wyeth rep the last question and his answer was no. Of course it was. So, here we have the story of a doctor who voluntarily took an antipsychotic drug:

In 1993 Richard Bentall went a bit mad.

He voluntarily took an antipsychotic drug and at first thought he’d get through unscathed.

“For the first hour I didn’t feel too bad. I thought maybe this is okay. I can get away with this. I felt a bit light-headed.”

Then somebody asked him to fill in a form. “I looked at this test and I couldn’t have filled it in to save my life. It would have been easier to climb Mt Everest.”

That was the least of his troubles. Bentall, an expert on psychosis from the University of Bangor in Wales who is in New Zealand under the University of Auckland Hood Fellowship programme, developed akathisia – unpleasant sensations of inner restlessness and an inability to sit still.

“It was accompanied by a feeling that I couldn’t do anything, which is really distressing. I felt profoundly depressed. They tried to persuade me to do these cognitive tests on the computer and I just started crying.”

Bentall had volunteered to be in a study run by Irish psychiatrist Dr David Healy. Volunteers were given either 5mg of the antipsychotic droperidol, 1mg of lorazepam, a type of tranquillizer, or a placebo.

“The experiment completely failed,” says Bentall. “Because first, it’s absolutely mind-bogglingly obvious to anybody after an hour whether or not they are taking an antipsychotic or a placebo – the side effects are so marked. There is no such thing as a placebo antipsychotic in that sense.”

But it was the fact that most of the healthy volunteers who took the antipsychotic became so unwell, let alone do the cognitive tests, that meant the study couldn’t continue. One psychiatrist became suicidal and had to be put under observation.

In his controversial book Let Them Eat Prozac Healy wrote about what the volunteers experienced. “It was not like anything that had happened to them before… Highly personal memories of previous unhappy times – broken relationships or loneliness – seemed to be flooding back. And if they previously held themselves responsible for these unhappy times, they seemed to hold themselves responsible for feeling the way they did now as well.”

The antipsychotic experiment, which gave him a hangover for a week, typifies Bentall’s approach to mental illness – rigorous scientific research coupled with a clinical psychologist’s perspective.

He has a doctorate in experimental psychology. “Most of my arguments are research-based,” says Bentall. “I’m just interested in what the evidence says about the nature of mental illness and how best to treat it. I’m a scientist at heart.”

What worries Bentall is how many mental health services seem to ignore what the research says and when an antipsychotic medicine doesn’t work, simply up the dose.

Once again Bentall refers to the science – that about a third of recipients don’t get any benefit whatsoever from the drugs. And research that shows if patients don’t respond at a relatively low dose, they’re not going to respond to a high dose. And are very likely not going to respond to any other anti-psychotic.

The optimum dose of antipsychotics is about 350mg per day (measured as chlorpromazine equivalents). Yet a recent study in the north of England found the median dose of antipsychotic drugs was about 600mg and about a quarter of those reviewed were on a gram or more a day.

“The average dose was about twice the optimum. How does that happen? It doesn’t make any sense.” Bentall suggests the reason such “unethical doses” occur is because mental health services have come to rely on these drugs as if they are the only treatment available. “When a patient doesn’t respond, they just up the dose in some magical belief that hopefully something will happen.”

But while promoting alternatives like cognitive behavioral therapy – the Government-sanctioned treatment of choice for depression and anxiety disorders in England – Bentall also points to research that shows all psychotherapies work, and that no type is more effective than any other. It’s a finding that surprised many, including Bentall.

Closer analysis highlights a common theme. “The quality of the relationship between therapist and patient explained most of the result.”

It seems blindingly obvious that having a good quality, empathetic therapist is likely to get good results, so why doesn’t it happen? “Establishing good relationships with patients shouldn’t be that difficult, but most psychiatric services seem to find it very difficult indeed,” says Bentall.

He says many services operate from a coercive model: “We know best. We’ve got the treatment. Better take these no matter what the side effects. Do what we say and if you don’t, we’ll put you on a community treatment order and you’ll be legally obliged to do what we say.”

click here for the rest of this incredible story.

 

Senator Grassley is not backing down April 6, 2009

Filed under: corruption,news — clementine @ 3:29 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Thanks to Gianna and Duane for this amazing news. According to this report at Bloomberg, Senator Chuck Grassley is now investigating NAMI. Excellent! I would write more but I need a nap and I need to let this sink in:

April 6 (Bloomberg) — U.S. Senator Charles Grassley expanded his investigation into drug company influence on the practice of medicine by asking a nonprofit mental-health- advocacy group about its funding.

In a letter sent today to the National Alliance for Mental Illness, based in Arlington, Virginia, Grassley asked the nonprofit group to disclose any financial backing from drug companies or from foundations created by the industry.

The Iowa Republican, in a series of hearings and investigations, has focused on financial ties between the drug industry, doctors and academic institutions. His efforts have led New York-based Pfizer Inc. to begin disclosing consulting payments to U.S. doctors, and Harvard Medical School in Boston to reexamine its conflict-of-interest policies. Now Grassley is expanding his inquiries to nonprofit groups.

“I have come to understand that money from the pharmaceutical industry shapes the practices of nonprofit organizations which purport to be independent in their viewpoints and actions,” Grassley wrote in his letter.

Officials at the National Alliance for Mental Illness didn’t return calls for comment.

of course they didn’t

The group identifies itself as the largest grassroots organization in the U.S. for people with mental illness and their families. The group came under scrutiny in 1999, when the magazine Mother Jones reported that 18 drug companies gave the group $11.7 million from 1996 to mid-1999. The article reported that at one point an executive of Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly & Co. worked out of the nonprofit group’s headquarters.

A 2007 annual report showed that the group’s corporate partners at that time included Madison, New Jersey-based Wyeth; London-based GlaxoSmithKline Plc; Eli Lilly, which makes Prozac; and the Washington-based trade group Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America.

Financial Report

A separate financial report shows the National Alliance for Mental Illness brought in $10.5 million in contributions in the year that ended June 30, 2007. The donors aren’t broken out.

Vera Sharav, president of the Alliance for Human Research Protection, a New York-based nonprofit that promotes ethical research, said the National Alliance for Mental Illness may have drawn Grassley’s attention because it lobbies Congress for mental-health funding.

“Academics and physicians give an appearance of authority,” Sharav said by telephone. “Industry gives them the money. Grassley has been going after each group systematically, and the dots are being connected.”

click the Bloomberg link above to continue reading….

 

Pfizer CEO’s compensation slips 5% to a mere 13.1 million! March 15, 2009

Filed under: big pharma,corruption,news — clementine @ 12:22 pm
Tags: , ,

From The WSJ Health Blog:

Pfizer cut its 2008 bonuses for execs and is freezing executives’ salaries this year, the company said this morning in its proxy statement. Here’s the key paragraph on the action by the board’s compensation committee:

The Committee, based on the recommendation of Mr. Kindler, determined that given macroeconomic conditions, the performance of Pfizer’s stock price and other factors, it would (a) freeze salaries for executive officers (other than in the case of promotions); (b) reduce 2008 bonuses for the executive officer group as compared to bonuses paid for 2007 to the comparable group of executive officers … and (c) reduce the 2009 long-term incentive target grant amounts by 10%.

Still, everything is relative. Kindler’s direct compensation for last year was valued at $13.1 million, down from about $13.8 million the year before, Dow Jones Newswires notes. His 2008 package included a salary of $1.58 million, a cash incentive bonus of $3 million, long-term stock-based awards valued at $8.3 million and perks worth about $228,000.

To see how the other top execs fared, check out the Direct Compensation Table in Pfizer’s proxy.

I’m still trying to figure out why any of these jokers, er, CEO’s are making more than 100,000/a year. It’s ridiculous and sad.

 

little blue pills December 27, 2008

Filed under: government,medications,news — clementine @ 11:44 pm
Tags: , ,

from the washington post

The Afghan chieftain looked older than his 60-odd years, and his bearded face bore the creases of a man burdened with duties as tribal patriarch and husband to four younger women. His visitor, a CIA officer, saw an opportunity, and reached into his bag for a small gift.

Four blue pills. Viagra.

“Take one of these. You’ll love it,” the officer said. Compliments of Uncle Sam.

The enticement worked. The officer, who described the encounter, returned four days later to an enthusiastic reception. The grinning chief offered up a bonanza of information about Taliban movements and supply routes — followed by a request for more pills.

For U.S. intelligence officials, this is how some crucial battles in Afghanistan are fought and won. While the CIA has a long history of buying information with cash, the growing Taliban insurgency has prompted the use of novel incentives and creative bargaining to gain support in some of the country’s roughest neighborhoods, according to officials directly involved in such operations.

In their efforts to win over notoriously fickle warlords and chieftains, the officials say, the agency’s operatives have used a variety of personal services. These include pocketknives and tools, medicine or surgeries for ailing family members, toys and school equipment, tooth extractions, travel visas, and, occasionally, pharmaceutical enhancements for aging patriarchs with slumping libidos, the officials said.
ad_icon

“Whatever it takes to make friends and influence people — whether it’s building a school or handing out Viagra,” said one longtime agency operative and veteran of several Afghanistan tours. Like other field officers interviewed for this article, he spoke on the condition of anonymity when describing tactics and operations that are largely classified.

click here to continue reading.

is this our answer for everything these days? PILLS? seems so.

 

‘Deep Throat’ Mark Felt Dies at 95 December 19, 2008

Filed under: news,politics,r.i.p. — clementine @ 2:55 am
Tags: ,

‘Deep Throat’ Mark Felt Dies at 95
very sad news but what a great man.

slide_738_13994_large

From the Washington Post:

W. Mark Felt Sr., the associate director of the FBI during the Watergate scandal who, better known as “Deep Throat,” became the most famous anonymous source in American history, died yesterday. He was 95.

Felt died at 12:45 p.m. at a hospice near his home in Santa Rosa, Calif., where he had been living since August.

Felt “was fine this morning” and was “joking with his caregiver,” according to his daughter, Joan Felt. She said in a phone interview that her father ate a big breakfast before remarking that he was tired and going to sleep.

“He slipped away,” she said.