Friday, July 30, 2004

Is the President On Psych drugs?

According to reports by Capitol Hill Blue, Bush is taking powerful drugs to control his depression, erratic behavior, and paranoia. White House physician Richard J. Tubb is giving Bush these drugs, which aides admit "can impair the President's mental faculties and decrease both his physical capabilities and his ability to respond to a crisis."

Uh-Oh. How scary is that? The repeated incidents of Bush falling off his couch and off his mountain bike attest to the powerful effects of these prescription drugs.

tip of the hat to Conspiracy Planet

Unhappy Workers Need Prozac - Bush Campaigner

As reported on MSNBC/Reuters, and seen on Belliciao in Europe

A campaign worker for President Bush said on Thursday American workers unhappy with low-quality jobs should find new ones -- or pop a Prozac to make themselves feel better. "Why don't they get new jobs if they're unhappy -- or go on Prozac?" said Susan Sheybani, an assistant to Bush campaign spokesman Terry Holt.

The comment was apparently directed to a colleague who was transferring a phone call from a reporter asking about job quality, and who overheard the remark. When told the Prozac comment had been overheard, Sheybani said: "Oh, I was just kidding."

While recent employment growth has buoyed Bush's economic record, Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry has argued the new jobs are not as good as those lost due to outsourcing in recent years. Nearly 1.1 million jobs have been lost since Bush took office in January 2001.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

Thousands Sue Makers Of Paxil

As seen in this story (with video) by WXII

Paxil is supposed to help people deal with depression but one woman said her life turned into a living hell after taking Paxil. Pamela Wu of WXII 12 News' sister station in Sacramento, Calf. reports thousands are now taking the manufacturer to court.
4,000 plaintiffs have joined a class-action lawsuit against Glaxo Smity Kline, the maker of Paxil. They said they are hooked on the drug and unable to quit.

"The drug company has a duty to warn the medical community. Clearly, they have failed that duty. Not only does the drug, in fact, cause dependence and withdrawal symptoms, which they're now reluctantly having to admit. The drug companies have known about that for years. Instead of informing the medical profession, they hid those risks," said Karen Barth Menzies, Attorney for Patients

Meanwhile the drug maker continues to protest it's innocence.

Monday, July 26, 2004

Psych on the run for Fraud, practicing without a license.

Earlier this month I received the following letter

Could you let me know the status of this "psychologist"? She treated my husband, myself, husband's ex-wife, their daughter and their son. Dr. Rita Lynne represented herself as a "clinical psychologist" and testified in court as an expert witness for the ex-wife. She testified that she gave the ex-wife a psychological test and evaluation which significantly affected the outcome of the divorce proceedings.

We paid this woman to help our family assuming that she was a psychologist who was licensed in the state of California. I called the medical board and they said she's being investigated and we should file a complaint. We have transcripts of her court testimony where she tells the judge that she's a psychologist. Any info is greatly appreciated.


Well we just spotted this news item from the Tri Valley Herald

As also seen in this story in the Alameda Times Star Online:

A Pleasanton woman who posed as a psychologist and served as board chairwoman of ValleyCare Health System could face criminal charges -- possibly as early as next week -- according to the Alameda County district attorney's office. Rita Lynne was a prominent Bay Area psychologist and active in community groups until last July, when the husband of one of her patients looked into her record and learned she was not licensed to practice psychology or marriage counseling in the state.

The California Board of Psychology concluded several weeks ago in its investigation that Lynne did not have the credentials to practice psychology, according to Deputy District Attorney Marty Brown. Lynne had previously said that she received a master's degree and doctorate in psychology at the University of Colo rado at Boulder.

"The matter has been handed over to us and I should be reviewing the files in the next few days," Brown said.

He added that Lynne could face charges, possibly as early as next week, but did yet have the details.

Practicing psychology without a license is a misdemeanor, but Lynne could also be charged with fraud. In addition, she could possibly face perjury charges, Brown said. Former patients have said she gave expert court testimony in their divorce proceedings. Lynne served on ValleyCare's board of directors for six years and was chairwoman for one year. ValleyCare physicians referred patients to her private psychology practice in Pleasanton. She also ran a support group for ValleyCare patients undergoing drastic weight-loss surgery.

The discovery last summer that Lynne was not licensed to practice in the state and that she was under investigation for falsifying her credentials shocked Pleasanton community leaders, her patients and hospital officials.

Lynne's whereabouts are unknown. She abruptly left ValleyCare's board and resigned from the Pleasanton Economic Vitality Committee last July and shut down her private practice.

Brown said his office would attempt to locate Lynne and, if unsuccessful, he could issue a warrant for her arrest. Officials for ValleyCare, which has services in Pleasanton, Livermore and Tracy, have not heard from Lynne since she left last July, a spokeswoman said.

Lynne turned up on a Web search Thursday as the instructor for an online class called "After the marriage ends," run through San Diego-based Education to Go, which provides online classes to hundreds of colleges and universities nationwide.

A photo and accompanying biography on the course description Web page describes Lynne as a Ph.D. who has been "teaching healthy lifestyle management for more than 25 years" and has "developed over 20 masters degree courses and other programs for colleges and other professional institutions."

The course description mentions her book Financial Freedom for Women, which continues to sell on The book jacket touts a doctorate credential. A spokeswoman for Connecticut-based Thomson Learning, which recently acquired Education to Go, said four students were enrolled in Lynne's current online class and the class has been halted.

Suicidal behaviour is more likely in the first month after starting antidepressants

As reported in the British Medical Journal, suicidal behaviour is more likely in the first month after starting antidepressants, especially during the first nine days.

The researchers—Dr Hershel Jick and colleagues with the Boston Collaborative Drug Surveillance Program, Boston University, Massachusetts—compared the risk of non-fatal suicidal behaviour in patients in the United Kingdom who began treatment with one of three antidepressants (the SSRIs fluoxetine and paroxetine and the tricyclic amitriptyline) with the risk in patients who started taking the older tricyclic dosulepin (formerly known as dothiepin).

Cases taking a single antidepressant were taken from the base population of 159,810 users of at least one of the four antidepressants who had been prescribed the drug within 90 days of the date of suicidal behaviour or ideation [i.e., thoughts]. Controls, also taken from the base population, were matched for taking the same antidepressant within 90 days before the case showed suicidal behaviour, age, and sex, but the controls had shown no suicidal behaviour.

In an editorial in the same journal (pp 379-81), Simon Wessely of the Institute of Psychiatry, London, wrote, "The results confirm that antidepressant prescription is indeed associated with suicidal behaviour, and strongly so."

Psych sells fake insanity certificates for easy divorce

As reported on the New Kelera news for India

A doctor at the Agra mental asylum, absconding after a sting operation showed him selling fake certificates declaring women insane so their husbands can get easy divorces, surrendered before a court Friday. S.K. Gupta has been evading arrest since the exposé July 1. Using spy cameras, filmed him selling fake certificates for Rs.10,000 each.

"Gupta was accused of issuing fake certificates declaring women insane to enable their husbands get a divorce for a certain amount of money," said an official here. He admitted the physician had been eluding arrest for several weeks. Gupta surrendered before an Agra court, alleging he had been framed by rival doctors.

Friday, July 23, 2004

Unprofessional Conduct Charges against Ohio Psychologists

As reported in The Plain Dealer

A Solon psychologist has been accused of multiple counts of unprofessional conduct for falsely certifying that one of his patients, a habitual drunken driver, completed a substance-abuse program. The charges, filed Friday by the State Board of Psychology, accuse psychologist James E. Kaplar of submitting a document to the Parma office of the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles last August that wrongly claimed his patient, Noelle C. Malott, had completed outpatient and after-care programs at Glenbeigh Hospital in 2001.

Malott, 36, who lives in Solon, pleaded guilty in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court in May to a felony charge of tampering with records after being accused of forging the signature of a Glenbeigh administrator on another BMV form.

She was placed on probation for two years, ordered to perform 100 hours of community service and to submit to regular drug testing.

Court records show that Malott previously was allowed to enroll in drug treatment in lieu of conviction after being charged with possession of drugs in 2000.

BMV records show that she was dubbed a "habitual alcoholic" in 2002 and that she has numerous convictions for driving while intoxicated, speeding or driving without a license.

Malott's phone has been disconnected and she could not be reached for comment. Kaplar, 61, did not return a phone call.

The 11 charges filed against Kaplar also accuse him of failing to respond to requests for information from the board and of improperly supervising psychologists at Parker Hendry & Associates in Westlake and Cornerstone Pregnancy Services in Elyria.


In a separate case, Beachwood psychologist Warren Grossman surrendered his license to the board, ending an investigation of allegations that he kissed, groped and solicited a female patient for sex during therapy sessions in 2000 and 2001.

In a letter to the board, Grossman, 63, said he was giving up his license because he wanted to devote himself exclusively to lecturing and writing. He could not be reached for comment.

Grossman directs the Institute of Light in Beachwood. He also is the author of "To Be Healed by the Earth," a book in which he says he healed himself from a near-death experience after contracting a parasite in Brazil by going outside, lying on the ground and drawing on nature's energy.

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Court psychologist quits after accusations of faking killer's IQ test results.

The chief psychologist who advises Cook County judges in mental competency matters has resigned amid allegations that he changed answers on a convicted murderer's IQ test and then lied about it in court last spring. Timothy C. Cummings of Cook County's Forensic Clinical Services submitted a letter of resignation earlier this month to his boss, Dr. Mathew Markos, a county official said.

Bruce Wisniewski, human resources administrator for the Circuit Court of Cook County reported that the letter did not say why Cummings was resigning, and neither Cummings nor his attorney returned calls Monday seeking comment. At the time of his resignation, Cummings had been placed on temporary unpaid suspension, Wisniewski said. The county was investigating allegations that Cummings changed answers on convicted killer Randall Jarrett's IQ test.

The issue came to light during a March 23 court hearing to determine if Jarrett had a high enough IQ to be eligible for the death penalty. Jarrett and his uncle robbed, beat and killed 50-year-old Herman Bailey on the North Side in 1997. Cummings gave Jarrett a comprehensive IQ test last year. The results showed he was "dull-average," but not mentally retarded.

During the March hearing, defense attorneys questioned the results after Cummings read a test answer that was more complete than what their copies of Jarrett's test showed. Defense attorneys then said they found another discrepancy in a test answer.

Cummings attributed the differences to a photocopying error. But defense attorneys claimed Cummings had changed Jarrett's responses to make him seem more intelligent -- and was now trying to deny it. Cummings denied in court that he did anything inappropriate, and in April he told the Sun-Times he would consult with an attorney and look for "some possible redress." Wisniewski said Cummings' resignation essentially has put an end to the county's investigation.

Friday, July 16, 2004

Suspension upheld for child psychiatrist

The Texas State Board of Medical Examiners temporarily suspended the license of an Arlington child psychiatrist Tuesday after reaffirming a decision made in May that allowing him to continue practicing medicine would pose a public threat.

Donald Hughes, 53, is accused of sexual misconduct with adolescent patients. He was arrested in April on two charges of indecency with a child after two adolescent patients accused him of sexual misconduct. He was released on bail the same day he was arrested.

<>In May, he was arrested on a charge of indecency/ fondling after a third child came forward. He surrendered at Tarrant County Jail and was released on bail. Hughes is contesting his suspension. His attorney, Robert Gammage, declined to comment.

In the next step of the process, a formal complaint will be filed at the State Office of Administrative Hearings, said Jill Wiggins, a spokeswoman for the Texas State Board of Medical Examiners. The date for that hearing has not been set.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Schools Shouldn't Play Doctor

As Reported by the Cato Institute:

The Department of Health and Human Services will announce this fall a plan to improve access to mental health services. The initiative follows the release last year of a report commissioned by President George W. Bush recommending that "schools should . . . play a larger role in mental health care for children," screening public schoolchildren for mental illness (with parental consent) and providing counseling and referral services. The HHS should reject these recommendations. Until parents can choose their children's schools, expanding public schools' role in treating mental illness could be harmful to both students and parents.

At first glance, public schools seem like a great place to address childhood mental illness. The 2003 report notes that "more than 52 million students . . . [pass] through the Nation's schools on any given weekday," and early diagnosis improves the odds that medical treatments will succeed.

But consider Daniel Taylor. Like more than one million American children, Daniel was prescribed methylphenidate (a.k.a. Ritalin) to control his attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Ritalin is at the center of an emotional debate. Though apparently a safe and effective treatment, many believe the drug has become a convenient means of quieting unruly children. Even with a correct diagnosis, some experts worry that doctors, parents, and teachers have become too quick to medicate.

Thus, when Chad Taylor noticed that his son was losing sleep and his appetite--two of Ritalin's known side effects--he took Daniel off the drug. When Daniel's school found out, it reported the Taylors to child welfare authorities.

Soon the New Mexico Department of Children, Youth and Families dispatched a detective and social worker to visit the Taylors. Chad Taylor told a reporter: "The detective told me if I did not medicate my son, I would be arrested for child abuse and neglect." Though the police dispute that charge, they did claim, as an "ABC News" story put it, "parents could be charged in situations like his."

Much more on this at the original article

Harry Potter author JK Rowling shames Czech Republic into Giving Up Psychiatric Caged Beds.

The Czech Republic has said it will remove caged beds from psychiatric facilities, following a letter from Harry Potter author JK Rowling. Caged beds with metal bars, used to restrain patients in psychiatric facilities, have long been condemned by human rights groups, the EU and the UN.

The Czech health ministry said it would immediately remove the beds from hospital wards across the country. JK Rowling's letter had contributed to changing their policy, it said. JK Rowling wrote a letter calling for an end to the practice to Czech President Vaclav Klaus and outgoing Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla. In the Czech Republic, children as well as adults are restrained in caged beds. Some Czech psychiatrists say they are needed to protect and restrain patients.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Loren Mosher, Psychiatrist and Human Rights Activist, Has Died

As reported on InfoShop

But He's Still Fighting His Profession. As Loren Died, His Newest Book Goes to Press

Statement by David Oaks, Director, MindFreedom

Loren Mosher was like a Schindler of psychiatry, as in the film "Schindler's List."

One of our Schindlers has died. Loren Mosher was a psychiatrist who fought his own profession's oppression, who was a tremendous ally to survivors of psychiatric human rights violations. He died this weekend in Berlin after struggling with a liver disease. This is just a brief note to let people who care about human rights in the mental health system know about this loss of a real hero. If you did not know about Loren's contribution to this area, I've put just a little bit at the bottom of this that I encourage you to read, such as his famous letter of resignation from the American Psychiatric Association.

I'm lucky that Loren was also a personal friend of mine, and on the board of MindFreedom. He did so many things to support me, our group, so many groups, and our entire social change movement. Loren was also superb at encouraging other mental health professionals to have the simple courage and decency to speak out, such as in his work with the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology. He knew how to enjoy life, too. Loren knew how to overthrow psychiatric oppression and have a nice day, such as in his world travels.Loren would be delighted to know that even death is not stopping him from challenging his psychiatric profession!

Loren has worked for many years on a book he co-authored entitled "Soteria: Through Madness to Deliverance." Final details for the book's publishing were being prepared at about the time Loren died. A colleague of Loren told me today the book will be out by September, and perhaps even by the time a memorial is planned for Loren in August. Soteria tells the story of his successful fight to create a commonsense alternative that worked, an alternative to the mental health system that did not use the bizarre bullying and poisoning with massive amounts of drugs that has captured the current mental health system.

Soteria was just a house, with regular people (not mental health professionals) trained to take care of people not by pouring toxic concoctions of psychiatric drugs down these clients throats... not by pushing these clients around... but instead by building relationships. Soteria clients did better, of course, than those who were pushed through the strangling ringer of the current mental health system. But that data threatened the mental health system, and the profession has done much to try to suppress the "evidenced based" humane, empowering model that Soteria championed.

How many people's lives and minds were saved because Loren helped them escape psychiatry's systemic abuse, both in Soteria and in many other ways, internationally? Well, Loren is still winning. He is winning out with his new book. And he's winning out with the thousands of psychiatric survivors and allies his life has touched, who will carry on his struggle, with, hopefully, the same good humor, intelligence, and persistence that I always saw in Loren.

Psychiatric survivor Peter Lehmann announced the news that Loren had died in the Anthroposophic Clinic Havelhoehe in Berlin, Germany during his last ditch effort to fight his liver disease. Loren lived in San Diego, California, USA. There will be more to say about Loren's legacy for the movement to change psychiatry. I will personally speak about him this Bastille Day, July 14, which for 24 years has been a day of protest of human rights abuse in the mental health system (see

Also, I am sure many of us will join me in remembering Loren at ICSPP's conference and at Alternatives 2004. Poignantly, we psychiatric survivors were planning an award for Loren at ICSPP; thankfully, he knew about our often-too-slow but loving efforts to appreciate him. Below you'll find some biographical information, articles, and a blurb I submitted about Loren's latest book. Thank you Loren Mosher, for fighting the good fight with such style, cunning, wit and care. We mourn you, we remember you, and we will redouble our efforts to stop the violations you hated, and promote the humane alternatives you dearly loved. May Loren's life encourage many more Schindlers in the psychiatric profession to have the wisdom and bravery and love and decency to speak out about the nightmarishly horrible abuse that is inherent in the psychiatric system, to confront it, to even laugh in its face, and to build loving alternatives to it.


Loren's work:

Info about Soteria:

Psychology Today article:

Letter of resignation from American Psychiatric Association:

Monday, July 12, 2004

NJ Pays Psychiatric Patients In Strip-Search Settlement

More than two dozen psychiatric patients in New Jersey who were strip-searched will receive five-thousand dollars each. The state agreed to pay the money to settle a federal lawsuit filed on behalf of 26 patients at the Hagedorn Gero-Psychiatric Center in Glen Gardner. Under the settlement, the state also agreed to new procedures on searching patients. The new rules say patients can be searched for their own safety or the safety of others. Searches can't be used as punishment. The patients were strip-searched in 1999 after a staff member thought she smelled smoke. The searches continued for two to three weeks.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Psych Hospital Closing

The psychiatric hospital at Hastings Regional Center already has dropped below a minimum population threshold to allow its closure, Nebraska state officials told a new oversight commission Friday. Some commission members would like to see the Hastings hospital close by Oct. 1, the Health and Human Services' scenario for freeing up the maximum amount of state funding for more community-based services. Gov. Mike Johanns has said that would be his preference. A mental health reform law passed by the Legislature earlier this year authorized the closure of hospital services at the Hastings Regional Center and the Norfolk Regional Center to free up money for more community-based mental health services, such as group homes and day treatment centers.

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Psych Fantasized About Killing Off Patients

As reported in the New York Daily News

A Long Island shrink caught on tape plotting to kill six people was only fantasizing about going on a bloody murder spree, prosecutors said ... Richard Karpf, 52, pleaded guilty to weapons possession but was let off the hook on charges that he planned to murder a patient with whom he had an affair and five other people.

The Great Neck psychiatrist, who spent three months behind bars last year, likely will not serve more time in jail, Nassau Judge Donald Belfi indicated. The plea was a quiet ending to what had been an explosive case.

In February 2003, investigators said they taped Karpf describing plans to shoot his victims in the head and heart, chop them up and dump them in the ocean. Karpf even researched Long Island's most shark-infested waters, Nassau Assistant District Attorney Robert Biancavilla said at the time.

But yesterday Biancavilla downplayed the murder plot, saying it turned out to be more fantasy than reality. "He never named people he wanted to kill," the prosecutor said. "Both psychiatrists for the people and the defense determined that Mr. Karpf has severe psychological issues."

In addition to surrendering his medical license, Karpf pleaded guilty to criminal possession of a weapon - the .22-caliber handgun he purchased from an undercover cop posing as a crook.

He also faces an $8 million malpractice lawsuit from the woman he allegedly marked for death after she threatened to have his medical license revoked when breaking off their affair. Karpf and his defense lawyer Stephen Scaring declined to comment.

Friday, July 09, 2004

Delusional Psychiatrist Kept a Hit List

A delusional former psychiatrist Jean Eric Gassy kept a hit list of those he blamed for his professional and financial ruin, the Adelaide Supreme Court has heard. A jury yesterday heard Jean Eric Gassy believed mental health director Dr. Margaret Tobin started a conspiracy to have him thrown out of the psychiatric ranks – and even made an aborted attempt on her life just five months before she was fatally shot. Gassy, 48, has pleaded not guilty to murdering Dr Tobin on October 14, 2002, inside the Citi Centre building on Hindmarsh Square.

Peter Brebner, QC, prosecuting, said Gassy and Dr Tobin had worked together at Sydney's St George Hospital in the early 1990s. When Dr Tobin questioned his competence to work as a psychiatrist, Gassy came to believe she was conspiring with "her contacts" to have him deregistered.

Psychiatrist Faces More Sexual Abuse Charges

A London, Ontario psychiatrist has already disciplined three times for unprofessional conduct with female patients. Dr. Stanley Dobrowolski nows faces charges he stepped over the line with three more patients. He had appeared before the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario three other times over complaints from female students at Western. The numerous charges are listed at the link

Update, as seen in the Toronto Star

When a female patient of psychiatrist Stanley Dobrowolski raised fears during treatment that her boyfriend might cheat on her, the doctor's advice left her shocked. "The doctor said that all men cheat," the woman testified yesterday in a disciplinary hearing held by the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons into sexually related misconduct charges against Dobrowolski.

"I was stunned, I guess. It wasn't the reaction that I thought I'd hear," she said.

The former patient says that during eight appointments with Dobrowolski in the late 1990s and 2001, the psychiatrist gave her unusual advice, conducted physical examinations and commented about her weight. The woman is one of three female complainants who lodged complaints against Dobrowolski after seeking treatment from him between 1989 and 2001. None of the woman can be named due to a publication ban.

These are the latest in a string of misconduct charges against Dobrowolski for sexual improprieties involving nine complainants which have triggered three previous disciplinary hearings and findings of guilt.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Prominent Polish Child Psychologist Admits Sexually Abusing Minors

Authorities in Poland say a prominent child psychologist has admitted sexually abusing minors. Andrzej Samson is well known for writing extensively about raising children, and has also served as a court expert in pedophilia cases. He was taken into custody last month amid police suspicions about his link to pornographic photographs discovered in a garbage dump near his Warsaw home. A prosecutor has told reporters that Samson has admitted to charges in the case. Poland has cracked down on pedophilia in recent years. Word of Samson's case follows the convictions of two Roman Catholic priests of child sex abuse.

Suit accuses drug makers of aiding in deaths of children

A psychiatrist's federal whistleblower lawsuit alleges children have been harmed and even killed by the misuse of drugs he blames on aggressive marketing practices by some of the nation's largest drug manufacturers. Dr. Stefan P. Kruszewski claims that in July 2003 he was fired from a consulting job reviewing spending by the Pennsylvania state Department of Public Welfare because he reported "public corruption, including fraud and other violations of civil and criminal law constituting pervasive abuses."

The Harrisburg physician accuses the drug companies of distorting statistics, violating regulations and exaggerating the effect of their psychotropic products — practices he says have victimized juvenile wards of the state, mental patients and prisoners. "They have used their influence to promote the use of their products on innocent people devoid of evidence that the use of their drugs would have any beneficial or positive effect ... and have not employed proper scientific or clinical study to support their recommendations," according to the suit.

Among the allegedly "corrupt practices" by drug companies described in the suit are overmedication of patients, fraudulent billing, abuses of Pennsylvania's involuntary commitment law and "mistreatment of children resulting in deaths in Pennsylvania, Texas and Oklahoma." The defendants are Public Welfare Secretary Estelle B. Richman and two of her subordinates; the King of Prussia-based company Kruszewski was working for, Columbus Medical Services LLC, and two Columbus executives; and drug makers Pfizer Inc., Johnson & Johnson, Novartis, AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline and Eli Lilly & Co. The drugs at issue include Paxil, Neurontin, Gortan, Seroquel, Topmax, Risperdal, Trileptal and Zyprexa.

The suit was filed Thursday in U.S. Middle District Court in Harrisburg. The defendants or their spokesmen all either did not return phone messages or declined comment Tuesday.

Don Bailey, Kruszewski's lawyer, said patient confidentiality rules prevented giving specific examples of patients who have died as a result of the alleged practices, and none were cited in the lawsuit. The drug companies' liability, he said, stems from creating "a political environment where it is expected of supervisors of these state programs that they squelch or dismiss or discourage expressions about the abuses of these drugs. Large money, big money, big corporations, huge businesses are so overwhelming our political system that medical judgments and political judgments are being affected by who's paying money. And the weak and the powerless are who's being victimized by this thing," Bailey said.

Sunday, July 04, 2004

US National Institutes of Health investigated for Conflicts of Interest with Drug Companies

As Reported in the British Medical Journal

The US National Institutes of Health (NIH) has been criticised by members of Congress for letting employees accept lucrative consultancy assignments from drug and biotechnology companies. On 22 June the director of the NIH, Dr Elias Zerhouni, told the House Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, "In retrospect, there was not a sufficient safeguard against the perception of conflict of interest." He said the NIH would tighten rules about employees' consultancy work.

The NIH's troubles began on 7 December 2003. In a front page article the Los Angeles Times described how a small number of the institutes' 17 000 employees had received millions of dollars of income from outside sources since 1995 ( 2003 December 7;sect A: 1). That in itself was not illegal, although the public and even many senators and representatives were probably unaware of the practice.

Restrictions on outside work by NIH employees were loosened in 1995 by Dr Harold Varmus, the Nobel prize winner who headed the organisation at the time, in an effort to recruit leading scientists who could earn much more at universities. In his testimony on 22 June Dr Zerhouni outlined what he described as "a major reform" since then.

"We are severely restricting the ability of NIH employees to consult with industry," he said. He suggested prohibiting holding stock in biotechnology or drug companies, consulting by senior staff and staff who award research grants, and receiving stock as payment or holding stock in drug or biotechnology companies, limiting outside work to 400 hours a year, and limiting payment to 25% of salary—as well as random audits to detect unreported outside work. He also called for more public financial disclosures by employees.

However, the Washington Post (2004 June 23;sect A: 19) reported that one researcher at the National Cancer Institute continued to receive consultancy fees, although he testified that he had suspended the agreement. It also reported that the blue ribbon committee had turned up about 100 consultancy arrangements that NIH officials didn't know about. A neurologist at the National Institute of Mental Health, Dr Trey Sunderland, had received more than $500000 (£273250; {euro}410340) over the past five years in fees, honorariums, and expense repayments from Pfizer, but the amounts had not been reported. Dr Elias Zerhouni admitted that safeguards were inadequate

The Wall Street Journal (2004 June 22;sect A: 4) reported that the investigation into conflicts of interest is being expanded to 15 other federal agencies.

Child Abuse in Chandigarh

As reported in the Chandigarh Newsline of, no one is calling the psychs for help with child abuse, despite several recent cases in the local news.

Even the recent spate of child sexual abuse cases reported in the media (as many as eight cases in June itself and four cases in the last four days only), have failed to shake up the enforcement agencies.

The evidence, to say the least, is damning. The Women and Child Support Unit, having especially been set up to provide counselling to abuse victims, has not registered a single case of child sexual abuse.

Approach the various child counselling departments at PGI or Government Medical College and Hospital (GMCH), Sector 32 and you get almost the same response. Counsellors at the child helpline at PGI also say they receive no such calls, the PGI Psychiatry Department gives a rough estimate of handling some 20 cases annually and the Psychiatry Department at GMCH again has no specific data tabulated on the incidence of child abuse in the city.

‘‘There is no doubt about it. Child sexual abuse is rampant in our society and across the globe. And it is quite common in Chandigarh. In a 1996 survey done with schoolchildren in Delhi, 60 per cent were found to have been sexually abused,’’ says Dr B S Chavan, head, Department of Psychiatry, GMCH-32.

Ask him why no data is available and he responds, ‘‘Most cases that we get are referred to us from other departments and later turn out to be sexual abuse cases. So, we don’t tabulate these figures. But yes, it is our collective responsibility to maintain a record, form self-help family groups where parents discuss the issue in seminars, forums. Conferences and continued medical education programmes for doctors on the issue should also be held.’’

Something does not add up here. Whose side are they on?

Misfits swept under carpet

As reported in Kathemerini, the Greek English Language newspaper, it seems that psychs in greece don't like getting their hands dirty handling people they are supposed to be actually helping anyhow.

A crackdown on Athens “undesirables” ahead of the Olympics has reached such a high level that staff in one of the capital’s two psychiatric hospitals have twice walked out in protest, hospital sources said yesterday. An unusually high number of drug addicts, alcoholics and mentally ill people have been turned over to medical staff in recent weeks at the behest of the authorities, the sources said.

“Following arrests by the police, the prosecutor issues sectioning orders that force us to lock up drug addicts, alcoholics or mentally ill people,” said Michalis Yiannakos, head of the trade union representing 550 staff at the Dromokaitio Psychiatric Hospital. He said admissions had risen 50 percent in recent days compared to previous months, an increase that led to staff at the hospital stopping work twice this week in protest.

The union has threatened further action if judicial and police authorities continue to oblige the hospital to take in people who they said did not belong in mental hospitals.

Like drug addicts, alcoholics and the mentally ill, who, ironically enough, are probably better off not being in the psych facility in the first place

New Vitae Psychiatric Treatment Center to close

as reported in The Morning Callo newspaper of New Jersey

The 5-year-old legal battle between Upper Saucon Township and the New Vitae psychiatric treatment center at Mount Trexler Manor will end within the next two to four weeks, the township solicitor told residents Tuesday. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has rejected arguments from owner Adam Devlin's attorneys to allow the New Vitae psychiatric treatment to continue serving approximately 90 patients, effectively ending the dispute.

''New Vitae and the outpatient treatment will have to cease and desist,'' solicitor Jeffrey Dimmich said at Tuesday's supervisors meeting. The township began hearings in 1999 to force Devlin and Mount Trexler to halt treatment programs at the former nursing home, arguing they violated a zoning permit that only allowed a residential facility. Lehigh County Judge Lawrence J. Brenner upheld the township's subsequent order to stop the programs and Brenner was later upheld by a Commonwealth Court. Mount Trexler and Devlin asked the state's top court to stay that ruling and approve an appeal of the order. Both requests were denied in a brief ruling issued June 17. ''That ends it as far as the zoning matter is concerned,'' Dimmich said.

However, the patients probably will be allowed to stay at Mount Trexler. Attorneys for Devlin and the patients offered a settlement in April that could include tighter security to eliminate complaints from nearby home owners who say patients regularly intruded onto their properties and houses. Patients entered private homes and allegedly trespassed on the property of the nearby St. Michael's Elementary School, alarming students, according to testimony in the 1999 zoning hearings.

George Bloeser, who lives at the corner of Limeport Pike and St. Joseph's Road, just down the street from the facility, said neighbors are happy with the high court's ruling. He also said most have no problem with the psychiatric patients remaining on the premises — with conditions.

''If they would ever get serious about taking care of people … those kinds of issues, and having a real guard at the gate instead of a patient, they can live there,'' Bloeser said after the board meeting. ''We're happy we've finally gotten there. We feel Judge Brenner really did a good job. So did our attorneys and the township attorneys and staff. ''I would have been shocked if the town had been overturned,'' Bloeser said. Dimmich said state Department of Public Works regulations give Mount Trexler 30 days to discontinue its programs, and the township probably will not fight that.

Psychiatry is not getting more popular, it seems

Saturday, July 03, 2004

The True Costs of Drugs

As seen in the Sonoma Valley Voice

Material Costs of Medical Compounds
Investigative Research Reveals the True Costs of Drugs
By Sharon Davis / Department of Commerce

Did you ever wonder how much it costs a drug company for the active Ingredient in prescription medications? Some people think it must cost a lot, since many drugs sell for more than $2.00 per tablet. We did a search of offshore chemical synthesizers that supply the active ingredients found in drugs approved by the FDA. As we have revealed in past issues of Life Extension, a significant percentage of drugs sold in the United States contain active ingredients made in other countries.

In our independent investigation of how much profit drug companies really make, we obtained the actual price of active ingredients used in some of the most popular drugs sold in America. The chart below speaks for itself.

Celebrex 100 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $130.27
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.60
Percent markup: 21,712%

Claritin 10 mg
Consumer Price (100 tablets): $215.17
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.71
Percent markup: 30,306%

Keflex 250 mg
Consumer Price (100 tablets): $157.39
Cost of general active ingredients: $1.88
Percent markup: 8,372%

Norvasc 10 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $188.29
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.14
Percent markup: 134,493%

Paxil 20 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $220.27
Cost of general active ingredients: $7.60
Percent markup: 2,898%

Prevacid 30 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $44.77
Cost of general active ingredients: $1.01
Percent markup: 34,136%

Prilosec 20 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $360.97
Cost of general active ingredients $0.52
Percent markup: 69,417%

Prozac 20 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets) : $247.47
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.11
Percent markup: 224,973%

Tenormin 50 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $104.47
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.13
Percent markup: 80,362%

Vasotec 10 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $102.37
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.20
Percent markup: 51,185%

Xanax 1 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets) : $136.79
Cost of general active ingredients: $0.024
Percent markup: 569,958%

Zestril 20 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets) $89.89
Cost of general active ingredients $3.20
Percent markup: 2,809%

Zithromax 600 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $1,482.19
Cost of general active ingredients: $18.78
Percent markup: 7,892%

Zocor 40 mg
Consumer price (100 tablets): $350.27
Cost of general active ingredients: $8.63
Percent markup: 4,059%

Zoloft 50 mg
Consumer price: $206.87
Cost of general active ingredients: $1.75
Percent markup: 11,821%

Since the cost of prescription drugs is so outrageous, I thought everyone I knew should know about this. Please read the following and pass it on. It pays to shop around. This helps to solve the mystery as to why they can afford to put a Walgreens on every corner.

Psycho Shrink Guilty

As reported in the NY Post
(See also this report in NewsDay)

A Long Island psychiatrist charged with conspiring to buy a gun and silencer to kill six people and feed them to sharks has surrendered his medical license and will avoid more jail time by seeing a shrink himself. In a Mineola courtroom yesterday, Dr. Richard Karpf, 52, of Great Neck, signed away his license to practice medicine as part of his plea bargain to avoid 25 years behind bars. He plead guilty to one lesser count of gun possession, and the other charges — including conspiracy — were dropped. Nassau County Judge Donald Belfi asked Karpf what he did for a living and Karpf replied he was a physician. "Former," his lawyer Stephen Scaring corrected him.

"Former licensed physician in the state of New York," said Karpf. He admitted he "possessed a loaded .22 automatic pistol" on Jan. 8, 2003, after purchasing it, along with a box of bullets and a silencer, from an undercover cop. Karpf had asked a male patient to help him get a gun to kill several people. He was caught on tape saying he wanted to shoot them at point-blank range, put their bodies on his boat and feed the chopped-up corpses to sharks.

The patient put his shrink in touch with the undercover officer. Court papers filed by the defense said police had confiscated a list from Karpf titled "Motives for Murder," as well as "White Shark Research Papers." Belfi said he'll sentence Karpf on Sept. 14 to the three months he had served in jail before posting his $1 million bail. The judge warned the former doctor that if he got into trouble or stopped receiving psychiatric care, he would be slapped with a seven-year jail sentence. Karpf declined to comment. The defendant was examined by psychiatrists for the defense and prosecution.

"Mr. Karpf has some significant [psychiatric] issues — both psychiatrists came to that conclusion," prosecutor Robert Biancavilla said after the court proceeding. Biancavilla said it could not be proven that Karpf had targeted specific people, and the former shrink may have even made the "victims" up.

A former female patient, who believed she was targeted because she threatened to reveal an alleged affair between them, filed a civil malpractice lawsuit against Karpf, which is still pending. The woman's lawyer yesterday said she was outraged Karpf got off lightly. "At least he won't be practicing medicine," said lawyer Ruth Bernstein.

Bernstein said her client "has been extremely fearful from the time he got out of jail." Police had told her she was targeted by Karpf, said Bernstein.

Friday, July 02, 2004

Man Judged Insane Is Called for Jury Duty

A legally insane Houston man who gouged his girlfriend's eyes with a steak knife has received a jury summons and might be able to serve, but lawyers say it's doubtful he'll be picked for a panel. Nathan Dale Campbell was first summoned to report for Harris County jury service Monday, but the date was then rescheduled to Aug. 30, said a staffer in the district clerk's office.

Campbell, 30, was acquitted in 1997 after a jury found he was legally insane when he attacked girlfriend Kristen West the previous year, blinding her in one eye and permanently damaging her sight in the other. Campbell received treatment as an inpatient at the Kerrville State Hospital. The attack followed West's refusal of Campbell's marriage proposal. He said he thought her eyes were demons.

State District Judge Debbie Mantooth Stricklin in June 2003 ordered Campbell released from the state hospital in Kerrville after doctors said he was ready to live in the community under supervision. Campbell was treated as an outpatient in San Antonio for a time after his release, but court personnel have not revealed his whereabouts since then, citing federal privacy law.

What is wrong with this picture?

Thursday, July 01, 2004

The Truth About the Drug Companies

As seen in the NY Review of Books, Volume 51, Number 12 · July 15, 2004

In the past two years, we have started to see, for the first time, the beginnings of public resistance to rapacious pricing and other dubious practices of the pharmaceutical industry. It is mainly because of this resistance that drug companies are now blanketing us with public relations messages. And the magic words, repeated over and over like an incantation, are research, innovation, and American. Research. Innovation. American. It makes a great story.

But while the rhetoric is stirring, it has very little to do with reality. First, research and development (R&D) is a relatively small part of the budgets of the big drug companies—dwarfed by their vast expenditures on marketing and administration, and smaller even than profits. In fact, year after year, for over two decades, this industry has been far and away the most profitable in the United States. (In 2003, for the first time, the industry lost its first-place position, coming in third, behind "mining, crude oil production," and "commercial banks.") The prices drug companies charge have little relationship to the costs of making the drugs and could be cut dramatically without coming anywhere close to threatening R&D.

Second, the pharmaceutical industry is not especially innovative. As hard as it is to believe, only a handful of truly important drugs have been brought to market in recent years, and they were mostly based on taxpayer-funded research at academic institutions, small biotechnology companies, or the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The great majority of "new" drugs are not new at all but merely variations of older drugs already on the market. These are called "me-too" drugs. The idea is to grab a share of an established, lucrative market by producing something very similar to a top-selling drug. For instance, we now have six statins (Mevacor, Lipitor, Zocor, Pravachol, Lescol, and the newest, Crestor) on the market to lower cholesterol, all variants of the first. As Dr. Sharon Levine, associate executive director of the Kaiser Permanente Medical Group, put it,

    If I'm a manufacturer and I can change one molecule and get another twenty years of patent rights, and convince physicians to prescribe and consumers to demand the next form of Prilosec, or weekly Prozac instead of daily Prozac, just as my patent expires, then why would I be spending money on a lot less certain endeavor, which is looking for brand-new drugs?[4]

Third, the industry is hardly a model of American free enterprise. To be sure, it is free to decide which drugs to develop (me-too drugs instead of innovative ones, for instance), and it is free to price them as high as the traffic will bear, but it is utterly dependent on government-granted monopolies—in the form of patents and Food and Drug Administration (FDA)–approved exclusive marketing rights. If it is not particularly innovative in discovering new drugs, it is highly innovative— and aggressive—in dreaming up ways to extend its monopoly rights.