Sunday, December 21, 2003

The Disapperance of a teenpsych patient in Florida

When state social service workers asked a judge to hold their son Franklin against his will at Sunland Center, a North Florida institution for disabled people, Eddie and Charlotte Weekley handed him over voluntarily. ''They said it's a secure facility,'' Eddie Weekley said. ``They said my son would be safe there.'' Instead, they lost him. That was more than a year ago.

Franklin's medical records for 2001 show he was on two psychiatric drugs, Paxil and Topamax. The purpose of the drugs, records show: ``For behavior control.'' ''He stuttered,'' Eddie Weekley said. ``He couldn't talk.''

The Weekleys, and some caregivers, say they nevertheless understood what Franklin wanted. ''Franklin always wanted to go home,'' said Donna Fassett, executive director of The ARC Gateway in the Florida Panhandle, which offered services to Franklin before he was sent to Sunland.

On the evening of Dec. 5, 2002, a noticeably anxious Franklin called home, but was unable to reach his father, Charlotte Weekley said. When the father called back an hour or two later, workers at the institution refused to allow him to speak to Franklin. The next morning, Sunland administrators reported that Franklin was missing. They say he simply wandered out of the campus, which is surrounded by woods and does not have a fence. The Jackson County Sheriff's Office dispatched deputies on horseback, all-terrain vehicles and a helicopter in search of the teen.

Fassett said one Pensacola television station reported Franklin's story, but local newspapers showed little interest.

See this report to find out more about the story of this missing child.

3,000 Scots children on 'zombie' drug

Prescriptions of the psychiatric drug Ritalin to children have increased by almost 70% in the past four years in Scotland, heightening fears that a generation of ‘zombie’ youngsters is being created. Despite these fears, Scottish GPs are prescribing Ritalin and its generic equivalents to ever-increasing numbers of children. The latest Scottish Executive figures suggest there are 30,000 annual prescriptions of Ritalin-type drugs annually, up 68% on 1999.

As reported in the story at the link, MSP Adam Ingram, who asked health minister Malcolm Chisholm for the latest figures, said: "What is the reason for this huge increase? Is it an outbreak of ADHD, which I would doubt? Or is it just that people are saying let’s go down this road of managing children’s behaviour in this way?"

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

Glaxo Chief: Our Drugs Do Not Work on Most Patients

A senior executive with Britain's biggest drugs company has admitted that most prescription medicines do not work on most people who take them. Allen Roses, worldwide vice-president of genetics at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), said fewer than half of the patients prescribed some of the most expensive drugs actually derived any benefit from them.

It is an open secret within the drugs industry that most of its products are ineffective in most patients but this is the first time that such a senior drugs boss has gone public. His comments come days after it emerged that the NHS drugs bill has soared by nearly 50 per cent in three years, rising by £2.3bn a year to an annual cost to the taxpayer of £7.2bn. GSK announced last week that it had 20 or more new drugs under development that could each earn the company up to $1bn (£600m) a year.

Drugs for Alzheimer's disease work in fewer than one in three patients, whereas those for cancer are only effective in a quarter of patients. Drugs for migraines, for osteoporosis, and arthritis work in about half the patients, Dr Roses said. Most drugs work in fewer than one in two patients mainly because the recipients carry genes that interfere in some way with the medicine, he said.

"The vast majority of drugs - more than 90 per cent - only work in 30 or 50 per cent of the people," Dr Roses said. "I wouldn't say that most drugs don't work. I would say that most drugs work in 30 to 50 per cent of people. Drugs out there on the market work, but they don't work in everybody."

This goes against a marketing culture within the industry that has relied on selling as many drugs as possible to the widest number of patients - a culture that has made GSK one of the most profitable pharmaceuticals companies, but which has also meant that most of its drugs are at best useless, and even possibly dangerous, for many patients.

Saturday, December 13, 2003

Baughman Dispels The Myth of ADHD

Insight Magazine has an excellent interview with Dr. Fred A. Baughman Jr, on the subject of ADHD

Retired California neurologist Fred A. Baughman Jr. fired off a letter in January 2000 to U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher in response to Satcher's Report on Mental Illness. "Having gone to medical school," Baughman wrote, "and studied pathology — disease, then diagnosis — you and I and all physicians know that the presence of any bona fide disease, like diabetes, cancer or epilepsy, is confirmed by an objective finding — a physical or chemical abnormality. No demonstrable physical or chemical abnormality: no disease!

"You also know, I am sure," Baughman continued, "that there is no physical or chemical abnormality to be found in life, or at autopsy, in 'depression, bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses.' Why then are you telling the American people that 'mental illnesses' are 'physical' and that they are due to 'chemical disorders?'"

Good article as a resource

Thursday, December 11, 2003

Canadian psychologist stripped of licence faces misconduct charges in Ohio

A disgraced Canadian psychologist who lost his licence to practise in the 1980s after having sex with anorexic patients is now facing charges of sexual misconduct in the United States.

David Garner, 56, considered one of the world's leading experts on eating disorders, has been accused by the Ohio Board of Psychology of 15 ethics violations. They include multiple counts of negligence, impairment and engaging in sexual misconduct since September 2001 with a woman Garner supervises at the River Centre Clinic in Sylvania, Ohio. He's also accused of buying a $108,000 US condominium for the woman, who says their relationship was consensual.

Ontario regulators stripped Garner of his licence in 1989 for having sexual relations with a patient while he operated an eating disorder clinic in Toronto. At the time, Garner was already serving a two-year suspension after having sex with an 18-year-old anorexic patient. The suspension was one of the most severe penalties handed out by the Ontario Board of Examiners of Psychology, forcing him to resign from the Toronto General Hospital and the University of Toronto.

Garner is now a director at the River Centre Clinic, which specializes in treating eating disorders, but he's stepped down in light of the newest accusations.

Monday, December 08, 2003

Ritalin use in preteen children may lead to depression later in life

Ritalin use in preteen children may lead to depression later in life, studies of rats suggest.

It's an open question whether what passes for depression in lab rats has anything to do with depression in humans. But early use of Ritalin and other stimulant drugs seems to permanently alter animals' brains. That raises concerns that the same thing might be happening in children who take these drugs for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The findings come from a research team led by William A. Carlezon Jr., PhD, director of the behavioral genetics laboratory at McLean Hospital and associate professor at Harvard Medical School. The study appears in the Dec. 15 issue of Biological Psychiatry.

See the NIH Press Release here

Monday, December 01, 2003

Drug firms pay doctors to sign 'independent' clinical studies

A British psychiatrist was doing research on possible dangers of antidepressant drugs when a representative of a drug manufacturer came to him with an offer of help. You're a busy guy, the company rep said. Here's some background on our product.

He e-mailed Dr. David Healy a finished 12-page review paper with graphs and footnotes, ready to present at an upcoming conference. And for convenience, Healy's name appeared as the sole author, even though the psychiatrist had never seen a single word of it before.

The drug company wanted its advertising to look like an independent study -- a "massive" scientific fakery that top medical journals condemn because it prevents doctors from getting the straight facts on medicines they prescribe.

Healy looked a gift horse in the mouth. Fearing the drug company was too easy on its own multimillion-dollar product, he did his own writing. But the ghostwritten paper appeared verbatim at the conference and in a psychiatric journal anyway -- under another doctor's name.

The drug industry is quietly paying "independent" doctors to sign their names to work they never did -- and keep their mouths shut.

"That of course is unbelievably corrupt and horrible," said Dr. Drummond Rennie, deputy editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association.