Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Patient killed in hospital psychiatric ward

No information is available as to what medications the man was on. Seen in this report.

A 34-year-old psychiatric patient who was set to be released from hospital has been charged with killing his 57-year-old roommate.

The two men were staying in the same room in a low-risk psychiatric ward at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton.

Each appeared to be asleep when nurses checked their room early Monday morning, said Nancy Fraser, senior operating officer for Capital Health's regional mental health program.

Staff in the ward heard a commotion just minutes later, and came in to find the men injured.

The two men had no history of violence toward staff or other patients, Fraser said.

Both patients were taken to the emergency room for treatment, where Dwayne Roger Roy, 57, was pronounced dead.

Police wouldn't comment on the weapon used in the attack.

"We clearly had a tragedy in one of rooms this morning," said Dr. P.J. White, head of psychiatric care with Capital Health.

"This is clearly not a situation we're used to dealing with."

This is the first homicide at the Royal Alexandra.

The 34-year-old man, whose name hasn't been released, was treated and released into police custody, Fraser said.

He now faces criminal charges, police spokeswoman Karen Carlson said.

Two registered nurses and two licensed practical nurses were on duty when the altercation took place.

Roy was a certified patient who was required to be in care.

The 34-year-old man had admitted himself to hospital voluntarily. Staff expected him to be released this week, Fraser said.

Patients in the hospital ward are visited each weekday by a psychiatrist, Fraser said. An emergency psychiatrist is available on weekends, but she couldn't say if either man was visited by one last weekend. All assessments indicated both men were stable.

"One cannot absolutely, totally predict that something's going to happen. It would be a miracle if we could," White said.

"The indicators suggest (the man in custody) was relatively stable."

Higher-security care beds are available for psychiatric patients. Both patients were deemed to be low-security risks, White said.

Following Roy's death, the United Nurses of Alberta issued a release outlining their ongoing concerns with security in the province's psychiatric wards. The nurses are asking that a special constable be placed in each ward.

"This tragic death could possibly have been prevented if some of the concerns of the nurses working on the psych units had been listened to," union vice-president Bev Dick said in the release.

Tom Shand, executive director of the Canadian Mental Health Association, said security at the Alexandra is satisfactory.

"I think it's a credit to the level of security that they don't have more incidents like this, period," Shand said.

"It's a volatile environment, and I think they handle security pretty well."

In addition to the police investigation, both a provincial fatality inquiry and a Capital Health investigation, led by White, will look into the man's death.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Ritalin Use in U.K. Concerns Conservative Party Leader Cameron

A small Conservative step in the right direction. Via Bloomberg

Britain should consider tighter rules for prescribing Ritalin and study side effects of that drug and others used to manage attention deficit disorder, the opposition Conservative Party said.

About 2.5 billion 10 milligram pills of Ritalin were prescribed in the U.K. last year, up from 19.2 million in 2001, according to Department of Health statistics.

``There is concern that the prescription of it has gone up so fast,'' Conservative Party leader David Cameron said on GMTV. ``We're asking for a review because we just want to find out more about the possible side effects, the possible damages and also to ask'' whether other things can be done to help children with attention problems.

Earlier this year in the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration told the makers of such medicines to produce brochures warning patients about risks of psychiatric harm and heart damage. The recommendation followed a debate among doctors, parents of children who use the drugs and FDA advisers about treatments for attention disorders.

Cameron emphasized that he wasn't asking for the drug to be withdrawn. Basel, Switzerland-based Novartis AG makes Ritalin, which competes with products such as Adderall by Shire Plc of Basingstoke, England, and Desoxyn by Ovation Pharmaceuticals Inc., which is based in Lincolnshire, Illinois.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Drugging prisoners ought to be a crime

A letter to the Editor in the Rutland Herald in Vermont

do not understand the lack of media or legislative outrage over the absurd level of psychotropic drugging of our prison population in Vermont. As reported in the July 1 Sunday Rutland Herald and Times Argus, nearly half of Vermont prisoners have been put on some form of psychiatric drug. Many of these prisoners have been put on powerful psychotropics with potentially serious, lifetime debilitating side effects. Why is this different from the reported mistreatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay?

Per the psychiatrist quoted in the article, many are simply being drugged as a means of control. No other state in the country comes remotely close to Vermont's level of psychiatric drugging of prisoners.

When this is combined with the fact that Vermont is ranked No. 2 for per capita drugging of schoolchildren (Ritalin, etc.) we have a real pattern of psychiatric abuse, which is going unquestioned and unchecked. One can only assume that the psychiatric and pharmaceutical industries are both profiting nicely.

It is both ironic and scary that we live in such an idyllic place, yet our population is being forcibly drugged at a level untouched by any other state in America. (Not that schoolchildren or prisoners have the legal ability to refuse the drugs.)

We are one of the few remaining states which have not passed legislation restricting the overuse and abuse of Ritalin and other psychotropic drugs on children. (And now add prisoners.) Both the psychiatric and pharmaceutical lobbies are active and strong in Vermont. Bills have been introduced in the Vermont Statehouse in recent years by a small number of both Democratic and Republican legislators to address this, but they have been killed in committee. It is time for our legislators to confront these abuses and bring them to an end.

Mark Elstner


Drug switch plunges boy into hell

Many of us know about the unwelcome side effects of drugs like Ritalin. So you would think that a replacement would "be safer', among other things. As seen in this report, no such luck:

When Wade Somani was put on a new drug to calm his hyperactivity and aggression, he suffered hallucinations and completely lost control.

After two years on Ritalin, he was put on Rubifen in April under Government subsidy changes to save $1 million a year.

"He had terrible hallucinations. He had shaking spasms in his legs. He was throwing himself around the room, screaming and howling that he was in agony," his mother, Jude Betham of Pukekohe, recalled yesterday. "We were very frightened because we've never seen him like that before."

Wade, aged nearly 12, has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Asperger's syndrome. [...]

When he switched to the Pharmac-funded Rubifen SR (sustained release) after the state subsidy of Ritalin SR ended, he reverted to being instantly aggressive and unpleasant leg spasms and pain, nightmares and early waking surfaced.

But last month Mrs Betham read a Herald article about 8-year-old ADHD and Asperger's patient Grant Celliers being stood down from school after his behaviour spiralled out of control on Rubifen - before calming down when he went back on Ritalin.

She decided to follow suit, although Ritalin now costs $48 a month.

"I nearly died of fright, for the story with Grant is so similar to Wade's. Wade ... literally begged me to let him stop taking Rubifen.

"As a mother I am extremely angry and so sick to my stomach to think I have put my beautiful child through this agony, all because I was told Rubifen was exactly the same as Ritalin, and I took that as gospel."

Grant's mother, Di Celliers, is campaigning for Pharmac to reinstate the Ritalin subsidy and said she had heard after the article from other families with similar experiences. She is urging families and doctors to report Rubifen problems to bolster the case.

Pharmac and the Health Ministry, however, are standing by Rubifen, saying it has the same active ingredient - methylphenidate.

The Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring, at Otago University, has had about 45 reports of adverse reactions to Rubifen SR since February.

Dr Stewart Jessamine of the ministry's Medsafe unit said a similar pattern emerged after Pharmac switched funding from immediate-release Ritalin to Rubifen several years ago.

Eventually this settled "as we got dose adjustments occurring".

Asked if he expected a similar path with sustained-release Rubifen, he said, "We will keep an open mind".

Pharmac said it would look at a funding change if Medsafe raised concerns about Rubifen.
See also this report

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Profiting from Illness and Death

An Editorial Opinion by Lucas Catton

The trail of psychiatric drugs is littered with dollar signs.

The truth regarding the connection between pharmaceutical companies and doctors, especially psychiatrists, seems to be coming out with increasing frequency of late. Millions of otherwise unsuspecting people are slowly beginning to learn that the drugs they’ve been prescribed are the result of a multi-billion dollar advertising and marketing campaign, not necessarily because they will help them.

Giant drug makers spend billions of dollars each year promoting their products to consumers, yes, but also to doctors to give to you. It has gotten to the point that even the educational system has been heavily infiltrated by this greased line.

In a recent story printed in the Washington Post, Harvard Medical School Professor Jerry Avorn was quoted as saying, "Most of what doctors know about drugs comes from the industry, and that's not healthy. Academic organizations lend their names to courses that are nothing more than infomercials."

“It is very frustrating to hear from parents how their doctors told them it was okay to put their kids on these drugs,” comments Lucas A Catton, CCDC, director of the international Drug-Free Alliance. “When they fully understand the connection between the drug makers and the doctors they feel extremely betrayed – and they should!”

The money isn’t just in the form of course and event sponsorships, it also comes in checks written to doctors for conducting clinical studies and for speaking about the supposed benefits of certain drugs.

An article in the New York Times claims that psychiatrists earn more money from drug makers than doctors in any other specialty. The effect is that there is a correlation between the amount of money given to them and the amount of drugs prescribed, especially the highly potent anti-psychotics, which have been discovered to contribute to the onset of diabetes.

The state of Vermont released information recently that drug company payments to psychiatrists in the state more than doubled last year to an average of more than $45,000 each, which was up from about $20,000 in 2005. The Times article said that anti-psychotic drugs are among the largest expenses for the state's Medicaid program.

In a commentary posted online Dr. Loren R. Mosher wrote, “In my view American psychiatry has become drug dependent (that is, devoted to pill pushing) at all levels - private practitioners, public system psychiatrists, university faculty and organizationally. What should be the most humanistic medical specialty has become mechanistic, reductionistic, tunnel-visioned and dehumanizing. Modern psychiatry has forgotten the Hippocratic principle: Above all, do no harm.”

Just one glaring example of this blatant disregard for public health, the New York Times also reported on the story of a psychiatrist in Minnesota whose license was suspended as a result of a disciplinary action regarding gross misconduct and the death of one or more patients under his care.

This doctor was very involved in drug company clinical trials, where he would get paid money to recruit patients for new medications. He boasted that he helped study some of the most widely prescribed psychiatric drugs over the years, including Paxil, Prozac, Risperdal, Seroquel, Zoloft and Zyprexa.

Despite his disciplinary actions regarding his gross misconduct and neglect, this doctor has remained a paid spokesperson for several drug companies that make psychiatric drugs.

The Alliance for Human Research Protection sates that “a cadre of child psychiatrists at the nation's most prestigious medical centers, have made their career by working hand in glove with drug manufacturers on whose behalf they test the most toxic drugs in young children and lend their reputations to promote the use of these drugs--and drug combinations for young children--seemingly without regard for children's safety or welfare.”

The Times’ examination of Minnesota’s records of payments form drug companies to doctors found that between 1997 and 2005, more than 100 of these doctors had been disciplined or criticized by the state medical board, yet they received about $1.7 million during that time. Of the problems found, nearly 40% of these doctors were penalized for inappropriate prescribing practices and 20% for substance abuse.

“But what about the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)?” one might ask. “Aren’t they supposed to regulate these drugs and their makers to ensure they are safe?” That is what they claim to do, but it is far from their actual business.

Mike Adams of Newstarget.com says, “Under the false pretense of improved food and drug safety the FDA is re-inventing itself as a kingpin drug company. This charade has so far hoodwinked virtually all members of Congress.”

So what can you do about it? Do your research, get second opinions from other forms of healthcare specialists and ask yourself if taking harmful drugs is the way you want to go or what you want to inflict upon your child. You can also contact the Drug-Free Alliance and we’ll help connect you with educational resources so that you can make an informed decision based on all the information there is available. Visit http://www.drug-freealliance.org today.

Therapist's suicide could trigger challenges in legal cases

From the Seattle Times

The arrest and suicide of a prominent Seattle psychologist who was often an expert witness in sexual-abuse and child-custody cases could raise questions about his recommendations, and some could be challenged, judges say.

Renton police on Wednesday found Stuart Greenberg's body after employees at the Clarion hotel entered his room and found a note on the floor that read, "medical personnel, do not resuscitate. Let me die," according to a Renton police report.

Officers later found Greenberg in a bathtub. He had cuts on both wrists, and police found a variety of medications in the bathroom. The case is being investigated as an overdose.

Greenberg, 59, was well-known as an expert witness in sexual-abuse cases. He had worked as a consultant to the Archdiocese of Seattle, which was defending itself in priest-abuse cases. He also had served as an expert witness on behalf of sex-abuse victims in other cases.

Greenberg also was frequently appointed as a parenting evaluator in child-custody cases.

Greenberg was arrested then suspended from practice earlier this month after allegations surfaced that he had secretly videotaped a woman in his office bathroom.

He was booked into the King County Jail on July 3 after an acquaintance found the videotape in the psychologist's VCR and alerted the person who appeared on the tape, police said. The tape was then handed over to police.

While in jail, Greenberg had been placed on suicide watch, according to the Renton police report. He was conditionally released two days after his arrest.

Dan Donohoe, spokesman for the King County Prosecutor's Office, said a decision on whether to file charges against Greenberg had not been made. But the state Board of Psychology suspended his license after the voyeurism allegation.

Greenberg, as a parenting evaluator in child-custody cases, carried tremendous power. A parenting evaluator's job is to interview all the parties involved and make custody recommendations; typically, the recommendations are followed.

Greenberg had developed a national reputation, as well. His curriculum vitae, listing all his professional accomplishments, runs 19 pages.

Among other things, he served as president of the American Board of Forensic Psychology in 2002-2003 and taught dozens of continuing-education courses across the country for fellow psychologists.

He also trained a crop of would-be psychologists as a clinical assistant professor at the University of Washington, and before that at the University of Southern California and the University of Iowa.

King County Presiding Judge Michael Trickey said the courts — and families going through custody battles — will have to contend with a number of difficult issues in the wake of Greenberg's arrest and subsequent death. He anticipates a flurry of challenges by parties who were unhappy with past evaluations involving Greenberg.

Greenberg's arrest alone wouldn't be enough to reopen a case. But if his recommendations hinged on a parent's alleged sexual deviancy, for example, that parent could argue that Greenberg's opinion was tainted by his alleged actions.

"Never having dealt with this before, I'm not sure how this would play out," Trickey said, adding, "I assume we're going to deal with it sooner rather than later."

The court doesn't keep count of cases assigned to a particular parenting evaluator, so it's impossible to tell how many families could be affected. But it's a given that all of Greenberg's pending cases will have to be reassigned to other evaluators — a process that was already under way since his arrest and suspension of his license to practice psychology.

Judge James Doerty, the chief family-court judge, said a key question in reopening old cases is whether the child-custody plan has been working for the child.

"The problem about going backwards and redoing those decisions is you are actually changing the lives the children have led," Doerty said.


Greenberg left suicide notes to his wife, daughter and "everyone else I hurt," the police report said. His wife said he apologized for his actions in the notes, the report states.

The King County Medical Examiner's Office said an autopsy was done Thursday but a cause of death won't be released until toxicology tests are completed.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Psychiatrists Will Attempt to Change Light Bulb

As seen in the Spoof, a satire site

Belleview, New York (IP) - Psychiatrists at this famous psychiatric hospital will attempt to change a light bulb.

This promises to be a difficult undertaking in that all all of the light bulbs they have tried to change just sit there and say nothing.

The light bulb which is today's subject is named Lucindus Watt. The patient just sits there quietly with a dim but warm incandescent glow about him and says nothing when questioned by the psychiatrists.

The colleagues of the doctors doing the questioning sit safely behind a sound proof one way mirror observing and taking notes. Some of them express their growing impatience and voice their suspicions that the dim wit at the center of all of the attention will probably maintain his silence like all of the others that came before him.

One doctor reminds the others that he knows of some light bulbs in Thomas Edison's museum on Florida's west coast who have been glowing for over one-hundred years and have never uttered so much as a peep.....

Epilogue: After spending fifty-million dollars and years of research the project finally came to what was to the psychiatrist a happy ending. A janitor had walked into the room behind the mirror and matter-of-factly told the doctors there that that you can change a light bulb but only when he really wants to change.

The doctors will now begin a new project wherein they will attempt to ascertain why Prince Albert insists on always staying in a can and why refrigerators are always running.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Anecdotes from the HealthCare for Profit wars.

As seen in this column, part of a larger editorial on the problems of the healthcare system in general

I am a registered nurse. Although I have spent most of my 25-year career caring for people, I made one enormous mistake. For a brief time, I chose to work for a medical insurance company. They gave me the title, "utilization review nurse," which really meant I had control over whether people were allowed procedures, stayed in the hospital or discharged early.

Because of my discomfort with a system that left me in charge of telling a doctor by phone, some 3,000 miles away with his patient, how to practice medicine, I was far more permissive with certifications than the company liked. My phone calls were soon tapped. I was denied bonuses and raises. Harangued and threatened, I was finally booted from the insurance industry.

Meanwhile, nurses who did what they were told, who denied medical stays and who likely did harm and cost lives, were rewarded.


The film "Sicko" reflects my experience, as Michael Moore reveals case after case of those who thought they were insured, only to find they were not. Many are excluded, denied or dropped for the flimsiest of reasons. Moore depicts something I have known for years, that there are countless ways medical insurance companies deny healthcare.


There is one hospital experience I will never forget. On a psychiatric unit, my patient suffered the dual diagnoses of depression and alcoholism. On the second of what is usually a three-day stay, he had plus-three tremens and was suicidal. The psychiatrist came into the station and said he would be discharging him. I told the doctor the patient's condition warranted another day because the man stated he had a gun at home and would kill himself. The doctor chuckled and wrote the orders for discharge anyway, saying flippantly, "I get $1,000 for every day I save the company money, and besides, it's the weekend."

I entered a nursing note of the patient's condition and the suicide threat. The doctor was infuriated. My supervisor supported him, until she picked up the phone the next day and heard by voicemail that the patient had died from a gunshot wound en route to a hospital.

Hundreds Dead from Side Effects of AntiPsychotics

From the Daily Telegraph in Australia

Hundreds of Australians have died and thousands more suffered gruesome side effects after taking anti-psychotic medications, official figures have revealed.

Data from the nation's drug watchdog the Therapeutic Goods Administration shows 9532 adverse reports involving anti-psychotics in the past 15 years, including 399 deaths.

Of those adverse reports 390 involved children and teenagers, with some of the official papers reporting side effects like face twisting and massive weight gain, while others showed life-threatening reactions such as heart problems.

A TGA spokeswoman yesterday confirmed the data.

Anti-psychotics are medications generally used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorders. Up to 1 per cent of the Australian population experience schizophrenia at some stage in their lives and about 4 per cent experience bipolar.

The figures come as an Australian law firm takes on drugs giant Eli Lilly in a class action from a group of Australians who claim they suffered side effects after taking the anti-psychotic drug Zyprexa.

Queensland firm Nicol Robinson Halletts is representing patients from across Australia who claim symptoms such as weight gain, diabetes and pancreatitis.

"We are now in the double figures with clients from Zyprexa and we are seeing a number of alleged problems," lawyer Simon Harrison told The Daily Telegraph.

"The problems vary from inadequate policing of the medication to the alleged side effects of the medication not being conveyed," he said.

The TGA data covers a number of anti-psychotics including Zyprexa and catalogues thousands of serious side effects including a boy, 15, whose weight ballooned from 60kg to 100kg in 2002.

Another adverse anti-psychotic drug report described a 15-year-old girl who suffered "facial twisting, grimacing and frowning" in 2000 and in 2005 a 15 year old male was vomiting so severely he was hospitalised.

The deaths include a woman, 39, in 2000 who died a "sudden death" after weight gain and a 22-year-old male who had a cardiac arrest in 2003 due to anti-psychotics.

University of NSW Head of psychiatry Professor Philip Mitchell said anti-psychotics were widely used in teenagers as symptoms of bi-polar often present in the teenage years.

He was not alarmed by the data and said a number of new anti-psychotic drugs had emerged in the past 10 to 15 years which probably accounted for the reported adverse reactions.

A spokeswoman for Eli Lilly said they were aware of the initial case but did not have any details of the class action.

With a Tip of the Hat to Furious Seasons

Australia has a population of over 20 Million.

The USA has a population of over 300 million.

This means that similar numbers in the USA would calculate out to 6,000 deaths due to side effects of anti-psychotics.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Criminals can use Psychiatry as a weapon

From the periodical Russia Today - a look at how psychiatry can get out of control.

Mentally ill or mentally healthy - it's up to a psychiatrist to determine, and a patient's life often depends on this decision. Almost half of all mental health patients in Russia are being mis-diagnosed, according to a human rights organisation.

Inna and her fourteen-year-old daughter Nastia say they were victims of a false diagnosis.

Inna couldn't sleep for several days because of stress she had experienced after a car accident. She says she took some medicine to help her fall asleep, and during the night her daughter drank the water with the medicine - by accident. The mother and daughter both got poisoned, and called an ambulance. Both woke up in psychiatric hospitals – Inna charged with attempted murder.

On the basis of a psychiatric examination, a court has now decided Inna needs to be put into a psychiatric clinic. The two are currently in hiding.

Valery has a different story. He is a 53-year-old engineer, and he has spent the last years of his life fighting for his apartment. He says criminals wanted it, so they decided to get rid of him by locking him up in a psychiatric ward. They found a psychiatrist who would help out by saying Valery was ill and needed to be put into a hospital. Additional testing later proved that Valery was quite healthy.

He is now trying to prove he was a crime victim. He wants those responsible punished. And his life's goal has become warning innocent citizens about these kinds of crimes.

The Civil Commission on Human Rights operating in Russia says, according to research, almost half of the patients who are told they have a psychiatric illness actually have a regular physical sickness, and don't need psychiatric help.

Mikhail Vinogradov - a prominent Russian criminologist and psychiatrist - says the reason for abuse in psychiatry is that doctors are human too: "Among them, there are very good doctors and there are bad doctors. But there are definitely less bad ones. And naturally, there are criminals among them, like in every social sphere - among priests, policemen, bureaucrats. They are all human," he says.

The expert says what happened to Inna was an attempt of suicide and murder.

"To simply fall asleep, you would take one or two of the pills that she took. The only reason you would take more, is to kill yourself. The doctors did the right thing by taking both Inna and her daughter to a clinic. The mother in this case was trying to kill herself and to take her daughter with her. This is an absolutely obvious case in psychiatric study. The only question is - was she acting under affect or is she psychologically ill?" doctor Vinogradov asks.

And he says getting someone's property by putting them in a psychiatric clinic nowadays happens very often.

"Valery's case is very typical. These stories take place often, when people want to get someone else's living space, there are sometimes fraudulent psychiatrists assisting in the crime," he says.

According to the psychiatrist's statistics, about 67% of Russia's population is either undergoing or needs some form of psychiatric treatment. Among these, 19% are chronically ill. Doctor Vinogradov says the statistics are similar in Europe.[...]

Psychotic Psychiatrist remains licensed to Practice in Florida - Attacked Mother on the streets of NYC

From the New York Post See also this ABC News Report. The entire attack was caught on tape

Last summer, a bipolar Florida psychiatrist with a history of alcohol abuse and violence went off his meds, got in his car and drove to New York City to better hide, among the crowds, from the evil "forces" pursuing him.

He peeled off the trans-dermal patch that dispensed medication directly into his skin, and threw it out his car window as he drove.

Once in the city, he parked on the West Side - leaving his wallet in his car - and walked to the New York Waterway terminal at 39th Street and 12th Avenue.

There, unprovoked on a sunny July afternoon, he admittedly grabbed a 2-year-old boy named Thorin who lived nearby and happened to be playing with his plastic bicycle.

Then, when Thorin's terrified mother tried to stop him, he threw her to the concrete and choked her into unconsciousness, stopping only when two bystanders hoisted him off her.

"I begged, I begged, I begged," the hero mom, Jil Novenski, testified in tears yesterday - recounting her horror to a Manhattan judge in hopes that the psychotic stranger may be locked up forever.

"I screamed, 'Oh, God! Please, no!' I thought for sure he was going to kill me in front of my son. I wanted to make sure that if I was going to die, he wasn't going to get [Thorin.]

"He squeezed harder and harder," Novenski remembered of the stranger's hands around her throat. "Then, everything went black."

Amazingly, the psychotic shrink - child psychiatrist Dr. William Johns III - remains licensed to practice medicine in Florida, West Virginia and Hawaii, according to online records.

This, despite his having been in jail for the full year since admittedly attacking the woman and her son.

Johns quickly told cops he was Jesus Christ, trying to save the boy from some vague "danger."

"I tightened my grip on her when the two guys came over because I thought they might try to pull me off of her," he admitted, according to court documents.

Johns, who has a history of severe alcohol dependence, drunken driving, violence and stopping his medications, is now fighting to be freed so he can attend an outpatient psychiatric program near his hometown, Vero Beach.

He pleaded not guilty by reason of mental illness in April. Yesterday's hearing, which continues today, will determine if his next move is out the door or - as prosecutors and Novenski hope - into a locked psych facility.

"Otherwise, what are we waiting for?" Novenski, 39, told The Post yesterday. "He's going to kill somebody

Local psychiatrist arrested in prescription fraud case

From the North County Times

A Murrieta psychiatrist was arrested Tuesday morning, suspected of illegally writing prescriptions for drugs such as Vicodin, Xanax and Oxycontin in exchange for cash.

Dr. Joel Stanley Dreyer, 69, was arrested at his large, two-story home on Pinnacle Court in Bear Creek Heights that sits high on a hill above the gated community.

Dreyer was led from his home in handcuffs just before 9 a.m. and driven away in a patrol car. A short time later, investigators could be seen going through items in the garage, including a yellow Chevrolet Corvette with the personalized license plate FREUD MD.

According to police, Dreyer would typically charge $100 for each prescription, issuing them without conducting a physical examination as required by law.

Murrieta police Lt. Dennis Vrooman said what Dreyer is accused of is tantamount to the actions of a common street-level drug pusher.

"Very simply, this is the same as a drug dealer," Vrooman said. Only instead of actually providing what Vrooman called Dreyer's customers with drugs, the doctor instead used his position to prescribe drugs to them illegally, the lieutenant said.

"Some of these drugs filter down to the teens and young people in our community," Vrooman said. "This can lead to addictions and destroy people's lives."

The investigation could lead to the arrests of at least 50 more people who either allegedly bought prescriptions from Dreyer or possibly even other medical professionals who may have knowingly collaborated with Dreyer, Vrooman said. He declined to be more specific.

Dreyer has been under investigation for some time by both the Medical Board of California and the state attorney general's office, Candis Cohen, spokeswoman for the Medical Board, said Tuesday.

Cohen said cases involving physicians selling prescriptions for cash "are not all that unusual," adding that anywhere from six to 12 come to the board's attention each year.

Vrooman said authorities believe Dreyer has been issuing illegal prescriptions "for as long as 10 years."

He estimated that the number of allegedly illegal prescriptions written by Dreyer "is probably at least in the hundreds, if not in the thousands."

At this point in the investigation, authorities believe most of the prescriptions were for painkillers, although Vrooman said they will be looking into what other drugs may have been involved.

A "special master" has been appointed by a judge to the case. He is there to make sure the legitimate doctor-client privilege between Dreyer and his patients is not violated as investigators sift through documents seized during searches of both his home and his office on Enterprise Circle North in Temecula.

The investigation into Dreyer's alleged unethical practices was sparked by the suspicions of employees at several area pharmacies, Vrooman said.

"They were seeing a lot of young, able-bodied people coming in with prescriptions for highly addictive medications" that were written by Dreyer, the lieutenant said.

Some of the pharmacies decided to no longer fill prescriptions issued by the doctor, Vrooman said.

Earlier this year, Murrieta police, Medical Board investigators and Drug Enforcement Administration agents joined forces to investigate the allegation against Dreyer.

Headed by Murrieta police Detective John Nelson, the investigation included several purchases by undercover officers of prescriptions written by Dreyer, police said.

Investigators found that Dreyer would meet his customers in parking lots, restaurants and a local gym where he would reportedly exchange prescriptions for cash without examining the people, Vrooman said.

Police believe most of those who bought the illegal prescriptions personally used them, while some may have turned around and sold the documents to others.

Dreyer was arrested on suspicion of issuing fraudulent prescriptions for controlled substances and was taken to the Murrieta Police Station for questioning, Vrooman said. Dreyer was then booked at Southwest Detention Center in French Valley, where he is being held without the possibility of bail, authorities said.

According to Medical Board records, Dreyer has been a licensed physician in California since May 1969.

Cohen, the Medical Board spokeswoman, said that if the evidence in a case against a licensed physician justifies it, the state's attorney general's office, acting on behalf of the board, can file what is called an accusation.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Pesticides And Schools: A 'Tragic' Health Hazard with links to ADHD and other diseases

From a news release issued by Indiana University.

Pesticides in schools are a pervasive, unnecessary health hazard, said Marc Lame, an entomologist and professor in Indiana University's School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

"Over 80 percent of schools in America are applying pesticides on a regular basis, whether they have a pest problem or not," he said. "This is tragic not only because of the well-documented link between pesticides and health problems in children, such as asthma and neurological disorders, but also because pesticides generally do not work in a preventive manner in the school environment. Applying pesticides does not prevent pests from coming in, so using them when pests are not present does nothing other than expose children and staff to toxic chemicals."

The most widely used insecticides are nerve poisons, which cause nerves to fire in an uncontrolled manner and disrupt endocrine (hormone) systems, Lame said. Prolonged exposure to these chemicals can result in similar effects on the human nervous system, with symptoms ranging from vomiting to severe breathing problems.

Although research is limited, these endocrine disrupting pesticides are suspected in problems ranging from ADHD to autism to infertility, Lame said. Exposure during childhood carries the greatest risk. "The thing to remember is that it is not just a question of children being smaller than adults and getting more exposure pound-for-pound. The even more serious issue is that their nervous systems are still developing, so they are especially susceptible to nerve poisons," he said.

Lame said pest problems are better managed with an integrated approach that involves recognition and remediation of conditions that attract pests or allow pests to enter facilities. "It's common sense pro-action rather than toxic reaction," he said. Lame serves as a consultant for schools and environmental health agencies around the country, helping them implement such programs through a process known as Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

Trial date set for psychiatrist accused of killing daughter

As seen in this report from the Irish Independent

The trial of a psychiatrist charged with the murder of her teenage daughter will begin in February of next year.

Lynn Gibbs (46), from Killure, Gowran, Co Kilkenny, is due to appear at the Central Criminal Court from February 11.

She is charged with the murder of her daughter, Ciara Gibbs, at the family home some time between 11pm on November 25 and 10am on November 26, 2006.

Dr Gibbs was found in a collapsed state in the house by her husband Gerard and young son Gearoid on their return home on the morning of Sunday, November 26, after an overnight trip to Co Tipperary.

Ciara's body was found in the bath in the house, and a post-mortem later revealed she had died from drowning. Dr Gibbs, who is a locum psychiatrist with Carlow-Kilkenny mental-health services, has undergone psychiatric treatment since Ciara's death. She is currently a patient at the Central Mental Hospital, Dundrum, Dublin.

Hundreds attended the 16-year-old's funeral. Ciara was a popular fourth-year transition student at Loreto secondary school in Kilkenny city.

Psychiatrist claims insane donor 'rational to give to Tories'

We do not take political positions as a matter of course. But this story is filled with political mayhem. Naturally, it concerns the testimony of a psychiatrist; this time in the context of an admittedly insane man who left his entire (and rather substantial) estate to a political party for rather interesting reasons. Naturally, the children are upset. From the Guardian:

A consultant psychiatrist yesterday argued that a "delusionary insane" Tory donor had been "rational and logical" to leave millions of pounds to the Conservatives to fight "satanic monsters" and "dark forces" around the world.

Robert Howard, an expert in disputed wills by mentally ill people, was giving evidence at the high court on behalf of the Conservative party in a battle between Zoran Kostic, son of a multimillionaire businessman who disinherited him, and the Tories over an estate worth £10m.

Both sides accept that Branislav Kostic, Zoran Kostic's father, had been "delusionary insane" since 1985 when he divorced, broke off relations with his son and sister and claimed there was an international conspiracy of more than 100 people masterminded by sexually perverted pharmaceutical company executives to destroy "freedom, democracy and human purity".

The Conservatives contend that his decision to leave them his entire estate in 1989 was rational and based on his love of Britain and admiration for Mrs Thatcher. The son contends that he was of "unsound mind" when he wrote the last will disinheriting the son from the family fortune.

Dr Howard argued that Mr Kostic's madness, unlike schizophrenia, did not " wax or wane" and after 1985 he would have had the capacity to write a will. Under cross-examination by Clare Montgomery QC, for Zoran Kostic, he accepted that one interpretation could be that his father's correspondence offering money to the Tories came from his delusions about "satanic monsters" rather than support for Tory values and philosophy.

The case continues.
And then there is the question: Are the Tories would be the correct people to make such a donation to in the first place? We won't discuss the accusation that many pharmaceutical executives are sexual perverts.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Psychiatrist Group Names DSM Task Force

With a Tip of the Hat to the PharmaLot Blog

In a move that is likely to be closely scrutinized, the American Psychiatric Association today named its new task force for overseeing development of its 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM-V. [...] The task force has 27 members, who rep scientists from psychiatry and other disciplines, clinical care providers, and consumer and family advocates.

This task force, which will revise the DSM over the next five years, holds a great deal of sway, since their actions influence prescribing habits in the US and elsewhere. But it’s more than that. The DSM is where a condition is officially sanctioned as a disorder, which of course, also determines treatment. For these reasons, the APA has come under fire - as have other doctors - for ties to industry.

Of the 27 task force members, the APA says eight had no relationship with industry and 19 disclosed relationships with industry during any of the 36 months leading up to their nomination.


The APA, by the way, has been embroiled in the controversy over antidepressants and Black Box warnings, which the FDA mandated in early 2005 after the drugs were linked to suicide in youngsters. Since then, the APA has repeatedly urged regulators to rethink their position over concerns that patients and doctors are being scared away from using meds. As a result, though, some patient advocates charge the APA is too quick to side with industry.

The press release with the announcement can be seen here

The detailed list of members of the taskforce with their disclosures can be seen here

We remain extremely skeptical.

One third of male psychiatrists will be disciplined for sexual misconduct sometime in their careers.

I have been playing with numbers, and I come up with something interesting that deserves to be a well publicized factoid.

To begin

1) I estimate that about 1% of the population of practicing psychiatrists are disciplined for sexual misconduct each year. This varies by country and state, and needs to be verified on this basis. The one data point I have on this is for Western Australia for one year where the population is rather small, and the enforcement is rather light. This matches up with other numbers I have seen elsewhere. It is a simple matter of how many psychiatrists, and how many disciplinary actions in a particular year. As I said, the numbers I have seen are consistent with about 1% per year, although, as we shall see, this is alarmingly high. Normal numbers should be less than 1/10th of 1% per annum.

2) The major question is what are the odds for an individual psychiatrist over the duration of a typical career of 30 years.

Interesting Question, no?

The odds are not just a straight 30%, based on 1% per year.

Take, for example, dice rolling.

If I roll a common six sided die six times, what are the combined odds for rolling a 1 for any one of those six times? The odds are NOT 100%

Odds For Rolling a 1 = 1/6

Odds For Rolling a 1 twice =1/6 x 1/6


Odds For Not Rolling a 1 = 5/6 = 83.33%

Odds For Nor Rolling a 1 twice = 5/6 x 5/6 = 69.44%

Odds For Nor Rolling a 1 three times = 5/6 x 5/6 x 5/6 = 57.87%


This for not rolling a 1 in any of those multiple sets of rolls, for that entire set.

A similar thing happens with the shrinks

We calculate the odds for not getting caught by multiplying the appropriate percentage for the appropriate number of years.

Then we flip it around to get the odds of getting caught.

Odds for shrinks not getting caught per year = 99.0 percent

for 5 years = 0.99 x 0.99 x 0.99 x 0.99 x 0.99 = 0.95099
= 5% chance of getting caught

for 10 years = 0.90438
= 10% chance of getting caught

for 20 years = 0.817907
= 18% chance of getting caught

for 30 years = 0.739700
= 24% chance of getting caught

for 40 years = 0.668971
= 33% chance of getting caught

So the conclusion is that for for an average 30 year career as a psychiatrist, any psychiatrist has about a one chance in four of getting caught and disciplined for sexual misconduct.

We can also mention that since the vast majority of psychiatric sexual offenders are men, that the odds for male psychiatrists getting caught over their career is about 50%. Abuse by female psychiatrists is not impossible, but it is quite rare.

Thus we get to the factoid that one half of male psychiatrists will be disciplined for sexual misconduct sometime in their careers.

But since the numbers are shaky we'll say it's one third. Let's be generous, shall we?

This will vary by the actual rate of disciplinary actions in each state and region, but you get the general idea. If the rate we start with is "2% of psychiatrist are disciplined yearly", then the 30 year rate is 45% for all psychiatrists, possibly 75 to 85% for all male psychiatrists. The numbers are quite sensitive to the number of shrinks actually caught. (naturally) The numbers actually doing bad things, who are not caught, would naturally be higher.

So we need to get actual numbers for major areas of the USA, Britain, and elsewhere, to firm this up. But these are the methods I used.

Normal numbers and rates should be less than 1/10th of 1%, yielding a 1% to 5% rate of criminal behavior over the length of an average career.

A Psychiatrist Airs His Professional Doubts

Highlights from this essay

Did you ever stop to wonder or ask yourself 'what am I doing?' I did and in many ways I wish I had not. As a Psychiatrist, I still do not know what our profession is trying to do. It seems we have a series of solutions and now we are trying to find the problems that they can solve. My observations are either anecdotal or part of research that I have done as a Psychiatric Auditor and are based on my 38 years experience in the field of Psychiatry.


It has been shown that after 10 years of illness a psychotic not taking medications is four times more likely to be symptom free than one that is taking medications. Read that again. You would expect the complete opposite. In spite of the hype, the quality of life in patients using the older medications are better than the new. So we are paying more, endangering more and getting less. Not very impressive is it?


For some reason these emotional disturbances are treated as if they are mild forms of mental illness. They are not. Very often we are seeing stress caused by poor coping styles or skills. They are treated as if they have, or about to have depression, anxiety, or panic. The vast majority are offered medication. They should be offered alternative drug-free modalities such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy or Psychotherapy.

Of those referred to psychotherapy much less than half will get past three visits. The major explanation of 'file closure' in these cases is drop-out. 'Completion of therapy' ranks as one of the least given reasons.
And we have to wonder about the effectiveness of some of the alternatives and solutions he does discuss.

Another Psychiatrist Joke

“Great news, Mr. Oscarson,” the psychiatrist reported. “After eighteen months of therapy, I can pronounce you finally and completely cured of your kleptomania. You’ll never be trapped by the desire to steal again.”

“Gee, that’s great, Doc.” the patient replied.

“And just to prove it, I want you to stop by Sears on the way home and walk the length of the store. You’ll see - you’ll feel no temptation to shoplift whatsoever.”

“Oh, Doctor, whatever can I do to thank you?”

“Well,” suggested the psychiatrist, “if you DO have a relapse, I could use a new microwave.”

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Ritalin Stunts Growth

Of course the original full news account includes snippets that say "but wait, the drug has benefits, too" - But we remain skeptical. As seen here.

After three years on the ADHD drug Ritalin, kids are about an inch shorter and 4.4 pounds lighter than their peers, a major U.S. study shows.[...]

"Yes, there is a growth-suppression effect with stimulant ADHD medications," Swanson tells WebMD. "It is going to occur at the age of treatment, and over three years it will accumulate."

Whether these kids eventually grow to normal size remains a question. Kids entered the study in 1999 at ages 7 to 9. The current report is a snapshot taken three years later. The 10-year results — when the kids are at their adult height — won't be in for two more years.

"The big question now is whether there is any effect on these kids' ultimate height," Swanson says. "We don't know if by the time they are 18 they will regain the height."

The finding appears to end decades of debate over whether stimulant medications affect children's growth. Less than 10 years ago, a National Institutes of Health panel concluded that the drugs carried no long-term growth risk.

That opinion was so widely accepted that the study authors — who include most of the leading ADHD researchers in the U.S. — did not warn parents that the study medication might carry this risk.

At the time, researchers thought that any short-term stunting of growth would be made up by a hypothesized "growth spurt" that would occur with continued treatment. But Swanson and colleagues saw no evidence of such a growth spurt.

Another widely accepted theory was that ADHD itself stunted kids' growth. But in a surprise finding, the study found that ADHD kids who do not take stimulant drugs are much larger than kids without ADHD, and these untreated kids continued to grow much faster than kids taking stimulant drugs.

Swanson says that children who had been taking ADHD drugs before the study began were smaller than kids who had not yet started treatment. Those who first began treatment at the start of the study were normal in size, but grew more slowly than normal kids as the study went on.

After three years, the growth suppression seemed to reach its maximum effect. That's also when the effect of the ADHD drug used in the study — immediate-release Ritalin, three times a day, every day of the year — seemed to wear off.

"We compared the effect of medication relative to just pure behavioral treatment," Swanson says. "That effect was substantial at 14 months and reduced a bit at 24 months. But at 36 months the relative advantage of ADHD drugs over behavioral treatment is gone."

Swanson and colleagues note that the study did not test the sustained-release stimulant medications that are now the standard treatment for ADHD.

Omar Khwaja, M.D., Ph.D., a neurologist at Children's Hospital in Boston, last year analyzed studies of different ADHD drugs and found strong evidence that ADHD drugs do, indeed, stunt children's growth. In fact, Khwaja and colleagues calculated a growth effect that almost exactly matches the effect seen in the Swanson study.

But Khwaja agrees with Swanson that nobody yet knows what the long-term results of this side effect will be.

"Whether there will be rebound growth at end of puberty, the jury is still out," Khwaja tells WebMD.[...]

Swanson and colleagues report their findings in the August issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.[...]
I find it interesting that "the study found that ADHD kids who do not take stimulant drugs are much larger than kids without ADHD, and these untreated kids continued to grow much faster than kids taking stimulant drugs." This would suggest that whatever they think they are treating is actually a side effect of something else, say growth hormones in milk or meat from cattle given growth hormones when they were growing. Or some other environmental factor, or pollution in the gene pool (from drug use, etc). Which they are treating with narcotics (ritalin, etc)

Mystery of the Universe Solved

No doubt the original researcher did not mean this as Humor, it certainly should be a candidate for an IgNoble Award. As seen hear.

No doubt you've heard of a speedometer, an odometer, a barometer and a thermometer. You might have heard of a pedometer (walking), a hygrometer (humidity) or an anemometer (wind speed).

But I'll bet you haven't heard of a Dag-ometer.

Well, neither had I until last week. "Dag" refers to Differential Affect Gap and, without mincing words, it is used to measure the schmaltz level of songs.

The Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported that Emery Schubert, a University of New South Wales music psychologist, had a gut feeling why some people found some songs repulsive and others found them uplifting. So he studied people's reactions to songs and developed a scale of 1-7 on the Dag-ometer, with seven being the greatest distance between the emotion of the music and the emotion of the listener.

His idea is that "if you can measure the emotion that a piece of music is trying to convey, and if you rate that by the particular listener, you can also measure the emotion that the listener is experiencing as a result of listening, and if you take the difference of those two, you get what's called the Differential Affect Gap."

So if, for example, if Paul Anka's "My Way" makes you slam your head into a wall and shout, "I hate this freakin' song!" then there is going to be a large gap between felt and expressed emotion.

Only a psychologist would come up with a system for something that the rest of mankind is content to dismiss with a simple "This song sucks."

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Another prison suicide: Why?

The blog for Oregon's Statesman's Journal has a draft of their Sunday editorial online. This covers the destructive effects of modern "SuperMax" prisons, especially since it appears that people have given up trying to rehabilitate inmates except by means of the most destructive of punishments. And the psychiatrists seem to be there for the most rudimentary of reasons: to make sure they survive long enough to suffer their full sentence. There is no hope of rehabilitation because they don't know how to accomplish this. As an earlier story (linked below) noted about the SuperMax Prisons: "If you didn't have psychiatric problems, it'll probably cause psychiatric problems. And if you do have psychiatric problems, it exacerbates them."

Yet another inmate has died from suicide in an Oregon prison.

That makes 26 in the past 10 years. Four this year alone.

How could this happen?

Just two weeks ago, a Statesman Journal series analyzed common denominators in these suicides. At least two of these factors were involved in Wednesday’s death at Snake River Correctional Institution in Ontario: hanging, and an inmate suffering from mental illness.

After reporter Alan Gustafson’s stories appeared on July 8-9, prison officials said that they took such risk factors seriously. State officials detailed a long list of steps being taken to identify suicidal inmates, to get them appropriate treatment and to prevent future suicide attempts.

Yet 21-year-old Nathan Bashaw was able to hang himself in his cell. He took his life during the half-hour between the times that staff members checked on him. He did so in what should have been one of the safest places at Snake River, the prison’s 22-bed psychiatric unit.

What is going on here?

Jana Russell, the administrator of Counseling and Treatment Services for the 13,500-inmate prison system, said Friday that this case shows that a determined inmate will succeed in killing himself despite anything prison staff can do.

“We did everything right and still had this outcome,” Russell said.

How can that be?

According to Russell, Bashaw recently had been in the Disciplinary Segregation Unit — solitary confinement. A case manager evaluated him for suicide risk, which he denied, but the manager moved him to the psychiatric unit anyway. A psychiatrist saw Bashaw two days before the inmate’s death but got no hint that the man planned to end his life.

The Oregon State Police are investigating the incident. But once again, the Department of Corrections must figure out where the system has failed, and fix it.

Officials say they are devastated each time a suicide occurs. Rank-and-file staff are devastated as well, they say. No one wants to stop this chain of events more than they do.

We want to believe them. But it’s hard to square that description with the appalling findings that came out after one bloody jail-cell suicide late last year. The subsequent investigation turned up instances of lax supervision by corrections officers, missed cell checks and falsified logs.

If that was a case of a few bad apples, the officers gave all their coworkers a black eye. If the problem is more widespread, then prison officials are fooling themselves about how far their commitment to prisoners’ safety has spread through the ranks.

Department of Corrections staff members, from secretaries to administrators, get a week of inservice training each year. For the past two years, Russell says, the focus has been on suicide awareness and prevention. That’s good.

But there’s clearly more to do. A commitment to prisoners’ safety must be part of prison culture, day in and day out.



See this editorial at StatesmanJournal.com for links to the July 8-9 series “Severe Seclusion, Deadly Outcome” and a July 15 editorial.



For links to the July 8-9 series “Severe Seclusion, Deadly Outcome” and a July 15 editorial, click:

Severe Seclusion, Deadly Outcome - Part 1

Severe Seclusion, Deadly Outcome - Part 2

July 15th Editorial

Friday, July 20, 2007

A Description of what it is like to have received ElectroConvulsive Therapy (ECT)

From an Extended letter sent to the Furious Seasons weblog

I had been in this locked ward for approx 20 days. My insurance, though I did not know it at the time, pooped out at 30.

And I hadn’t gotten better, I had gotten worse.

My doctor, who ran the hospital had unbeknownst to me called in my parents for a meeting, as well as the three doctors under him. All I knew was tonight I didn’t have my supper; instead one of the nurses helped me in the shower and bathed me because I was too catatonic to do so. She helped me get dressed and finally put on those slipper socks that all the inmates wear because our shoes had all been stripped of their laces.

She walked me out of the locked ward, stopping at the Christmas tree by the Nurses station in the main part, and let me touch an ornament. I smiled. We went into the doctor’s office and there was my mom, and dad sitting on a plushy bluish purple sofa, and three doctors I never saw before.

“Mr. and Mrs. S” went my doctor – “We’ve tried everything on your daughter but she is extremely depressed and still suicidal. We’ve tried several different drug therapies and nothing is working, and we are left with two things. She has ten days left on her insurance and if she is still like the way she is now, we will be forced to put her in a state hospital. Or we can try ECT”.


What was unusual was when they asked me who the President was; I thought it was Bill Clinton. But I got the other questions correct and maybe it’s a good thing to forget a few years of history.

But as the treatments went on, I noticed several things. I had a photographic memory prior. I could not recall huge events in my life. I would look at family pictures and know something happened but couldn’t recall it. Huge chunks of my adolescence and childhood went Poof! I also had the ability to recall in graphic detail every book I had ever read from “Green Eggs and Ham” to the last book I had been reading in the hospital which was of all weird things “ A Noonday Demon’. I had been a contestant on Jeopardy. Now I couldn’t even name the hosts name.

I couldn’t read anymore. I couldn’t even read a newspaper. I couldn’t watch TV. I forgot how to get to places I was driving to, even though I had been driving the same routes for years.

Now this may seem trivial. To some people, thinking the last president was Clinton could be a good thing. To some people forgetting horrible adolescence is a good thing.

But when you are a writer, someone who makes their LIVING out of writing, and cannot anymore its death.

Worth reading in full

Backlash against antidepressants is fueling new interest in alternative treatments.

From the Wall Street Journal (With a tip of the hat to Furious Seasons) here are some of our favorite snippets from a much larger article

From lobotomies with ice picks to early antidepressants that caused brain hemorrhaging, Americans have a complicated and ever-changing approach to treating mental illness. Now, spurred by the growing disenchantment with antidepressants, an increasing number of people are seeking treatment for depression, anxiety and eating disorders from naturopaths, acupuncturists and even chiropractors. At the same time, more traditional psychiatrists are incorporating massage and meditation in their practices.


A backlash against antidepressants sparked by concerns about their safety, efficacy and side effects is helping drive patients to alternative methods. Some 80% of antidepressants are currently prescribed by primary doctors who often diagnose depression in a 20-minute visit and don't provide accompanying therapy or help manage side effects.

Sales of all classes of antidepressants were $13.5 billion in 2006, down from a peak of $13.8 billion in 2004, according to IMS Health, a health-care information company. Usage of selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) dropped in 2005 after warnings about side effects -- particularly the risk of suicidal behavior in people aged 25 and under, which prompted the Food and Drug Administration to order drug makers to add warnings to their packaging in 2004. The introduction of generics onto the market (most recently, for Zoloft) also contributed to lower sales.


At the same time, the rise of managed care and changes in Medicaid and Medicare have resulted in companies paying far less for mental health coverage. Employer spending on mental health care dropped to 1.3% of an employee's medical care costs in 2006, from 10.9% in 1988, according to employee-benefits firm Towers Perrin. While most employees with health insurance have some mental-health coverage, only 13% have coverage for an unlimited number of outpatient visits to providers such as psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers, says a 2006 survey of employers by the Kaiser Family Foundation. That's down from 19% in 2004. Most insurance policies pay for a limited number of visits, often 20 or 30 per year, and some put a cap on the dollars they'll pay.


Proponents of alternative medicine say the wide range of treatments used address broader causes like hormonal imbalances and stress. Treatment can mean spending time talking to patients about their physical and emotional problems, examining their diet and exercise habits, and doing blood tests to look for medical or environmental causes for depression, such as Lyme disease, toxic chemicals or mold.

In Los Angeles, naturopath Holly Lucille has seen 30% more patients in the past two years whose chief complaint is mental-health-related, while Sara Thyr, a naturopath in Manchester and Concord, N.H., has seen a 20% rise. Margot Longenecker's naturopathy practice in Branford and Wallingford, Conn., now has half of its patients come for anxiety and depression, compared with 25% three years ago.

"Half the time you feel like you have a psychiatric degree more than a chiropractic degree," says Basking Ridge, N.J., chiropractor Jerry Szych, who's seen a 25% rise in patients seeking counseling services over the same period. Columbus, Ohio, chiropractor Ronald Farabaugh says he has seen an increase of 20% over the past three years in those cases.

Melissa Mannon, a 36-year-old photographer in Bedford, N.H., saw psychologists for years about her depression and anxiety. Then she visited a naturopath for help with infertility, and was diagnosed with an intolerance to 90 different foods, including gluten. She changed her diet and within seven months, she got pregnant and most of her anxiety and depression went away, she says. She still sees her naturopath if she's feeling down and to discuss what's happening in her life. "She understands me," says Ms. Mannon.


Of course, alternative medicine has been used for mental health issues for years. A 2001 study by Ron Kessler and David Eisenberg at Harvard Medical School found that among those with anxiety and or depression, more than half used alternative medicine therapies; among those who sought the treatment of a licensed conventional provider, two-thirds also used alternative medicine during the prior year. The perceived helpfulness of the alternative therapies was similar to the perceived helpfulness of conventional therapies.


Lawfirms Looking to Sue for Damages Due to the Side Effects of Drugs

Here is one typical ad from the Peterson Law Firm, as seen on YouTube. Of interest is the side effects cited, which include the onset of Diabetes. Diabetes is treatable with Avandia, yet another drug from GlaxoSmithKline under the gun due to dangerous side effects. These ads are becoming much more common, and there are plenty of them on YouTube.

Avandia Blasted as GlaxoSmithKline Takes Another Blow to the Chin

GlaxoSmithKline is well known as the manufacturer of the psychiatric drug Paxil, and for which there are a number of settlements that people should be aware of. Now we have news that one of their products for diabetes is similarly defective. This increases the odds that the company in general is corrupt. From this report

Avandia has come under fire again after a German study found that the controversial diabetes medication did little to improve quality of life for patients using it. In fact, the analysis found that Avandia could actually worsen complications of the disease.

The new study was conducted at Dusseldorf’s Heinrich-Heine University. Researchers there analyzed data from 18 Avandia clinical trails involving 8,000 patients. The study concluded that Avandia was no better than older oral medications at reducing blood sugar, and those patients taking Avandia were more likely to gain weight and develop edema. Avandia was also linked to bone fractures and cardiac problems. Dr. Bernd Richter, who led the German research team, even went so far as to question the ethics of conducting further clinical trails of Avandia when other safer diabetes treatments were already available.

The German study is the latest in a string of bad news surrounding Avandia. On May 21, the Cleveland Clinic published an analysis of 42 clinical trails showing that patients taking Avandia had a 43-percent higher risk of having a heart attack. Though the Cleveland Clinic and German studies were conducted independent of each other, they seem to have reached similar conclusions. And just this week, Consumer Reports issued its “Best Buy” diabetes drugs report, which found that older and cheaper oral diabetes medications were a better choice for patients than new drugs like Avandia. The Consumer Reports study questioned the wisdom of prescribing Avandia when other more proven drugs are available at a lower cost. Avandia can cost as much as $200 per month, while generic diabetes drugs cost between $10 and $60 per month. The safety concerns surrounding Avandia also influenced the magazine’s decision to exclude the drug from its list of “Best Buys”.

GlaxoSmithKline, Avandia’s manufacturer, hotly disputes the findings of both the German and Cleveland Clinic studies. The company called the German study “misleading”, and claims that its own clinical trails show Avandia to be as safe and effective as other diabetes medications. Avandia had been GlaxoSmithKline’s second biggest selling product. Following the publication of the Cleveland Clinic study, prescriptions for Avandia tumbled and analysts slashed their estimates of the company’s future earnings.

Recently, both GlaxoSmithKline and the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) have come under fire for failing to warn the public about the cardiac risks associated with Avandia. Testimony at a congressional hearing last month revealed that the company and the FDA had known about the heart attack risk as far back as September 2005. On June 6, the FDA asked GlaxoSmithKline to update Avandia’s label to include a “Black Box” warning detailing the heart attack risk. The FDA has scheduled special hearings to look into Avandia’s safety issues for July 30.

Avandia has already been the target of at least one lawsuit filed by the family of a Texas man who suffered a fatal heart attack while taking the drug. GlaxoSmithKline was also named in a class action suit brought by a group of its shareholders. That lawsuit, filed on June 16, alleges that the company failed to adequately disclose information linking Avandia and heart problems to the investing public.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Psychologist accused of voyeurism loses license

from this report

State regulators suspended the license of veteran Seattle psychologist Stuart Greenberg on Thursday over accusations that he videotaped women using his office bathroom.

The action by the Examining Board of Psychology means Greenberg cannot practice as a psychologist unless the state lifts the suspension.

"We have sufficient proof to take disciplinary action, but he has opportunity now to defend himself," said Tammy Kelley, disciplinary program manager at the Department of Health.

On July 3, Greenberg was arrested for investigation of voyeurism, booked into the King County Jail and released two days later.

No charges have been filed, and the King County Prosecutor's Office is reviewing the case, with a decision expected as early as next week, said Dan Donohoe, a spokesman for the office.

A friend found a VCR tape showing the bathroom of Greenberg's Montlake office, according to a Seattle police report.

"Respondent secretly recorded images of others using the bathroom at his place of practice for his own gratification," according to disciplinary documents from the Examining Board of Psychology.

Greenberg is a nationally recognized expert in pediatric psychology. A clinical affiliate professor at the University of Washington, the psychologist worked for a decade with the Seattle Archdiocese on abuse cases involving priests.

A recording at his Montlake office said Greenberg is closing his office and professional practice and unavailable to respond to messages.

Greenberg has 20 days to respond and seek a hearing, the board said. He can also seek a settlement. Greenberg cannot practice during the process, Kelley said.

Psychiatrist agrees to stop violating patients' personal rights

As seen in this report

A Santa Ana psychiatrist has agreed to stop violating patients' personal rights and step down from the board of his nonprofit foundation in order to keep open the 18-year-old organization that treats the mentally ill.

John Henry Massimino, who will remain the medical director of the John Henry Foundation, also promised to comply with state eviction regulations and notify families that financial contributions are purely voluntary.


The agreement comes five months after the state sued to force Massimino and Chief Operating Officer Patricia Kelly out of the foundation, saying they "engaged in conduct inimical to the health, safety, morals and welfare" of their clients. The suit said clients were wrongfully evicted and families were pressured to contribute to the foundation.

The foundation leaders signed the agreement days before the state was to hold hearings on the allegations. Kelly, who resigned in the spring, agreed to surrender her administrator certificate and never apply for one again. Massimino agreed not to stockpile or relabel medications and to allow state regulators unobstructed access to the facility.

Terry Kennedy, president of the board of directors, said the relapse prevention plan will allow the foundation to better serve the residents. The organization runs a 34-bed residential facility called Moore Village in Santa Ana. Another facility, Manor House, was closed last year.

"We see this as a victory of cooperation over conflict in the best interest of our residents, who struggle on a daily basis with the difficulties associated with chronic mental illness," Kennedy said.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Research indicates Pediatric Ritalin may affect young brains.

In another case where you would think this was obvious.

U.S. medical researchers have discovered use of the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder drug Ritalin by young children might affect their brains.

The Weill Cornell Medical College animal study is among the first to investigate the effects of Ritalin (methylphenidate) on the neurochemistry of the developing brain.

Between 2 percent and 18 percent of U.S. children are thought to be affected by ADHD and Ritalin -- a stimulant similar to amphetamine and cocaine -- remains one of the most prescribed drugs for the behavioral disorder.

"The changes we saw in the brains of treated rats occurred in areas strongly linked to higher executive functioning, addiction and appetite, social relationships and stress, said Professor Teresa Milner, the study's lead author. "These alterations gradually disappeared over time once the rats no longer received the drug."

The scientists said their findings suggest physicians should be careful in their diagnosis of ADHD before prescribing Ritalin. That's because Ritalin might be helpful in battling the disorder but harmful if given to youngsters with healthy brain chemistry.

The research appears in the Journal of Neuroscience.
We happen to think that it is dangerous to give to anyone

Where to Lodge a complaint in Australia

Where to lodge a complaint against a dodgey doctor in the Land of OZ, Australia


Community and Health Services Complaints Commissioner
Level 5
1 Moore Street
GPO Box 1321
Canberra City ACT 2601
Phone: (02) 6205 2222
Fax: (02) 6207 1034
Email: health.complaints@act.gov.au
Website: www.act.gov.au/complaints

Complementary Healthcare Council Complaints Resolution Committee
PO Box 104
Deakin West ACT 2600
Phone: (02) 6260 4022
Fax: (02) 6260 4122
Email: chc@chc.org.au
Website: www.chc.org.au


Health Services Commissioner
30th Floor, 570 Bourke Street
Melbourne VIC 3000
Phone: 1 800 136 066 (Toll free in regional Victoria) or (03) 8601 5200
TTY: 1300 550 275
Fax: (03) 8601 5219
Email: hsc@dhs.vic.gov.au
Website: www.health.vic.gov.au


Health Care Complaints Commission
Level 13 323 Castlereagh Street Sydney NSW 2000 Locked Bag 18
Strawberry Hills NSW 2012
Phone: 1800 043 159 (Toll free) or (02) 9219 7444
Fax: (02) 9281 4585
TTY: (02) 9219 7555 Email: hccc@hccc.nsw.gov.au
Website: www.hccc.nsw.gov.au


Health Rights Commission
Level 19
288 Edward Street
Brisbane QLD 4000
GPO Box 3089
Brisbane QLD 4001
Phone: 1800 077 308 (QLD Toll free) or (07) 3234 0272
Fax: (07) 3234 0333
TTY: (07) 3225 2559
Website: www.hrc.qld.gov.au


Office of Health Review
Level 17, St Martins Tower
44 St Goerges Terrace
Perth WA 6000
GPO Box B61
Perth WA 6838
Phone: 1800 813 583 or (08) 9323 0600
Fax: (08) 9221 3675


Health Complaints Commissioner
GPO Box 960
Hobart TAS 7001
Phone: (03) 6233 6348 or 1800 001 170
Fax: (03) 6233 8966
Email: health.complaints@justice.tas.gov.au
Website: www.justice.tas.gov.au/health_complaints


Darwin Office
12th Floor, NT House
22 Mitchell Street
Darwin NT 0800
GPO Box 1344
Darwin NT 0801
Phone: 1800 806 380
Fax: (08) 8999 1828
Email: hcscc.omb@nt.gov.au
Website: www.nt.gov.au/omb_hcscc

Alice Springs Office
Ground Floor, Centrepoint Building
Hartley Street
Alice Springs NT 0870
PO Box 2388
Alice Springs NT 0871
Phone: (08) 8951 5818
Fax: (08) 8951 5828


Complaints against public sector health services:

SA Ombudsman
Level 5, East Wing
50 Grenfell Street
Adelaide SA 5000
Phone: (08) 8226 8699 or 1800 182 150
Fax: (08) 8226 8602
Email: ombudsman@agd.sa.gov.au
Website: www.ombudsman.sa.gov.au/complaints

Complaints against medical practitioners:

Medical Board of South Australia
91 Payneham Road
St Peters SA 5069
PO Box 359
Stepney SA 5069
Phone: (08) 8362 7811
Fax: (08) 8362 7906
Website: www.medicalboardsa.asn.au


Private Health Insurance Ombudsman
Suite 1201, Level 12
St Martin's Tower
31 Market Street
Sydney 2000
Phone: 1800 640 695 or (02) 9261 5855;
Hearing impaired: 132544 Translating: 131450
Fax: (02) 9261 5937
Email: info@phio.org.au
Website: http://www.phio.org.au

We also have this list of Health Ombudsmen

Health Ombudsmen

Office of the Health Services Commissioner
Freecall™ 1800 136 066


Health Care Complaints Commission
Freecall™ 1800 043 159 (within NSW)

Health Rights Commission
Freecall™ 1800 077 308 (within Queensland excluding Brisbane)
Brisbane 07 3234 0272)

The SA Ombudsman
Tollfree 1800 182 150

Consumer Health Complaints Unit
Freecall™ 1800 182 150 (within SA)

Office of Health Review

Freecall™ 1800 813 583 (within WA)

Health Complaints Commissioner
Tollfree™ 1800 001 170 (within Tasmania)

ACT Community and Health Services Complaints Commissioner

Telephone (02) 6205 2222

Commissioner for Health & Community Services Complaints
Freecall™ 1800 806 380

The Tale of the Crooked Psychiatrist

From the Harrow Times in England

A crooked psychiatrist who fleeced thousands of pounds in income support while earning £50,000 a year and owning two homes has been thrown out of the profession.

Dr Alma Yak, 55, from Kingsbury, was given a 15 month suspended sentence at Harrow Crown Court in September 2005 for a swindle that saw her pocket almost £30,000.

Yak told the North Essex Mental Health Trust that she needed a six month sabbatical to care for her sick mother.

But she found herself another job with the West London Mental Health Trust after just a month on leave.

She had also been claiming income support, housing and council tax benefit from since at least April 1993, originally from Edgware Road, Kingsbury, and then from Westbury Road, Alperton.

Yak was awarded incapacity benefit, but investigations revealed that she had in fact been working since August 2001 as a qualified psychiatrist, earning approximately £50,000 a year.

She owned two properties, one in Kingsbury since January 2003 and one in Colchester since August 2001.

The Sudanese trained psychiatrist kept a prescription pad from the North Essex trust and wrote four prescriptions for family members while on the sabbatical.

The North Essex Trust then spent months trying to get Yak to repay them £23,800 they had accidentally paid her in wages while she was taking the work break.

Chairman Professor David Katz said: 'The allegations which the panel has found proved represent a serious breach of the principles and standards of conduct that the public is entitled to expect from registered medical practitioners.

He said to Yak: 'You behaved dishonestly on many occasions over an extended period of time.

'The panel is very concerned about this persistent and deliberate dishonesty.' Yak admitted her convictions for benefit fraud and that her conduct in writing four prescriptions was unprofessional, inappropriate and misleading, intended to mislead and dishonest.

The GMC last week found her fitness to practise impaired and struck her off.

ABC Investigation of Paxil Addiction

ABC's PRIMETIME LIVE covered the issue of PAXIL ADDICTION on December 9th, 2004. Here is a clip from that episode, courtesy of You Tube.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Coalition for the Abolition of Electroshock in Texas

As described on their site

We are a local and international coalition of citizens deeply concerned about the grievous harm done to individuals by the administration of electroconvulsive shock, ECT. We are committed to abolishing this cruel and dangerous practice in Texas, and we will not rest until we do!
An interesting little site with definite potential

Monday, July 16, 2007

How to Sue Drug Companies for Free

As seen on You Tube

You Tube's description

Defective drug legislation is big right now. Pharma is rapidly becoming the next big tobacco but on a much grander scale.

Class action lawsuits with 10,000s of victims are lashing out against drug firms while even State governments level more lawsuits against them.

Law firms are suing pharmaceutical companies for unethical marketing practices, a failure to warn the public about potentially harmful and sometimes deadly side effects when they were known about prior to marketing, downplaying side effects while hyping up benefits, etc.

If you have been damaged by a medication you can potentially sue and in most cases lawyers will take your case for free.

Some drugs that are listed on law office websites as defective drugs include; Vioxx, Bextra, Celebrex, Crestor, Baycol, Viagra, Cialis, Risperdal, Seroguel, Zyprexa, Adderall, Ritalin, Neurotin, Paxil, Prozac, Ambien, Zoloft.

Some defective drugs have been associated with death, suicide, homicide, neurological damage, heart attacks, diabetes, excessive weight gain, sexual dysfunction, impertinency, vision loss and a host of other side effects.

Virtually every psychotropic (psychiatric) drug is listed on some defective drug website including antidepressants, antipsychotic, anti-anxiety medications (anxiolytics), etc.

Drug companies that are being sued include Eli Lilly, Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson, Janssen, Abbott, Novartis, Wyeth, etc.

You can get a free legal consultations just by doing a search with the drug name and the world lawyer.

Did your child take Paxil? Get a refund.

From the Paxil Payback Website

If you ever purchased the antidepressant Paxil or Paxil CR for your child or ward, then you are entitled to recover the money you spent on the drug.

  • You are entitled to this money if:
    • you live in the U.S. and
    • you purchased Paxil or Paxil CR for someone under the age of 18.
    If you qualify, you MUST fill out a claim form and mail it to the Paxil Pediatric Settlement Administrator in order to receive compensation. The claims must be received by August 31, 2007.

    If you do not have receipts from the Paxil or Paxil CR purchases:

  • You may receive up to $100.

    If you do have receipts from the Paxil or Paxil CR purchases:

  • You may receive up to the entire amount of money you spent purchasing Paxil or Paxil CR for someone under the age of 18.
    Be sure to follow the claim form's instructions: attach copies of your receipts or records to document how much you spent on Paxil or Paxil CR.




    See also this nifty video on YouTube


    Lost and confused, Collin doesn't know which way to turn. He personifies why a major drug company was sued and why $48 million is waiting to be claimed by parents of kids who took the anti-depressant PAXIL. Most people don't even know about the lawsuit OR the fact that they may be entitled to a refund. For a short time, the maker of Paxil is paying parents. Learn more at www.paxilpayback.org and spread the word

    Criminal Probe Into Anna's Prescriptions

    A followup on the rumor mill news regarding the investigation of infamous shrink Dr. Kristine Eroshevich in connection with the death of Anna Nicole Smith, this time by Federal Agents. It was our own earlier understanding that Eroshevich faced investigation from at least three possible sources: The State of California, the US D.O.J., and the government of the Bahamas. With any luck she has probably already had a facelift, so that she would not be all that recognizable today.

    TMZ has learned the California Department of Justice (DOJ) is conducting a criminal investigation into several doctors who prescribed various medicines to Anna Nicole Smith.

    Sources tell TMZ the DOJ's Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement has contacted Larry Birkhead, Big Mo (Anna's bodyguard) and others. We're told DOJ is particularly interested in two doctors -- Khristine Eroshevich and Sandeep Kapoor. TMZ broke the story that Dr. Kapoor prescribed methadone to Anna under an assumed name when she was eight months pregnant. Dr. Eroshevich ordered a virtual pharmacy of drugs for Anna, five days after her son Daniel died.

    Dr. Eroshevich, who was in the Bahamas with Anna, sent the prescription wish list to Dr. Kapoor. Kapoor's attorney, Ellyn Garofalo, told TMZ "Dr. Kapoor declined the request for prescriptions. He would never prescribe that combination of drugs, in such large dosages, to any patient."

    The Medical Board of California launched its own investigation of the two doctors earlier this year. That investigation is pending.

    The New "Lost Generation" - Drugs for hyperactive children soar

    Selected quotes from this report

    A lost generation of children are growing up taking powerful prescription pills.

    Super-strength drugs to tackle a severe childhood behavioural condition are soaring on Tyneside.

    According to new figures seen by the Chronicle, the number of youngsters on medication for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, commonly known as ADHD, has doubled in Newcastle over the last two years.

    Other areas are seeing an increase in the prescribing of strong stimulants such as Ritalin, Modafinil, and Dexedrine, as well as antidepressant Atomoxetine – which can all counteract hyperactivity.

    The figures show prescriptions in the Newcastle Primary Care Trust area alone shot up from 2,284 in 2005-06 to 4,073 in 2006-07.

    In North Tyneside, prescription numbers exploded from 528 in 2005/06 to 2,367 in 2006/07.

    Gateshead, South Tyneside, Sunderland and Durham City also saw an increase in the number of prescriptions.

    Children as young as six could be getting the drugs, and the rise in prescriptions has been blasted by a psychiatric health watchdog, the Citizens’ Commission on Human Rights, which claims children are being “drugged into submission”.


    It is estimated that ADHD drugs cost the Newcastle PCT alone more than £198,000 in the past year and some argue they are not necessary and could even harm a child.

    Brian Daniels, from the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, said: “Children do experience problems and upsets in life that may result in mental troubles.

    “But to represent that these troubles are caused by chemical imbalances or incurable brain diseases that can only be alleviated with dangerous drugs is dishonest, harmful and often deadly.

    “They mask the real cause of problems in life and debilitate the individual, so denying him or her the opportunity for real recovery and hope for the future.”

    Mum Deborah Bennett, from Washington, has decided against drugs to treat her nine-year-old son Jack’s ADHD, despite being offered Ritalin and a way to cope with his uncontrollable behaviour.

    Jack, a pupil at Maplewood School in Sunderland, which specialises in helping children with conditions such as ADHD, is prone to uncontrollable swearing and aggressive outbursts towards other children, and can seldom be left alone.

    Deborah, 38, said: “I was worried about the effects drugs would have on him because sometimes they can make the children seem like zombies.

    “Although the summer holidays are coming up and I’m concerned about how I’ll manage his behaviour, I won’t go for drugs – and I only would as a very last resort.”

    Of course they try to put a cheery face on it all.