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/.

 

Joe Pantoliano on mental illness stigma April 27, 2009

thanks to Van for posting on this-I’ve been out of the loop and missed it although I am familiar with what Joe has been doing lately.

Joe Pantoliano (The Sopranos, Memento, The Matrix, The Goonies) started an organization called No Kidding, Me Too! He has a documentary coming out with the same title. I want to start off my saying, I commend him for this. Stigma is a real problem in America and throughout the world. We must bring an end to it!

This is Joe’s message at his website:
We are ready for the fight and we ask you to please join us in the revolution and help us educate souls all over the world to “Remove the Stigma!”

Mission
No Kidding, Me Too! is an organization whose purpose is to remove the stigma attached to brain dis-ease through education and the breaking down of societal barriers. Our goal is to empower those with brain dis-ease to admit their illness, seek treatment, and become even greater members of society.

The Goal
Make Brain Dis-ease cool and sexy. We want a normal conversation in America to be:

“I have bipolar disorder/schizophrenia/insert dis-ease”

“No Kidding, Me Too!”

Who Has The Stigma:
Those suffering from brain dis-eases including anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, specific phobias, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating, pyromania, kleptomania, compulsive gambling, addictions, paranoia, multiple personality disorder, gender identity disorder, Down’s syndrome, psychosomatic disorder, tic disorders, and others.

How Will NKMT Accomplish This?
h Create strategic partnerships with members of industry, academia, organizations and government to ensure a broad-based spectrum of support and input.
h Organize the creative talents of our industry professionals to generate messages for various media and use our celebrity status to ensure these messages are heard. The messages will be of empowerment and acceptance and can include topics as basic as giving job opportunities to those with a brain dis-ease.
h Coordinate, participate in and generate interest for national and regional educational events consistent with our goal.

He has an impressive list of Advisory Board members, some of whom I greatly admire in the industry Joey and I share: Robert Downey, Jr, Ed Begley, Jr, Jeff Bridges, Edie Falco, Marcia Gay Harden, Ang Lee, Robin Williams and many more.

At his website there are photos of Joey from the screening of the teaser at the Democratic National Convention with people like Tony Goldwyn, Dana Delaney, Bobby Kennedy, Melissa Etheridge and Tom Fontana.

Here’s the teaser to his documentary:

Under the resources section at his website-the very first resource listed is NAMI. ahem. I wonder if Joe has researched Big Pharma’s influence at NAMI? Is he aware that Sen. Grassley is investigating NAMI’s funding? I am a registered Democrat and I’m becoming increasingly frustrated with this party, a party who is ignoring the corruption of Big Pharma and anyone linked to Big Pharma mainly because of their involvement with them. They are looking out for themselves and those that financially support them instead of the PEOPLE. Senator Grassley is all alone and that is sad.

At Joe’s website he links to several articles, letters, humorous videos and some of this favorite quotes, here’s a sampling:

To Fight Stigmas, Start With Treatment

Call for New Home to Address Health Disparities for Mentally Ill

FDA Approves Depressant Drug For The Annoyingly Cheerful

some of Joey’s favorite quotes

The teaser for his documentary opens with the statement:
1 in 4 Americans suffer from mental illness
4 in 5 Americans are affected by it

And then throughout you see more statistics on the screen:

87 million Americans have been diagnosed with some form of mental illness
There are over 350,000 diagnosed cases of PTSD resulting from the Iraq war
18 of our American heroes are committing suicide every day

And statements like these:
There is a fine line between madness & creativity
Mental illness is the only DIS-EASE which you can be diagnosed with, and get yelled at for having

Joe went public with his illness after he was hired to do a film. (FYI: one of the first things required for actors and directors before they start filming is to see a doctor and production schedules a physical for insurance purposes) He had done this over 70 times but in this case he told the doctor the two medications he was currently taking, one for depression and one for heart disease. His lawyers were then informed that the production company/studio could not insure Joe because he was taking an antidepressant. They were told Joe could sign a waiver basically saying if he had a ‘breakdown’ he would be financially responsible for the loss of work or a shutdown. Joe’s real problem and awakening was simple: they were willing to cover his heart but not his brain. That is stigma. We all know it and it’s something I’ve been fighting and living with for countless years. It’s heartbreaking.

However, in a separate (lengthy) taped discussion with Joe he discusses a number of topics, mostly stigma, his films, politics & mental illness. He also talks about the fact the he quit drinking and has started practicing yoga, he exercises, etc. He believes in the theory that mental illness is genetic. I believe he mentioned his mother was diagnosed bipolar. Now, I haven’t seen his documentary but when his teaser states 87 million Americans suffer from a mental illness-I doubt (and I hope I’m incorrect) that he mentions why we have this false statistic. This number has increased drastically simply due to Big Pharma’s influence and a bunch of doctors started diagnosing people for a variety of reasons: more money in their pockets, get the patient in and out as quickly as possible, falsified data and studies…the list goes on and on. Instead of dealing with the true issue at hand, whether it be trauma or dysfunction, it seems Joe has partially bought into the quick fix system. And he’s using his celebrity status with people in the government in hopes that his message will be heard. That would be all fine and good except there are many flaws in his message. I agree with ending stigma but ‘his message’ goes much, much deeper than that.

In chapter 15 of the discussion linked above someone asked him if he’s tried alternative treatments like acupuncture and he states that he does practice yoga and meditation, he partakes in talk therapy, 12 step groups, etc. He seems to be all over the map and that is fine. It is his path. But it will truly disturb me if he does not mention Big Pharma’s influence within our modern psychiatric world (doctors, NAMI, etc) in his documentary, No Kidding, Me Too!

 

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….

 

now is the time to act April 5, 2009

Now is the time. It was a phrase President Obama used frequently that inspired me, gave me hope.

If you google “Obama now is the time” you will find:

Obama: Now Is The Time For Iraq Withdrawal

Now is the time to protect our planet: Obama

Obama: “Now Is The Time For Congress To Act”

and this speech truly inspired me:

Today I must wonder-was it just a speech? Smoke and mirrors? I am beginning to question the man I voted for. A man who I believed wanted to unite Americans, end the war, fix the economy, create a transparent government and on and on. Now, believe me, I know that our current President has one hell of a mess to clean up. I wouldn’t want his job in a million years but…

Right now this is what I’m seeing: questionable cabinet appointments like Tim Geithner. Focusing on a war in Afghanistan when we need to focus on our country and get out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama is a man who once said, “I don’t oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war.” Well, during these incredibly tough economic times I do not see how moving troops (slowly) out of Iraq and sending them to Afghanistan is smart. I personally feel it is dumb. Our troops are exhausted. They need to come home. We are not going to end the “war on terrorism” by moving into another country-those that do hate our country and want to attack us will just move somewhere else. We can’t hunt them down in this manner. It is absolutely absurd. No wonder we are hated by so many countries-we keep attacking them! The fact of the matter is: war is a money-making business and it seems our President is going back on his word. sad. And then there was the 62% federal cigarette tax increase effective on, of all days, April Fool’s Day. This is what his administration had to say: (more…)

 

paging Bill Maher and Sen. Grassley

thanks to Stan for alerting me of this new information and here’s a snippet from the Philadelphia Inquirer:

AstraZeneca P.L.C. paid Florida child psychiatrist Jorge Armenteros to talk to other doctors about prescribing Seroquel, the company’s powerful antipsychotic.

And until yesterday, Armenteros also was listed as the chair and a voting member of a Food and Drug Administration advisory committee with a lot of power over Seroquel, which generated $4.45 billion in sales last year for AstraZeneca, whose U.S. headquarters are in Wilmington.

On Wednesday, the advisory committee is expected to decide whether to expand dramatically the use of Seroquel XR, an extended-release version of the drug, which is used to treat depression and anxiety. But five members – including Armenteros, who did not return a call to his Coral Gables, Fla., office seeking comment – will not be voting.

Why not?

Paul Pennock and Steve Sheller, lawyers who are suing AstraZeneca and other makers of antipsychotics on behalf of patients who say the drugs triggered their diabetes, say it’s because they uncovered company documents revealing potential conflicts of interest.

AstraZeneca said yesterday it had no say regarding which committee members vote, and referred questions to the FDA.

Company spokesman Tony Jewell said, “AstraZeneca believes the Advisory Board and the FDA will make the appropriate scientific and medical determination concerning the benefit-risk profile of the company’s supplemental new drug applications for Seroquel XR in major depressive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.”

FDA spokeswoman Sandy Walsh said that temporary members sometimes replace standing committee members but that the agency does not say why such substitutions occur. Armenteros remains the chair of the standing committee until his term expires in June, she said.

So, this news seems to debunk my Bob Dylan, the times they are a changin’ theory. We can’t trust anyone. Why am I surprised? This news is extremely disturbing and I take it personally because well, I took Seroquel. I continue to see doctors push it. My grandmother died from complications of diabetes and she’d been on psych meds most of her life. This is not a game. We are not guinea pigs. We are human beings.

I’d like to see Senator Grassley on this committee. Also, let’s see, um, Bill Maher. And the millions of patients that have taken Seroquel. Sure some of us may have a conflict of interest but it would be something desperately needed here: THE TRUTH.

 

Biederman and 2 other Harvard researchers subpoenaed! March 28, 2009

Filed under: big pharma,corrupt doctors,corruption — clementine @ 11:37 pm
Tags: ,

Hmmm…maybe Biederman will get what he deserves.

According to this NY Times article he has been subpoenaed:

Federal prosecutors have issued a subpoena seeking information about the work and statements of three prominent Harvard researchers who have been the focus of a Congressional investigation into conflicts of interest in medicine.

The researchers — Drs. Joseph Biederman, Thomas Spencer and Timothy E. Wilens — are named in the subpoena, which was sent on Wednesday to Fletch Trammel, a lawyer who represents state attorneys general in lawsuits that claim makers of antipsychotic drugs defrauded state Medicaid programs by improperly marketing their medicines.

The three researchers have advocated increased use of antipsychotic medicines in children and have accepted lucrative consulting agreements from the drugs’ makers. Senator Charles E. Grassley, an Iowa Republican investigating conflicts of interest in medicine, found that each of the researchers had failed to report much of his consulting income to Harvard. Mr. Grassley has also said that Dr. Biederman and Dr. Wilens might have violated federal and university research rules. The controversy led Dr. Biederman to suspend his work with the drug industry.

The subpoena was issued by the Federal District Court for the Massachusetts District; it was sought by the United States attorney in Massachusetts, Michael J. Sullivan, and by the Health and Human Services Department inspector general, Daniel R. Levinson. The subpoena seeks all documents produced in litigation relating to the three researchers as well as transcripts of any depositions of them.

Mr. Trammel said he would “comply with the subpoena and facilitate the U.S. attorney’s investigation in any way I can.”

Peter Spivack, a lawyer for Dr. Biederman, and Mark Paoletta, a lawyer for Dr. Wilens and Dr. Spencer, said they were unaware of a subpoena.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Sullivan declined to comment on the investigation.

 

Senator Grassley “won’t back down” March 9, 2009

Filed under: FDA — clementine @ 11:48 pm
Tags: ,

Okay, he’s a Republican and might be pro-war, deregulation and anti-peace, choice, etc. I don’t care, this man will not back down and I LOVE him for it:

Sen. Chuck Grassley is busy again, asking for information about the FDA’s approval last fall of a knee implant made by ReGen Biologics.

After a WSJ article about a controversy involving the approval appeared Friday, Grassley sent letters to the FDA and ReGen, based in Hackensack, N.J., asking for documents about their interactions, particularly those leading up to an FDA advisory committee meeting about the device held Nov. 14.

The Iowa Republican, who has been investigating the drug and device divisions of the FDA for several years, said his inquiry is based on emails that “make it look like the device maker was calling the shots and the FDA was going out of its way to accommodate the company.”

The Grassley letter also mentions a study that ReGen sponsored to support approval of its device. One of the study’s nine authors was William Rodkey, ReGen’s VP of scientific affairs, and Grassley says another was J. Richard Steadman, a company director. See ReGen’s directors here.

click here for the full story.