Monday, December 29, 2008

'Are You Sure You're Not Psychotic?' Asks Shameless Drug Company.

Commentary by Martha Rosenberg on OpEd News

If 100 million Americans have high cholesterol and only 8 million have schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, how can AstraZeneca's Seroquel not cholesterol pill Crestor be its second best selling pill?

Right after its number one pill, the Purple Performer Nexium?

Can anyone say disease mongering?

For years, AstraZeneca has tried to convince depressed people they are really bipolar and need to take the atypical antipsychotic Seroquel (quetiapine fumarate) which is only approved for schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

"Is It Really Depression or Could It Be Bipolar Disorder?" trumpet the ads, urging unaware victims to take a Symptom Quiz and find out how sick they really are.

Full color spreads run in general interest magazines showing a rampaging woman her mouth contorted--think female Dark Knight--asking readers is this you?

"Are there periods of time when you have racing thoughts? Fly off the handle at little things? Spend out of control? Need less sleep? Feel irritable? You may need treatment for bipolar disorder."

Now the FDA says AstraZeneca can not--repeat not--market Seroquel for depression.

In December the FDA denied approval of Seroquel for major depressive disorder and asked the company instead for more information in a complete response letter (CRL).


Of course to be AstraZeneca's number two pill, Seroquel must be used by more than the nation's schizophrenia and bipolar disorder patients who number only 8 million.

Almost half of Seroquel's 2006 sales were for off label uses says Bloomberg news including depression, autism and hyperactivity in adolescents and dementia, insomnia and Alzheimer's disease in the elderly.

Which wouldn't be so bad if Seroquel were safe.

But AstraZeneca faces nine thousand lawsuits--15,026 plaintiffs-- alleging the company failed to adequately warn patients about Seroquel side effects like severe weight gain, diabetes and pancreatitis.

Even as AstraZeneca vowed to defend the suits on their merits and not capitulate like Lilly with its $1.48 billion settlement with 32 states over similar drug Zyprexa this year, more bad ink spilled.

Documents surfaced in December that showed AstraZeneca knew as far back as 2000 about Seroquel's dangerous side effects at a pretrial hearing in a Tampa, Florida federal court for an upcoming Seroquel trial.

There was "reasonable evidence to suggest Seroquel therapy can cause" diabetes and related conditions wrote Wayne Geller, AstraZeneca's Global Safety Officer after analyzing available studies and internal trials says Bloomberg news.

Created in 1988 and approved for schizophrenia in 1997, Seroquel had an "efficient" journey from R&D to sales.

But in 2005 an article in the New England Journal of Medicine found Seroquel and other atypical antipsychotics except one had no advantage over the older antipsychotics like Haldol and Thorazine. Including the reduction in rigidity and tremors which was sold as their advantage over the old drugs!

The same year, an article in the British Medical Journal found Seroquel and a similar atypical antipsychotic were ineffective in reducing agitation among Alzheimer's patients and actually made cognitive functioning worse.

And in AstraZeneca's own clinical trials, 2.4 percent of people who began treatment with normal blood sugar became technically diabetic after 52 weeks on Seroquel plaintiff lawyer Paul Pennock testified at the Tampa pretrial hearing-- almost a 70 percent increase over those not taking the drug.

Nor can AstraZeneca claim it has marketed Seroquel legally and for approved uses only.

On Thursday, January 3, 2008, an AstraZeneca sales rep "made an unsolicited sales call to a physician at his office" and "stated that Seroquel was approved for treatment of Major Depressive Disorder (MDD)," charges a letter sent to James L. Gaskil, Pharm.D., Director of AstraZeneca's Promotional Regulatory Affairs from FDA Regulatory Review Officer Amy Toscano, Pharm.D. in December.

When the physician asked for written information, the rep sent a mailing with "information about Seroquel and Seroquel XR's use for MDD, and included summaries of eight clinical trials with referenced citations. This mailing was not the result of an unsolicited request by the physician, but rather was prompted by the sales representative's statements," charges the FDA.

AstraZeneca reps were even coached to sell product using the A.A. Milne figures Tigger--bipolar!--and Eeyore--depressed!-- reports the pharma site Pharmalot.

The characterizations could come in handy.

In December AstraZeneca sought approval from the FDA for Nexium for the "overlooked GERD population" of "patients ages 0 to 1 year old."

"While some reflux and regurgitation are normal in infants and may not require medical treatment," says Marta Illueca, MD, AstraZeneca's Nexium Brand Medical Director, "Close medical supervision is key in the appropriate diagnosis and choice of treatment for these infants."

They may have bipolar disorder too.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Report finds children overmedicated on purpose to keep them quiet

A report from MSNBC

Some children showing up in emergency rooms with overdoses of cough or cold syrup may have been intentionally medicated to keep them quiet, doctors cautioned on Thursday.

An analysis of 189 children who died from medication overdoses showed a significant percentage appeared to have been intentionally overdosed, the doctors reported in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

"This is a heads up," said Dr. Richard Dart, director of the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center in Denver.

In 79 of the cases, an adult gave the child nonprescription medicine. In 19 cases the adults clearly meant to help the child, but in 26 cases a panel of experts determined the intent was not to treat, Dart said.

He said a panel of experts had to agree that the intent was clear. "They were quite certain in all the cases they decided were intentional," Dart said in a telephone interview.

"We had some cases where the parent poured it into the kid's mouth directly from the bottle," he added.

In October, U.S. makers of over-the-counter cough and cold medications, urged by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, advised that these drugs should not be used in children under 4 and the FDA is considering requests to ban their use in children under 12.

Dart said complications from accidental misuse are known and dangerous.

"We aren't trying to say there aren't accidents. I am concerned that we have blinders on and we don't want to admit that there is a group of parents who all the warnings in the world won't help because they did it knowingly," he said.

"What we have is a group of adults who want to control the behavior of children and do it in a variety of ways," Dart added.

"Sometimes it is physical violence and sometimes it is drugs. They tend to be lower-income, under-educated parents, often with a history of child abuse or violence in the home. I think there is a clear population here for us to focus on that are involved in these events."

Parents should also be aware that some of the adults who gave the medications to the children were day-care providers who probably were not malevolent in their actions but simply overwhelmed and looking for a way to quiet down their charges, Dart said.

An estimated 4 million children under the age of 12 are treated with over-the-counter cough and cold products each week in the United States.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Big Pharma Spends More On Advertising Than Research

Seen on the ZME Science Blog, via a link to the story recently on Reddit, in reference to this paper

A drug company is a commercial business whose focus is to research, develop, market and/or distribute drugs, most commonly in the context of healthcare; from wikipedia. But according to a study by two York University researchers estimates the U.S. pharmaceutical industry spends almost twice as much on promotion as it does on research and development, contrary to the industry’s claim.

But how could this be you might ask yourself. Well the answer is fairly easy; regardless of its purpose of helping people it is a bussiness and thus it has to make money and the way of making money is by advertising more and researching less. The researchers’ estimate is based on the systematic collection of data directly from the industry and doctors during 2004, which shows the U.S. pharmaceutical industry spent 24.4% of the sales dollar on promotion, versus 13.4% for research and development, as a percentage of US domestic sales of US$235.4 billion.

In case you are wondering who made this study well the research is co-authored by PhD candidate Marc-AndrĂ© Gagnon, who led the study and Joel Lexchin, a long-time researcher of pharmaceutical promotion, Toronto physician, and Associate Chair of York’s School of Health Policy & Management in the Faculty of Health.
“In our paper, we make the case for the need for a new estimate of promotional expenditures by the U.S. pharmaceutical industry,” says Gagnon. “We then explain how we used proprietary databases to construct a revised estimate and finally, we compare our results with those from other data sources to argue in favor of changing the priorities of the industry.”

This study is very important as it shows the most accurate image yet of the promotional workings of the pharmaceutical industry, says Lexchin. But even this could be wrong a bit because there are other advertising campaigns which could not be taken into consideration such as ghost-writing and off-label promotion so in fact these companies are probably spending more than twice advertising rather then researching. As well, note the authors, the number of meetings for promotional purposes has dramatically increased in the U.S. pharmaceutical industry, jumping from 120,000 in 1998 to 371,000 in 2004, further supporting their findings that the U.S. pharmaceutical industry is marketing-driven.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Whistle-Blowers in Chinese City Sent to Mental Hospital

As Reported in the NY Times

Local officials in Shandong Province have apparently found a cost-effective way to deal with gadflies, whistle-blowers and all manner of muckraking citizens who dare to challenge the authorities: dispatch them to the local psychiatric hospital.

In an investigative report published Monday by a state-owned newspaper, public security officials in the city of Xintai in Shandong Province were said to have been institutionalizing residents who persist in their personal campaigns to expose corruption or the unfair seizure of their property. Some people said they were committed for up to two years, and several of those interviewed said they were forcibly medicated.

The article, in The Beijing News, said most inmates were released after they agreed to give up their causes.

Sun Fawu, 57, a farmer seeking compensation for land spoiled by a coal-mining operation, said he was seized by local authorities on his way to petition the central government in Beijing and taken to the Xintai Mental Health Center in October.

During a 20-day stay, he said, he was lashed to a bed, forced to take pills and given injections that made him numb and woozy. According to the paper, when he told the doctor he was a petitioner, not mentally ill, the doctor said: “I don’t care if you’re sick or not. As long as you are sent by the township government, I’ll treat you as a mental patient.”

In an interview with the newspaper, the hospital’s director, Wu Yuzhu, acknowledged that some of the 18 patients brought there by the police in recent years were not deranged, but he said that he had no choice but to take them in. “The hospital also had its misgivings,” he said.

Xintai officials do not see any shame in the tactic, and they boasted that hospitalizing people they characterized as troublemakers saved money that would have been spent chasing them to Beijing. There is another reason to stop petitioners who seek redress from higher levels of government: they can prove embarrassing to local officials, especially if they make it to Beijing.

The Xintai government Web site noted that provincial authorities had recently referred to Xintai as “an advanced city in building a safe Shandong.” They said that from January to May this year, the number of petitioners who went over the heads of local authorities was 274, a 4 percent drop from the same period in 2007. Although China is not known for the kind of systematic abuse of psychiatry that occurred in the Soviet Union, human rights advocates say forced institutionalizations are not uncommon in smaller cities. Robin Munro, the research director of China Labor Bulletin, a rights organization in Hong Kong, said such “an kang” wards — Chinese for peace and health — were a convenient and effective means of dealing with pesky dissidents.

“Once a detainee has been officially diagnosed as dangerously mentally ill, they’re immediately taken out of the criminal justice system and they lose all legal rights,” said Mr. Munro, who has researched China’s practice of psychiatric detention.

In recent years practitioners of Falun Gong, the banned spiritual movement, have complained of what they call coerced hospitalizations. One of China’s best-known dissidents, Wang Wanxing, spent 13 years in a police-run psychiatric institution under conditions he later described as abusive.

In one recent, well-publicized case, Wang Jingmei, the mother of a man convicted of killing six policemen in Shanghai, was held incommunicado at a mental hospital for five months and released only days before her son was executed in late November.

The article in The Beijing News about the hospitalizations in Xintai was notable for the attention it gained in China’s constrained state-run media. Such Communist Party stalwarts as People’s Daily and the Xinhua news agency republished the article, and it was picked up by scores of Web sites. At, the country’s most popular portal, the report ranked as the fifth most-viewed news headline, and readers posted more than 23,000 comments by evening. The indignation expressed was universal, with many clamoring for the dismissal of those involved. “They’re no different from animals,” read one post. “No, they’re worse.”

By Monday evening, the Xintai city government was rejecting the report by The Beijing News as reckless and slanted. In a telephone interview broadcast on Shandong provincial television, an unidentified municipal official suggested that those confined to the mental hospital had gone mad from their single-minded quest for justice. “There are some people who have been petitioning for years and become mentally aggravated,” the official said.

Reached by phone on Monday, a hospital employee said Mr. Wu, the hospital director who voiced his misgivings to The Beijing News, was unavailable. The employee, Hu Peng, said that officials from the local government had taken him away for “a meeting” earlier in the day.

Although he would not provide a reporter with contact information for the former patients, Mr. Hu defended the hospitalizations, saying that all those delivered by the Public Security Bureau were sick. He added that the hospital was not authorized to provide a diagnosis to the patients, only to treat them. “We definitely would not accept those without mental problems,” he said.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Medical board seeks to yank license of former UCSC psychiatrist over sex acts

A Report in the Mercury News

The state medical board is seeking to revoke the license of a former UC Santa Cruz psychotherapist who authorities say admitted to having a brief sexual relationship with a 21-year-old student whom he was treating for relationship issues and an eating disorder.

Milton Peechuan Huang, 45, of Scotts Valley, was a staff psychiatrist at the Student Health Center during the alleged affair that began in November 2007 and ended the next month, according to a complaint filed by the California Attorney General's Office. Huang resigned his half-time post with UCSC in February after the university launched an investigation that resulted in the medical board probe.

The Medical Board of California is expected to hold a hearing to determine if Huang crossed professional boundaries of therapy and committed unprofessional conduct. If found guilty, Huang's license could be revoked or suspended, or he could be placed on probation.

A spokeswoman with the Attorney General's Office said she did could not say how the university came to learn of the alleged impropriety, and a university spokesman could not immediately provide information about the case. Authorities have not identified the patient.

"We obviously take these allegations very seriously, and have cooperated fully with the state Medical Board during its investigation into this accusation," campus spokesman Jim Burns said Monday.

Huang could not be reached Monday, and an attorney who represented Huang
during the medical board's investigation did not return several messages. Huang, who worked 5 1/2 years for the university, has maintained a private practice in Santa Cruz, but it's unclear if he is still seeing patients.

A recent posting on indicates Huang is "job hunting." Huang's profile on that site, as well as his own Web site, said that he is interested in the connections between technology, science and emotions.

"This includes learning something about sociology, anthropology, religion, mathematics, cognitive science, neurobiology and philosophy," his site says. "It also includes working on being more true to myself and despite failings, striving to live a better life. I practice tai chi and being a father. I continue to look at how I can best pursue creating change in myself and my personal relationships."

According to a Nov. 6 complaint signed by Barbara Johnston, executive director of the medical board, Huang admitted in an July 29 interview with the agency that he had sexual contact on at least two occasions with the patient, who was first referred to him in January or February 2007. On one occasion, he said the patient told him she was sexually attracted to him.

Students being seen by campus psychotherapists have to transfer treatment to the chief psychiatrist or be referred to a private practice over the summer, so the woman asked to be transferred to Huang's private care in July, the complaint says. After several months of weekly appointments, Huang said the two began sharing "each others' thoughts and emotions" during a Nov. 2 session he described as one of "self-revelation."

The complaint said Huang acknowledged that session was "his first boundary crossing," and said the two started talking to each other on the telephone and exchanging text messages, though he resisted physical contact for two more weeks. During a Nov. 16 session at his office, however, Huang said they both disrobed and touched each other.

At the following session, Huang said he handed his patient a booklet titled "Professional Therapy Never Includes Sex," to which he said she replied, "Shouldn't we have sex first?" The doctor described the next two sessions as "emotionally tense" as they discussed possibly ending their relationship.

Still, Huang said he agreed to the patient's request to hold their Dec. 21 therapy session in her Santa Cruz apartment, where he said they exchanged gifts before entering her bedroom. Huang told the medical board the patient performed oral sex on him and snapped a photo of him standing by her car before he left, after which he said the two did not speak again.

Huang said he did not bill the patient for that session or the preceding one because they were "informal," but all others, including the Nov. 16 session when the two disrobed in his office, were billed for 50 minutes of time.

Since July 2007, the medical board has filed 240 cases of alleged physician misconduct, according to the Attorney General's Office. Thirty-two of the licenses were revoked, but 91 doctors were placed on probation and 87 others were subject to various forms of reprimand.

Houston Psychiatrist's License Suspened Over Cocaine Use

As reported by the Houston Chronicle

The Texas Medical Board temporarily has suspended the license of Houston psychiatrist Dr. Eli Anderson, saying he failed a test for cocaine use and his practice represents a threat to the public's welfare.

Agency documents indicate Anderson, 64, pleaded no contest to a third-degree felony cocaine possession charge in June 2005. He was placed on a five-year order of deferred adjudication, meaning that the offense would be stricken from his record if he met probation-like requirements during that period.

In February 2007, Anderson was arrested in Lubbock on outstanding warrants from Clay County. While in custody, Lubbock police lodged other charges against him, including one for possessing drug paraphernalia.

In August of that year, officials of Anderson's employer, the Lubbock Regional Mental Health and Mental Retardation Center, notified the medical board that the charges had led to his dismissal.

In June, Anderson tested positive for a cocaine metabolite.

Medical board spokeswoman Jill Wiggins said the temporary suspension will remain in effect indefinitely. Anderson may appeal the decision in state district court.

Anderson, a graduate of the Baylor College of Medicine, has practiced in Texas 29 years, most recently at 8240 Antoine Drive. He could not be reached for comment.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Lapses at Psychiatric Solutions Inc., a major hospital chain with high earnings, have put patients at risk, regulators find. Some have even died.

Highlights from a MUCH longer article in the LA Times

Lapses at Psychiatric Solutions Inc., a major hospital chain with high earnings, have put patients at risk, regulators find. Some have even died.


Since 2005, the 10 hospitals PSI has owned longest have compiled almost twice as many patient-care deficiencies as 10 similar hospitals owned by its closest competitor, Universal Health Services Inc.

The PSI hospitals were cited in three patient deaths and for placing patients in immediate jeopardy four times, the inspection records show. The UHS hospitals received no equivalent citations.

Among private psychiatric hospitals in California, Sierra Vista had the single highest rate of state and federal deficiencies -- about eight times the statewide average.

It has twice been fined $25,000 for endangering patients -- accounting for the only such penalties levied against psychiatric hospitals under a 2006 state law establishing the sanctions. PSI executives declined to be interviewed for this article and, citing privacy law, would not discuss individual patients.

In written responses, they rejected the analysis showing the company's hospitals compared poorly to others, saying: "Your assumptions, calculations and apparent conclusions are invalid."

A spokesman, John Van Mol, said that PSI arguably has improved psychiatric care in the country overall. He cited the comparatively poor performance of state psychiatric facilities around the country in recent years.

PSI officials apologized for incidents resulting in harm to patients, saying they acted immediately to correct any problems. "Any incident involving patient care is one too many in our view, and everyone involved from the hospital level to the corporate level works very hard to prevent them," they wrote.

Recent state and federal inspections show the company's efforts have fallen short:

* Poor patient supervision, understaffing and inadequate worker training have led to instances of chaos and brutality.

A 19-year-old alleged he was raped twice within 24 hours by a fellow patient at an Illinois hospital even after he reported the first assault, federal records show.

Staffers at a Texas facility had to barricade themselves in an office and call in a SWAT team to bring unruly residents under control.

In North Carolina, inspectors found, a 12-year-old boy with a history of sexual aggression was put in a room with a 5-year-old and attempted to force the younger boy to perform oral sex.

* Medical neglect and errors have resulted in grave harm. A nurse at another North Carolina facility gave a 7-year-old boy anti-seizure medication prescribed for an older patient, leaving him so drowsy that a doctor wrote in his chart that "he refuses to wake up."

Workers in Virginia waited almost an hour to call an ambulance for a 17-year-old girl who had suffered a seizure and was bleeding profusely, inspection records show. The girl died later that day.

* In several instances, PSI employees have sought to hide their failings from regulators. A hospital in Texas was cited by state inspectors for concealing key facts about a patient abduction and a suicide. Regulators in Virginia uncovered what they called an organized scheme to cover up violence, suicide attempts and medication errors at a Charlottesville facility for juveniles.

* Some of the PSI hospitals most under fire from authorities are those the chain has owned longest. The Justice Department has opened an investigation into alleged patient-care problems at one of PSI's first acquisitions, Riveredge Hospital near Chicago, issuing subpoenas for records earlier this year.

Nationwide since 2006, health officials have pulled children out of one PSI facility and have moved five times to revoke the state licenses of others. They have withheld or ordered the company to repay more than $2 million in government funding for providing substandard care.

In addition to thousands of pages of inspection reports by individual states and the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, ProPublica's investigation was based on hospital and court records and interviews with about two dozen former employees.

PSI executives say they are filling a desperate need in a tough business.

"Everyone at Psychiatric Solutions works hard every day to achieve excellence in patient care, often under extremely difficult circumstances to serve a patient population that includes extremely acute and complex diagnoses," Chief Executive Joey Jacobs said in a written statement.

Chad Thompson, who worked in the admissions office at Sierra Vista when PSI took over, has a different view. He felt the chain put intense pressure on him to keep every bed full, with less emphasis on assuring that each patient got high-quality care.

"It's a pattern of behavior driven totally by the almighty dollar," said Thompson, now the director of a nonprofit that provides therapy to the uninsured and chairman of Sacramento County's Mental Health Board, which advises the county Board of Supervisors.

"It's not a client-centered approach. It's a money-centered approach."

Psychiatrist arrested on the probability that he inappropriately touched one of his patients.

From the Sentinel newspaper out of Nouth Brunswick, New Jerseyu

A psychiatrist at a behavioral health center in Edison was arrested on Oct. 17 on the belief that he inappropriately touched one of his patients.

The suspect, Chowdhury M. Azam, a 54-year-old Monmouth Junction resident, was charged with criminal sexual contact, a fourth-degree crime. Criminal sexual contact is described in the state legal code as "intentional touching by the victim or actor, either directly or through clothing, of the victim's or actor's intimate parts for the purpose of degrading or humiliating the victim or sexually arousing or sexually gratifying the actor."

The arrest was made the same day the alleged victim filed a report with the Edison Police Department. Following the filing, the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office Sex Crime/Child Abuse Unit and the Edison Police Department embarked on a joint investigation, eventually leading to Azam's arrest.

Azam has been a licensed psychiatrist with Compass Behavioral Health, located on Pierson Avenue. According to authorities, it is alleged that the psychiatrist inappropriately touched one of his patients on one occasion. The New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners, the regulatory agency that licenses medical professionals, was informed of Azam's arrest.

According to police, Azam has been released on $50,000 bail set by Municipal Court Judge Craig Coughlin.

Authorities have not released details regarding the alleged victim's age or gender.

Authorities are currently seeking more information about the matter. Anyone with information regarding this investigation, or incidents similar in nature, is encouraged to contact Investigator Raj Chopra of the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office Sex Crimes/Child Abuse Unit at 732-745-3600, or Detective Michael Michalski of the Edison Police Department at 732-248-7525 anytime day or night.

Family therapist charged with domestic battery

A report from

Michael Anthony Holder is a family therapist who conducts at-home "Dynamic Parenting Courses" to correct negative patterns in children's behaviors.

But he's in jail now, after Hillsborough County Sheriff's Deputies charged him with two counts of domestic battery, including the battery by strangulation of his 15-year-old stepson.

An arrest report says that during a domestic argument, Holder, 39, grabbed the boy by his neck, restricting his airflow, and that he inflicted several lacerations to the boy's arms and face and left a contusion on his left arm.

The report states that Holder denied strangling the boy, but admitted to having touched him in an attempt to get his stepson out of his living quarters.

The report lists Holder's place of employment as ACTS, a non-profit agency that provides services from help with substance abuse to mental illness to child protection.

Holder is being held at Orient Road Jail with no bond.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Psychiatric Radio Host Had Undisclosed Drug Company Ties, Conflict of Interest Means His Show to Be Pulled From Air

From a Report in the NY Times

An influential psychiatrist who was the host of the popular NPR program “The Infinite Mind” earned at least $1.3 million from 2000 to 2007 giving marketing lectures for drugmakers, income not mentioned on the program.

The psychiatrist and radio host, Dr. Frederick K. Goodwin, is the latest in a series of doctors and researchers whose ties to drugmakers have been uncovered by Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa. Dr. Goodwin, a former director of the National Institute of Mental Health, is the first news media figure to be investigated.

Dr. Goodwin’s weekly radio programs have often touched on subjects important to the commercial interests of the companies for which he consults. In a program broadcast on Sept. 20, 2005, he warned that children with bipolar disorder who were left untreated could suffer brain damage, a controversial view.

“But as we’ll be hearing today,” Dr. Goodwin told his audience, “modern treatments — mood stabilizers in particular — have been proven both safe and effective in bipolar children.”

That same day, GlaxoSmithKline paid Dr. Goodwin $2,500 to give a promotional lecture for its mood stabilizer drug, Lamictal, at the Ritz Carlton Golf Resort in Naples, Fla. In all, GlaxoSmithKline paid him more than $329,000 that year for promoting Lamictal, records given to Congressional investigators show.

In an interview, Dr. Goodwin said that Bill Lichtenstein, the program’s producer, knew of his consulting but that neither thought “getting money from drug companies could be an issue.”

“In retrospect, that should have been disclosed,” he said.

But Mr. Lichtenstein said that he was unaware of Dr. Goodwin’s financial ties to drugmakers and that, after an article in the online magazine Slate this year pointed out that guests on his program had undisclosed affiliations with drugmakers, he called Dr. Goodwin “and asked him point-blank if he was receiving funding from pharmaceutical companies, directly or indirectly, and the answer was, ‘No.’ ”

Asked about the contradiction, Dr. Goodwin and Mr. Lichtenstein each stood by their versions of events.

“The fact that he was out on the stump for pharmaceutical companies was not something we were aware of,” Mr. Lichtenstein said in an interview. “It would have violated our agreements.”

Margaret Low Smith, vice president of National Public Radio, said NPR would remove “The Infinite Mind” from its satellite radio service next week, the earliest date possible. Ms. Smith said that had NPR been aware of Dr. Goodwin’s financial interests, it would not have broadcast the program.

Sarah Alspach, a spokeswoman for GlaxoSmithKline, said, “We continue to believe that healthcare professionals are responsible for making disclosures to their employers and other entities, in this case National Public Radio and its listeners.”


Mr. Grassley is systematically asking some of the nation’s leading researchers and doctors to provide their conflict-of-interest disclosures, and he is comparing those documents with records of actual payments from drug companies. The records often conflict, sometimes starkly.

In October, Mr. Grassley revealed that Dr. Charles B. Nemeroff of Emory University, an influential psychiatric researcher, earned more than $2.8 million in consulting arrangements with drugmakers from 2000 to 2007, failed to report at least $1.2 million of that income to his university and violated federal research rules. As a result, the National Institutes of Health suspended a $9.3 million research grant to Emory, and Dr. Nemeroff gave up his chairmanship of Emory’s psychiatry department.

In June, the senator revealed that Dr. Joseph Biederman of Harvard, whose work has fueled an explosion in the use of powerful antipsychotic medicines in children, had earned at least $1.6 million from drugmakers from 2000 to 2007, and failed to report most of this income to Harvard.

Mr. Grassley’s investigation demonstrates how deeply pharmaceutical commercial interests reach into academic medicine, and it has shown that universities are all but incapable of policing these arrangements. As a result, almost every major medical school and medical society is reassessing its relationships with makers of drugs and devices.

“We know the drug companies are throwing huge amounts of money at medical researchers, and there’s no clear-cut way to know how much and exactly where,” Mr. Grassley said. “Now it looks like the same thing is happening in journalism.”

Mr. Grassley has proposed legislation that would require drugmakers to disclose all payments of $500 or more to doctors. Eli Lilly and Merck have promised to begin doing so next year.


Former psychiatrist guilty of raping patients

From ABC News in Australia

An 80-year-old former Perth psychiatrist has been found guility of molesting and raping two of his patients more than 30 years ago.

Alan John Stubley had been on trial for the past week accused of forcing the two women to have sex with him during psychotherapy sessions between 1975 and 1978.

After six hours of deliberations, a Supreme Court jury found him guility of ten charges, but acquitted him of four others.

Stubley, who has senile dementia, has been remanded in custody and will be sentenced in January.

Sacramento judge castigates psychiatrist who vouched for killer

A Report from the Sacramento Bee

Napa State Hospital's attempt to release a killer into community treatment in Sacramento was based on the "horrifying" testimony of a psychiatrist who "clearly committed perjury in this court," a judge said Monday.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Kevin J. McCormick made his comments about the Napa psychiatrist, Dr. Nathan Thuma, when he ruled from the bench that Ronald Benjamin Toppila is not fit for outpatient treatment and must remain in the mental hospital for killing his mother four years ago.

In a decision that will keep Toppila confined indefinitely on a jury's verdict that he was not guilty by reason of insanity, McCormick lashed Thuma for recommending in March that the defendant be released into community treatment even though at that time the psychiatrist had examined the client for barely a half hour.

McCormick said Thuma "could not have had enough information" to make the recommendation and that it was "beyond belief" the doctor could have reviewed Toppila's medical records in the short time he'd been on staff at Napa.

Thuma demonstrated "a total lack of independence and judgment" by concluding that Toppila did not present a danger because, in quoting the psychiatrist, "we all trust Mr. Toppila," McCormick said. The judge said Thuma's "demeanor and manner" in court "could only be described as horrifying."

"He clearly committed perjury in this court," McCormick said of Thuma. "He testified inconsistently at varying times. He showed a complete lack of any insight whatsoever into Mr. Toppila's history."

Thuma did not return a telephone call for comment Monday. A spokeswoman for the state Department of Mental Health said agency director Stephen Mayberg plans to review the judge's comments about Thuma.

"He would take it very seriously and look into it," the spokesman, Nancy Kincaid, said.

"If the judge expressed concern over someone's testimony or professional performance, that would be looked into both by the director of the department and by the executive director at the hospital."

McCormick did not specifically identify areas of Thuma's testimony where he thinks the psychiatrist lied under oath. In Thuma's testimony on Oct. 27, however, he wound up on both sides of a question on whether he thought Toppila had "malingered" to sway the therapists who were evaluating him. There were also inconsistencies in Thuma's testimony over whether he was aware of evaluations done on Toppila before the Oct. 7, 2004, beating death of his 86-year-old mother, Hilma Tone.

Deputy District Attorney Dawn Bladet hailed the judge's ruling, saying in an e-mail: "Toppila's continued confinement in Napa State Hospital is necessary to protect the public safety interest."

Toppila's lawyer, Robert J. Saria, said Toppila and his client's family were disappointed by the ruling. Saria said Toppila "is committed to returning to Napa and pursuing his treatment plan and engaging in all the treatment he is required to."

Toppila, 68, a long-time licensed clinical social worker, stabbed his mother 52 times and also bludgeoned her in the fatal attack in her South Land Park apartment.

Judge McCormick said he was also disturbed by the testimony of Antonio Alocer, an official from the Central Valley Conditional Release Program, which would have coordinated Toppila's community placement if he was released from Napa. McCormick said no treatment plan had been determined for Toppila in the event of his release. The judge said Alocer "could not tell me" where Toppila would be placed.

Alocer could not be reached for comment Monday.

"I cannot state with any degree of certainty based on the evidence that I heard in this courtroom that Mr. Toppila no longer poses a danger to the health and safety of others," McCormick said.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Psychiatrist guilty of misconduct after freeing dangerous patient

From a Report out of Plymouth, England

A Plymouth psychiatrist who released a dangerous schizophrenic from a mental health ward hours before he tried to kill his mother was today found guilty of 'recklessly' putting the public at risk.

Dr Andrea Tocca described the 39-year-old as 'no danger to himself or others' and discharged him from Derriford Hospital in Plymouth, Devon, a day after he assaulted a female patient.

Soon after arriving home, the man, referred to as GA, told his mother: 'I know what I have to do to you' and battered her repeatedly over the head with a spade.

Dr Tocca was found guilty of misconduct after the GMC panel decided that he had 'recklessly put the public at risk' in releasing GA from the ward.

Panel chair Ralph Bergmann said: 'This panel is particularly concerned by your decision to discharge GA on April 25, 2006.

'You had been responsible for the care and treatment of GA for some three months prior to discharging him.'

Mr Bergmann said during this time he had been informed by the patient's previous doctor in Torquay that 'if GA became acutely psychotic, his mother may be at risk.

'He (the doctor) had also informed you that GA had made two very serious suicide attempts.

'The panel accepts the proposition put forward by your counsel that your conduct in discharging GA amounted to a single episode of significant error.

'However, you had access to GA's medical history, you had become very familiar with his condition and you ought to have been very alert to the risks and potential consequences of discharging him.

'Your decision to do so leaves the panel in no doubt that this was serious misconduct on your part.

'As the consultant psychiatrist responsible foe the care and treatment of a vulnerable patient, you behaved irresponsibly and recklessly in allowing GA to be returned to the community.

'You thereby put at risk not only the patient but also his mother and the public.

'Taking all these matters into account, the panel has determined that your fitness to practise is impaired because of your misconduct.'

The GMC panel will now consider whether to kick Dr Tocca out of the medical profession.

The hearing was told that Dr Tocca did not read GA's medical notes and decided to 'make up his own mind' about the patient.

On April 24, GA assaulted a female patient on the unit by holding her in a headlock and punching her.

His medical records show that he had also threatened other patients and believed that the staff on the unit were trying to kill him.

Marios Lambis, for the GMC, said: 'At 9.55am on April 25, Dr Tocca made an entry in GA's notes stating that in his view, that assault on the female patient was not a product of his mental state but rather a result of the high level of stress he was experiencing on the unit.

'He recorded that once the police had completed their investigation into the assault, he would discharge GA, and twenty minutes later he recorded: ''In my clinical opinion, GA is not detainable under the Mental Health Act and he is not really a danger to himself or to others.'''

In a statement read to the panel GA's mother, referred to as Mrs A, told the hearing that Dr Tocca telephoned on April 25 to say her son had assaulted a patient but he was sending him home.


The GMC heard that GA had developed brain damage after falling from a tree swing at the age of 12 and became 'passive and apathetic.'

In 1991, at the age of 22, he was admitted to hospital in Manchester with paranoid psychotic symptoms, the hearing was told.

Mr Lambis said: 'He would not let anyone into his flat, his furniture was broken and he was talking in an incomprehensible manner.

'He had become suspicious and withdrawn.'

In 1993, he was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and was admitted to acute mental health units nine times over the following three years.

Two years later he made threats to kill his grandmother.

GA took an overdose in 2003 and was later sectioned.

On August 8 2005, he set fire to his mattress five times before lying on it and burning himself in a suicide attempt.

He spent 11 weeks in the burns unit at Frenchay Hospital in Bristol.

Dr Tocca admitted being told by GA's doctor that he became acutely psychotic his mother may be at risk.

He also admitted that he ought to have known that GA had made threats to kill his grandmother and had shown previous incidents of violence, and he discharged GH when he ought to have known he should not have been discharged.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Psychiatrist pays for misconduct

A report from the Hamilton Spectator, near Toronto, Canada

A Hamilton psychiatrist has been handed an expensive penalty after a disciplinary panel accepted his admission of professional misconduct.

Dr. Brian Kirsh, medical director of the chronic pain management unit for Hamilton Health Sciences at Chedoke Hospital, appeared before the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario yesterday.

A friend of Kirsh's alleged in 2007 the doctor failed to indicate the friendly, rather than professional, nature of a meeting where the man and his wife sought marital advice.

The panellists said Kirsh had blurred professional boundaries and they expected he would not make the same mistake again.

He was told to pay the $3,650 hearing cost, to take a $1,200 professional boundaries course and to make results of the hearing public online.

Before coming to Hamilton in 2003, Kirsch ran a family medical practice in Thornhill. He was friends with the couple for 18 years. The wife asked if he would meet with her and her husband. All three were members of the same religious community, and Kirsh and the woman worked together in that community. They met at his Thornhill practice in March 2007.

Kirsh asked the woman for her OHIP card at the beginning of the meeting, during which he advised them to seek a professional marriage counsellor for the troubles in their relationship.

The woman later told the college she understood Kirsh met with them as a family friend. The man, however, thought it was as a professional.

The woman asked to meet with Kirsh again that year. The two met at his office, where Kirsh told her he had feelings for her. She told him she was ending her marriage for reasons unrelated to him. The couple separated soon after.

Before the husband filed his complaint, Kirsh e-mailed him to apologize for any confusion and said he had seen the couple in a "spirit of friendship."

An agreed statement of facts says Kirsh admits to professional misconduct by taking the woman's OHIP card before the first meeting, by seeing them in his former medical office and by failing to "communicate clearly (to the man) that he was not seeing the couple in his professional capacity."

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Woman describes alleged abuse by psychiatrist

From a Report in the West Australian

A 62-year-old woman has described freezing with fear as her psychiatrist sexually abused her during a session for post-natal depression in the 1970s.

Former psychiatrist Alan John Stubley, 80, is on trial in Perth Supreme Court accused of forcing sex offences against two of his female patients in the mid-late 1970s.

One of the alleged victims today told the jury the doctor had abused her on her first face-to-face session after being discharged from a psychiatric hospital where Dr Stubley had treated her for post-natal depression.

She said she had been shocked when the doctor told her to sit on his knee.

“It was just a terrible silence and then he repeated it (in a tone that) was very authoritative, quite demanding,” she said.

“He put his hand on my leg and he rubbed his hand up my leg and between my legs.

“I just froze, I was just so afraid. I was afraid of him and what he might do to me.

“I said I didn’t want to do this.”

Prosecutor Alan Troy said Dr Stubley had abused his position by taking advantage of his patient’s vulnerability in the pursuit of his own sexual gratification.

He said the two women submitted to the sexual contact because they had felt intimidated.

Mr Troy said one of the victims, who continued seeing the doctor for decades, had feared that no-one would believe her if she spoke out at the time about the alleged abuse.

“She had recently been in a psychiatric hospital and she didn’t think anyone would believe her,” Mr Troy said.

Mr Troy said she also feared she would be put in an institution if she did not continue to see him.

Defence lawyer Mark Trowell said the sex between his client and the women was consensual and there had been no intimidation.

“This is not a court of morals…he may well have acted unprofessionally as a doctor but that doesn’t make him guilty of criminal charges,” Mr Trowell said.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

People with a bizarre disorder that makes them crave having a limb removed should be allowed amputations, according to Psychiatrist Christopher Ryan

Of course, curing them of the condition is something that the simply do not know how to do. As seen on News.Com Australia

To most people, the thought of amputating a perfectly healthy limb is unimaginable.

But for at least three Australians, possibly dozens more, cutting off their leg has felt perfectly normal.

These so-called "amputee wannabes" have a very rare condition in which they feel one of their limbs is not truly their own, and they become obsessed with cutting it off.

And people suffering from the bizarre body image disorder should be able to opt for amputation, a Sydney psychiatrist says.

Christopher Ryan, a psychiatrist at the University of Sydney, says there is a good argument for allowing patients with body integrity identity disorder (BIID) to have their unwanted limb removed.

"I am not saying we should unthinkingly cut off people's legs," Dr Ryan said.

"I realise that the idea strikes almost everyone as lunatic when they first hear it. However, there are a small number of people who see themselves, and have always seen themselves, as amputees," he said.

"They are often miserable their whole lives because of their 'extra limb', and we know that at least some of them feel much better if it is removed."

Dr Ryan has examined the ethics of the issue in the international philosophy journal Neuroethics and says doctors have a moral duty to amputate for the health and safety of the patient.

He said one 30-year-old patient of his lived his whole life feeling he was truly an amputee, but was so ashamed of how he felt he did not tell anyone.

"Eventually he took the only step he thought he had open to him and placed his leg in a bucket of dry ice until it died and had to be removed," Dr Ryan said.

"Now, a year later, he is living happily as an amputee and getting on with his life."

The paper said the operations should be likened to plastic surgery, with elective amputation offered to BIID sufferers only.

"Unless these patients know that doctors will take their concerns seriously, and at least consider their requests, more people will risk their lives trying to remove their own limbs," he said.

The disorder hit news headlines in 2000 when it was revealed that a surgeon in Scotland had amputated a healthy leg from two patients with the disorder.

At the time, appalled Scottish politicians called the procedure "obscene" and tried to ban such operations.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Boston Legal: TV Drama Or Reality Show?

The Website PharmaLot has an item noting the intrusion of recent scandals involving Harvard Psychiatrist Joseph Biederman into primetime TV in the form the TV show Boston Legal

There is little time to watch TV on the Pharmalot corporate campus, but we were directed to a recent episode of ‘Boston Legal,’ that compelling drama about - what else? - a bunch of emotionally challenged lawyers, because there was mention of a recent pharma issue being investigated by the US Senate Finance Committee.

To wit, the committee is looking at alleged instances of undisclosed conflicts of interests involving academics who receive National Institutes of Health grants to research certain drugs and payments from drugmakers for consulting, research or speaking (back story). This is prominently noted by actress Candace Bergen, along with other matters such as pharma ties to the FDA, Congress and doctors, in a speech to a jury about a woman who suffered a heart attack after taking a drug…


(To watch, please go to this link and click on season 5, episode 6, and skip to about 27 minutes into the program, although it can take awhile to load and you may need to install a plug-in).

Psychiatrist arrested

As reported in the Edison/Metuchen Sentinel

Apsychiatrist at a behavioral health center in Edison was arrested on Oct. 17 on the belief that he inappropriately touched one of his patients.

The suspect, Chowdhury M. Azam, a 54-year-old Monmouth Junction resident, was charged with criminal sexual contact, a fourth-degree crime. Criminal sexual contact is described in the state legal code as "intentional touching by the victim or actor, either directly or through clothing, of the victim's or actor's intimate parts for the purpose of degrading or humiliating the victim or sexually arousing or sexually gratifying the actor."

The arrest was made the same day the alleged victim filed a report with the Edison Police Department. Following the filing, the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office Sex Crime/Child Abuse Unit and the Edison Police Department embarked on a joint investigation, eventually leading to Azam's arrest.

Azam has been a licensed psychiatrist with Compass Behavioral Health, located on Pierson Avenue. According to authorities, it is alleged that the psychiatrist inappropriately touched one of his patients on one occasion. The New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners, the regulatory agency that licenses medical professionals, was informed of Azam's arrest.

According to police, Azam has been released on $50,000 bail set by Municipal Court Judge Craig Coughlin.

Authorities have not released details regarding the alleged victim's age or gender.

Authorities are currently seeking more information about the matter. Anyone with information regarding this investigation, or incidents similar in nature is encouraged to contact Investigator Raj Chopra of the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office Sex Crimes/Child Abuse Unit at 732-745- 3600, or Detective Michael Michalski of the Edison Police Department at 732-248- 7525 anytime day or night.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Psychiatrist charged with touching patient inappropriately

As seen in this report from Middlesex County in New Jersey

An Edison psychiatrist has been charged with criminal sexual contact after he allegedly touched one of his patients inappropriately, authorities said Tuesday.

Chowdhury M. Azam, 54, is accused of touching the patient on one occasion and was arrested on Friday, Oct. 17, after the alleged victim reported the incident to Edison police, Middlesex County Prosecutor Bruce Kaplan said in a news release.

The Monmouth Junction resident is a licensed psychiatrist at Compass Behavioral Health on Pierson Avenue in Edison, the prosecutor said.

Edison police received the complaint on Friday and investigated with the Sex Crime and Child Abuse Unit in Kaplan's office before arresting Azam.

Probable cause for the complaint against him was the statement of the alleged victim, Kaplan said. The news release did not specify where and when the alleged incident occurred, nor did it indicate the age of the victim.

Azam was released on $50,000 bail. Kaplan's office said it has notified the New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners of the arrest.

Reached by phone Tuesday evening, Azam said he had been advised by his attorney not to speak about the case.

"The only thing I can say about this is that I'm not guilty and that this is a false allegation,'' he said. "That's all.''

He referred all other questions to his attorney, Steven D. Altman, who is based in New Brunswick.

Kaplan said anyone with information about this investigation, or similar incidents is encouraged to contact Investigator Raj Chopra of the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office Sex Crimes/Child Abuse Unit at 732 745-3600, or Detective Michael Michalski of the Edison Police Department at 732-248-7525.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Lawsuit blames scientist's suicide on psychiatrist

As seen in this report

The widow of a former Los Alamos physicist who took an overdose of sleeping pills blames the death on the Santa Fe psychiatrist who treated him, according to a recent lawsuit.

Stanford P. Lyon was pronounced dead on March 7, 2007, two days after he was found unconscious with an empty bottle of Ambien nearby, according to the complaint filed in state District Court Wednesday on behalf of Patricia C. Lyon.

According to the wrongful-death complaint, psychiatrist Will L. MacHendrie began treating Stanford Lyon for depression and bipolar disorder after he took an overdose of Elavil and Triavil and slashed his wrists in early 1986. Lyon was institutionalized twice in 1998, it says.

In early 2007, Stanford "Lyon began to suffer increased anxiety, insomnia, depression and pessimism," the complaint says. It says he saw MacHendrie four times that February to say he was "terrified," unable to sleep and his concentration was "fragmented."

MacHendrie prescribed Ambien, Zyprexa, Symbyax, Cymbalta, Willbutrin and Exelon, the complaint says, but Stanford Lyon told MacHendrie "he desperately wanted to be placed back on Elavil for treatment of his depression."

On Feb. 28, 2007, Stanford Lyon called MacHendrie to say he was having anxiety, insomnia and "burning hands," the complaint says. Over the next few days, it says, Lyon's panic attack continued, and on March 4, 2007, according to MacHendrie's notes, he spent 20 minutes explaining to Lyon how to use the sleeping medications.

The next day, Patricia Lyon found her husband unconscious and without a pulse. The cause of death was determined to be multiple drug toxicity, resulting from a lethal overdose of Ambien and excessive amounts of Elavil, the complaint says.

The complaint says MacHendrie failed to properly assess Stanford Lyon's condition, to recognize he was a suicide risk, to conduct a suicide assessment, to control his intake of medications, to recognize the dangers of the medications, to have him hospitalized and to warn Patricia Lyon about the medications her husband was taking. This means MacHendrie breached his duties and was negligent, "proximately causing Mr. Lyon's death," it says.

Stanford Lyon, who was in his late 60s, was a physicist who worked in weapons design and materials science for Los Alamos National Laboratory, according to online records.

MacHendrie did not respond to a message seeking comment Friday. Santa Fe lawyers Mark Ish and William Winter, who filed the complaint on behalf of Patricia Lyon, seeking unspecified compensatory damages, funeral and burial expenses, also were unavailable for comment.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Are Antidepressant Drugs Actually Worth Taking? A psychologist says secret corporate documents show how ineffective the drugs really are.

As Seen in Discover Magazine

"Initial Severity and Antidepressant Benefits: A Meta-Analysis of Data Submitted to the Food and Drug Administration" by Irving Kirsch et al., published online on February 26 in PLoS Medicine.

Irving Kirsch no longer sends patients to seek out antidepressants. "As a clinical psychologist," he says, "I used to refer patients to colleagues who were psychiatrists to get these medications." But his research over the years has soured him on the drugs, suggesting they work only marginally better in the average patient than a placebo pill. Kirsch recently analyzed the numbers behind a multitude of studies to answer the question: Do
antidepressants work?

For the analysis, Kirsch and his colleagues were reluctant to rely solely on published drug trials. Those that get published, other researchers have found, tend to show medications in a more positive light than trials that go unpublished. To circumvent that influence, known as "publication bias," Kirsch's team used the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to solicit records from the Food and Drug Administration. That gave them access to data from all manufacturer-sponsored trials of the six antidepressants approved between 1987 and 1999—including some trials the manufacturers had never published.

Even then, the data did not reflect everything the researchers would have liked to know. For two of the drugs, for example, there was no indication as to how much the average patient's symptoms improved during treatment. So the researchers ignored those drugs and focused on the other four—fluoxetine (Prozac), paroxetine (Paxil), enlafaxine (Effexor), and nefazodone (formerly sold in the United States as Serzone). In all, they analyzed 35 trials, each of which involved a group of patients who took a placebo and at least one group who took one of those four antidepressants. Kirsch's team considered how sick each group of patients had been before treatment, how much they improved during treatment, and whether they'd gotten a real drug or an inert pill.

Just as one would hope, taking an antidepressant typically improved a person's depressive symptoms, the trials showed. But so did taking a placebo. In fact, the overall difference between medication and placebo was so small that it was "clinically insignificant" for all but the most depressed patients, Kirsch says, a point that was consistent with his past findings. Moreover, antidepressant therapy improved symptoms by the same degree in both mildly and moderately ill patients. "There seems little evidence to support the prescription of
antidepressant medication to any but the most severely depressed patients," says Kirsch, "unless alternative treatments have failed to provide benefit."

In the end, the researchers found that most patients who take antidepressants may glean little from them other than a placebo effect. However, the initial severity of a patient's depression did influence the placebo effect. Placebos seem to help very depressed patients less than they help those with moderate symptoms. As a result, says Kirsch, antidepressants proved substantially more effective than placebos in — and only in — trials involving the most down-and-out patients. Blair Johnson, a social psychologist at the University of Connecticut in Storrs and co-author, recommends that doctors look at all of the alternative therapies—including psychotherapy, exercise, light therapy, omega-3 fatty acid supplements, and various others — first for all but the most depressed patients.

Even if the drugs are effective, you would expect these results because the majority of depressed patients do not get better on the first antidepressant they are prescribed, say numerous critics including members of the pharmaceutical industry and physicians. Darrel Regier, the American Psychiatric Association's director of research, says this is probably why so many patients did not improve significantly. If the unresponsive patients had been tested on two or three antidepressants back-to-back, say critics of this analysis, then more improvement would have been seen.

Moreover, critics say a study like Kirsch's should focus on how many individual patients improve with treatment, not whether the average improvement is clinically significant. By averaging outcomes, the study dilutes some patients' large improvements with others' unchanged symptoms. "That's true," says Kirsch, but if some people improve more than the average, he says, some must improve less—or even be harmed. "Medications have side effects," he says. "One of the side effects [of antidepressants] is increased risk of suicide."


• More prescriptions are dispensed for antidepressants—232.7 million nationwide in 2007—than for drugs of any other type, according to the data firm, IMS Health.

• U.S. sales of antidepressants totaled $11.9 billion in 2007, IMS Health reports.


Sunday, October 05, 2008

Top Psychiatrist Didn’t Report Drug Makers’ Pay

From a much longer report in the NY Times

One of the nation’s most influential psychiatrists earned more than $2.8 million in consulting arrangements with drug makers from 2000 to 2007, failed to report at least $1.2 million of that income to his university and violated federal research rules, according to documents provided to Congressional investigators.

The psychiatrist, Dr. Charles B. Nemeroff of Emory University, is the most prominent figure to date in a series of disclosures that is shaking the world of academic medicine and seems likely to force broad changes in the relationships between doctors and drug makers.

In one telling example, Dr. Nemeroff signed a letter dated July 15, 2004, promising Emory administrators that he would earn less than $10,000 a year from GlaxoSmithKline to comply with federal rules. But on that day, he was at the Four Seasons Resort in Jackson Hole, Wyo., earning $3,000 of what would become $170,000 in income that year from that company — 17 times the figure he had agreed on.

The Congressional inquiry, led by Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, is systematically asking some of the nation’s leading researchers to provide their conflict-of-interest disclosures, and Mr. Grassley is comparing those documents with records of actual payments from drug companies. The records often conflict, sometimes starkly.

“After questioning about 20 doctors and research institutions, it looks like problems with transparency are everywhere,” Mr. Grassley said. “The current system for tracking financial relationships isn’t working.”

The findings suggest that universities are all but incapable of policing their faculty’s conflicts of interest. Almost every major medical school and medical society is now reassessing its relationships with drug and device makers.

“Everyone is concerned,” said Dr. James H. Scully Jr., the president-elect of the Council of Medical Specialty Societies, whose 30 members represent more than 500,000 doctors.

[. . .]

For all his fame in the world of psychiatry, Dr. Nemeroff has faced ethics troubles before. In 2006, he blamed a clerical mix-up for his failing to disclose that he and his co-authors had financial ties to Cyberonics, the maker of a controversial device that they reviewed favorably in a journal he edited.

The Cyberonics paper led to a bitter e-mail exchange between Dr. Nemeroff and Claudia R. Adkison, an associate dean at Emory, according to Congressional records. Dr. Adkison noted that Cyberonics had not only paid Dr. Nemeroff and his co-authors but had also given an unrestricted educational grant to Dr. Nemeroff’s department.

“I can’t believe that anyone in the public or in academia would believe anything except that this paper was a piece of paid marketing,” Dr. Adkison wrote on July 20, 2006.

Two years earlier, unknown to the public, Emory’s conflict of interest committee discovered that Dr. Nemeroff had made more serious blunders, including failing to disclose conflicts of interest in trials of drugs from Merck, Eli Lilly and Johnson & Johnson.

His continuing oversight of a federally financed trial using GlaxoSmithKline medicines led Dr. Adkison to write Dr. Nemeroff on July 15, 2004, that “you must clearly certify on your annual disclosure form that you do not receive more than $10,000 from GSK.”

In a reply dated Aug. 4, Dr. Nemeroff wrote that he had already done so but promised again that “my consulting fees from GSK will be less than $10,000 per year throughout the period of this N.I.H. grant.”

When he sent that letter, Dr. Nemeroff had already earned more than $98,000 that year from GlaxoSmithKline. Three weeks later, he received another $3,844.56 for giving a marketing talk at the Passion Fish Restaurant in Woodbury, N.Y.

From 2000 through 2006, Dr. Nemeroff earned more than $960,000 from GlaxoSmithKline but listed earnings of less than $35,000 for the period on his university disclosure forms, according to Congressional documents.

Sarah Alspach, a GlaxoSmithKline spokeswoman, said via e-mail that “Dr. Nemeroff is a recognized world leader in the field of psychiatry,” and that the company requires its paid speakers to “proactively disclose their financial relationship with GSK, and we believe that healthcare professionals are responsible for making those disclosures.”

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Psychiatrist faces review in wake of massacre - Hearing to decide competency of Toronto doctor who treated man who killed his wife and children

As seen in the Globe and Mail. Edited for Space

The competency of a Toronto psychiatrist who was treating Chau Huc Minh at the time he massacred his family in 2006 is under scrutiny by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario.

The College has scheduled a hearing to determine whether the psychiatrist - Dr. Hung-Tat Lo - is competent to continue practising in light of his actions in the Chau case and 15 other unspecified cases.

The main complaint behind the hearing appears to be one lodged last year by Mr. Chau's sister, Jenny Chu. Ms. Chu alleged that Dr. Lo refused her plea to have Mr. Chau sent to a hospital for an assessment and possible treatment on Jan. 6, 2006. Five weeks later - on Feb. 9, 2006 - Mr. Chau used a meat cleaver to inflict fatal injuries on his wife, Shao-Fang, his three-year-old daughter, Vivian, and his five-month-old baby, Ivan.

A CPSO document states that its disciplines committee will decide whether Dr. Lo "failed to maintain the standard of practice and is incompetent in his care and treatment - including, but not limited to - his assessments, diagnoses, treatment and record-keeping, of 15 patients whose identities have been made known to Dr. Lo, between about July, 1983, and July, 2007."

It said the probe will also consider whether Dr. Lo displayed "a lack of knowledge, skill or judgment or disregard for the welfare of his patients of a nature," to the point that his practice should be restricted or terminated.

In the meantime, Dr. Lo has been told to submit sample medical charts and other patient information at least once every two weeks to a doctor appointed by the College to monitor his work.

CPSO spokesman Jill Hefley said in an interview yesterday that a complaint is referred to a disciplines hearing only if there has been a determination that "reasonable and probable cause" exists to believe it may be well founded.

Ms. Chu complained that she told Dr. Lo that her brother's behaviour had grown alarmingly erratic. "I was concerned that he might hurt his two young kids and wife" she said in her complaint. "Therefore, I urged Dr. Lo to send him to hospital with detailed descriptions of his strange behaviour."


Upon leaving Dr. Lo's clinic that day - Jan. 6, 2006 - Ms. Chu claimed that she tried to coax her brother to go straight to the hospital. She said that Mr. Chau became furious, and said: "Even Dr. Lo said that I was okay. Why must you make me go to a hospital?"

Mr. Chau was found not criminally responsible in the killings earlier this week by a Toronto judge.

According to a transcript from Mr. Chau's 2007 preliminary hearing, Dr. Lo denied that Ms. Chu asked him to admit her brother to hospital at the Jan. 6, 2006, meeting. Dr. Lo acknowledged that he saw Mr. Chau for just 140 minutes during the 12 years that he treated him. However, Dr. Lo, who stated he sees 15-20 patients a day, said that he didn't see it as necessary to spend more time with Mr. Chau.

Dr. Lo's office was closed this week, and he did not return telephone messages.

Peter Lindsay, Mr. Chau's defence lawyer, expressed misgivings yesterday about the quality of care his client was given. "The compelling story here is that Dr. Lo sees him so little. If you do the math, he saw him for just over 11 minutes a year. I'm not a doctor, but I think that's far short of what he should be seeing this guy."


Other victim

Chau Huc Minh was not the first of psychiatrist Hung-Tat Lo's mentally ill patients to explode into violence.

In 2004, two years before Mr. Chau's killing rampage, a 36-year-old Chinese immigrant, Xuan Peng, drowned her four-year-old, autistic baby in a bathtub at her Scarborough home.

She had been under Dr. Lo's care at the time.

According to a 2005 bail ruling that freed Ms. Peng pending her first-degree murder trial, Dr. Lo was treating her for a bipolar disorder at the time that her daughter, Scarlett, drowned.

The presiding judge at the bail hearing was Ontario Superior Court Judge David McCombs.

He was persuaded to grant Ms. Peng bail partly based on testimony from Dr. Lo, who said that she was capable of being managed in the community and agreed to supervise her treatment.


Police arrested Ms. Peng seven months after Scarlett's death. Last March, she was found guilty of second-degree murder, notwithstanding her history of mental illness.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Antidepressants may damage male fertility

As reported via Reuters

Common antidepressant drugs may reduce some men's fertility by damaging the DNA in their sperm, according to scientists.

A study of 35 healthy men given paroxetine - sold as Paxil or Seroxat by GlaxoSmithKline - found that, on average, the proportion of sperm cells with fragmented DNA rose from 13.8 percent before treatment to 30.3 percent after just four weeks.

Similar levels of sperm DNA damage have been linked to problems with embryo viability in couples trying to have children. The research by Peter Schlegel and Cigdem Tanrikut of the Cornell Medical Center in New York was reported in New Scientist magazine and is due to be presented in November at a meeting of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

A copy of the study abstract was made available to Reuters.

"The fertility potential of a substantial proportion of men on paroxetine may be adversely affected by these changes in sperm DNA integrity," the experts concluded.

The study adds to concerns voiced by the same doctors in 2006, after finding that two men had developed low counts of healthy sperm following treatment with two different selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

SSRIs like Paxil/Seroxat and Eli Lilly's Prozac, both of which are now available generically, are the most commonly prescribed class of antidepressant.

Glaxo said it was reviewing the investigators' findings, since the study was not conducted by the company.

"These medicines remain an important option, in addition to counselling and lifestyle changes, for treatment of depression and this study should not be used to cause unnecessary concern for patients," a spokeswoman said.

"Patients should discuss their situation with their doctor before stopping use of their medicine."

Allan Pacey, Senior Lecturer in Andrology at the University of Sheffield, said the apparent increase in sperm DNA damage was "alarming", although he noted the level at which damage becomes clinically significant was open to debate.

"It is a shame that the authors appear not to have conducted a randomised controlled trial which would be the most scientific way to investigate the drugs effects, but I agree that the results are of concern and need to be investigated further," he said.

SSRIs have long been known to depress libido in some men and previous research has also found that women taking the medicines are more likely to have a low birth weight baby.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Welcome to Chemical

As posted as an introduction on Chemical

This website provides scholarly information on mental health topics of interest to helping professionals, as well as to the general public. We focus primarily on two controversial areas in the field of mental health. First, we examine the popular notion that depression and anxiety are caused by an imbalance of neurotransmitters which is corrected by antidepressant medication. Second, we discuss the influence of the pharmaceutical industry on psychiatric research. We also cover related topics, such as consumer advertising of psychiatric medications, clinical trial research, and media coverage of these issues.

The information on this site is for educational purposes and does not constitute medical advice. If you take psychiatric medications, please be aware that stopping them suddenly can be dangerous. Please consult with your prescribing physician regarding all treatment decisions.
We welcome them to the discussion.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

William Hamilton Ayres Watchdog Site

We now have a blog devoted to tracking the declining career William Hamilton Ayres

William Hamilton Ayres is a "noted" former child psychiatrist who now stands accused of molesting many young boys over the course of his long career. For those not familiar with the case, click on career milestones below the mugshot.

William Hamilton Ayres

Career Milestones

Great Background Article!

Another Good Background Article

Ayres' California Medical License

2003: Ayres Sued - Confidential Settlement

04/06/2007: Arrested

04/12/2007: Prohibited from practicing.

04/13/2007: In Jail Again.

07/24/2008: Trial in January 09

William Ayres: Unmitigated Gall

Time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping...

America, Your Kids Are Over-Medicated

As seen on Scientific Blogging

American children are approximately three times more likely to be prescribed psychotropic medication than children in Europe, according to a new study published Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health. The study claims that the differences may be accounted for by regulatory practices and cultural beliefs about the role of medication in emotional and behavioral problems.

Julie Zito led a team of researchers from the USA, Germany and the Netherlands who investigated prescription levels in the three countries. She said, "Antidepressant and stimulant prevalence were three or more times greater in the US than in the Netherlands and Germany, while antipsychotic prevalence was 1.5 to 2.2 times greater".

The use of antidepressants, like Prozac, and stimulants, like Ritalin, in children has been the subject of a great deal of controversy and this study quantifies the differences in practice between the US and Western Europe. The authors claim that the differences may be partly due to different diagnostic classification systems, "The US trend of increasing bipolar diagnosis in children and adolescents does not reflect European practice".

The authors also mention government cost restrictions in Europe, the larger number of child psychiatrists per capita in the US and the use of two or more different psychotropic drugs in a single year in US children as possible explanations.

Zito concludes that, "Direct to consumer drug advertising, which is common in the US, is also likely to account for some of the differences. The increased use of medication in the US also reflects the individualist and activist therapeutic mentality of US medical culture".

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Health Ranger challenges drug companies to a $10,000 Health and Fitness challenge.

Think prescription drugs make you healthy? In this video, the Health Ranger challenges drug companies to a $10,000 Health and Fitness challenge.

His challenge of finding someone on 8 life quality enhancing drugs over the course of a year might be hard to do. There might not be anyone out there, realistically. (but give it ten years)

But his point of healthy living as a cure for many things is not off base.

Doctors would love to find an anti-depressant as effective as exercise, for example.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Reporting Dr. Feel Good

The DEA has a new web site to report all the Dr. FeelGood Psychiatrists, etc.

It's the Office of Diversion Control. To Turn in pharmaceutical pill pushers confidentially CALL 1-877-RX-abuse DEA

This site has a list of arrests of these Dr FeelGood Clones complete with the name and charges that the doctor was settled with.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Placebo Effect In Depression Treatment Much Larger Than Previously Thought

From a study in the August Journal of Psychiatric Research, seen via the Furious Season Weblog. here is the Abstract of the Paper

Our objective was to assess the persistence of the placebo response during at least 12 weeks of continued placebo administration in depressed patients who have responded to 6–8 weeks of acute placebo treatment. We identified 8 placebo-controlled antidepressant trials with a total of 3063 depressed patients in which, after acute phase placebo treatment, placebo was continued for more than 12 weeks. The number of patients entering the continuation phase and percentages relapsing during this phase were determined.

Based on the total number of patients entering the continuation phase 79% of placebo responders remained well (did not meet relapse criteria) during this phase compared to 93% of antidepressant responders.

Although significantly more patients on placebo than on antidepressants relapsed in the continuation phase, 4 out of 5 placebo responders stayed well. The widely held belief that the placebo response in depression is short-lived appears to be based largely on intuition and perhaps wishful thinking.
As one commentator noted
"So yeah, people on drugs did a bit better, but about 4 in 5 people taking a freaking sugar pill were still doing well in the long-term. Anyone still want to seriously argue that the vast majority of the antidepressant effect is not the placebo effect?"

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A La Mesa psychotherapist surrendered her counseling license amid allegations that she coerced an 8-year-old rape victim into falsely identifying her

From the San Diego Union-Tribune of March 21, 1996, via

A La Mesa psychotherapist facing state disciplinary hearings has surrendered her counseling license amid allegations that she coerced an 8-year-old rape victim into falsely identifying her father as the attacker. Kathleen King Goodfriend was accused by government regulators of being "grossly negligent or incompetent" in her treatment of the child, Alicia Wade.

The California Board of Behavioral Science Examiners said that "pressure" by Goodfriend over a period of 13 months finally led the girl to falsely accuse her father.

As a result, her father, James Wade was arrested, charged and faced 16 years in prison. Alicia was nearly placed for adoption. Alicia's mother, Denise Wade attempted suicide. Authorities overlooked DNA evidence which proved the father had not assaulted his daughter and disregarded a suspect already convicted of attacking other girls in the neighborhood.

More info available via the LA Times

Monday, September 01, 2008

Lawsuit: Priest's therapist molested boy

Report From the Boston Globe

The church therapist who treated a Vermont Roman Catholic priest accused of molesting boys later became the target of a Massachusetts lawsuit alleging he, too, engaged in sex acts with a boy for nine years, beginning when the boy was 9.

The Rev. Thomas Kane of Whitinsville, Mass., was executive director of the House of Affirmation in Whitinsville. That's where the Diocese of Burlington sent the Rev. Edward Paquette to be treated after learning Paquette had molested two boys in Rutland.

Court papers in Vermont and Massachusetts indicate the dates of Kane's alleged abuse of the Uxbridge, Mass., boy -- 1968 to 1977 -- coincide with the period from 1974 to 1978 that Paquette was being treated, for much of the time via monthly visits, at the House of Affirmation.

There's no evidence that officials in the Vermont diocese, including then-Bishop John Marshall, were aware of Kane's alleged sexual misconduct during the period he was providing therapy to Paquette.

Kane's alleged victim filed suit in Suffolk County Superior Court in Boston in 1993; the case settled out of court two years later for $42,500. The Associated Press does not identify alleged victims of sexual abuse.

Nineteen lawsuits have been filed in Vermont alleging that Paquette molested boys while serving as a priest in Burlington, Montpelier and Rutland in the 1970s. Four have ended with jury verdicts or been settled out of court and 15 are pending.

Church records in Vermont show that Marshall knew Paquette had a history of molesting boys at parishes in Massachusetts and Indiana, but allowed him to join the Vermont diocese after being told by a church psychiatrist in Indiana that Paquette's problem had been cured.

Kane also provided a positive review of Paquette's progress in therapy. "It is my opinion that Father Paquette should return as soon as possible to a parish setting and observe the signals of caution which we have discussed," Kane wrote to Marshall on Nov. 6., 1974.

Another exchange of letters between Kane and Marshall in 1978 showed new allegations of sexual misconduct were being directed at Paquette.

Marshall wrote to Kane that he was considering leaving Paquette in his role as parish priest at Christ the King Church in Burlington despite the new allegations.

"Despite the demands of two sets of irate parents that 'something be done about this,' Father Paquette's pastor and I are determined to take the risk of leaving him in his present assignment," Marshall wrote to Kane on April 4, 1978.

"Our thinking is that, knowing the awareness of others concerning his problem, Father Paquette will have reason for 'self control'," the bishop added. "Do you agree with this thinking?"

Kane replied, "I do agree with your thinking. I do not believe it is 'too risky' to leave Father Paquette in his present assignment but, of course, can make no predictions."

Later that month, increased pressure from parents in the parish forced Marshall to change his mind. He wrote to Kane, "The situation had become so explosive that I had no other recourse but to ask Father Paquette to leave the parish immediately."

No telephone listing could be found Sunday for Edward Paquette at his last known address in Westfield, Mass. A message left at the headquarters of the Diocese of Worcester, which includes Whitinsville, was not immediately returned Sunday. News reports from 2002 placed Kane in Mexico.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Psychiatrist reprimanded, placed on probation for 'unprofessional and unethical conduct.'

Report from the Charleston Gazette, out of West Virginia

A South Charleston psychiatrist has been publicly reprimanded by the state Board of Medicine and placed on probation for three years after he allegedly carried on an inappropriate personal relationship with a patient through telephone conversations, e-mail and text messages.

Dr. Russ Voltin, who also works as co-medical director of the forensic evaluation unit at South Central Regional Jail, denied any sexual contact with the patient.

Voltin said the former patient concealed her identity from him, according to a consent order filed last week by the medical board.

The patient, whose name was not disclosed, alleged the online relationship with Voltin lasted from 2004 to 2007. The Board of Medicine started investigating the complaint in March 2007.

The board concluded that Voltin took part in "unprofessional and unethical conduct." Medical board members voted to suspend Voltin's license for three years, but stayed the decision, allowing Voltin to continue to practice while on probation.

Voltin also was directed to see a board-approved psychotherapist who must submit reports on Voltin's mental health every four months.

In addition, the medical board ordered Voltin to attend medical ethics classes. The board vowed to revoke Voltin's license if he takes part in inappropriate contact with patients during the next three years.

Voltin, who became a state-licensed psychiatrist in 1989, works at PsyCare Inc. in South Charleston.

He serves as regional coordinator for forensic psychiatry and assistant professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine.

Voltin, 45, also has been a guest lecturer at WVU's law school. He was director of Thomas Memorial Hospital's psychiatric unit from 1994 to 2001.

Voltin did not return phone messages left at his South Charleston office Wednesday.

Psychiatrist reprimanded unprofessional and unethical conduct

Report from the Charleston Gazette, out of West Virginia

A South Charleston psychiatrist has been publicly reprimanded by the state Board of Medicine and placed on probation for three years after he allegedly carried on an inappropriate personal relationship with a patient through telephone conversations, e-mail and text messages.

Dr. Russ Voltin, who also works as co-medical director of the forensic evaluation unit at South Central Regional Jail, denied any sexual contact with the patient.

Voltin said the former patient concealed her identity from him, according to a consent order filed last week by the medical board.

The patient, whose name was not disclosed, alleged the online relationship with Voltin lasted from 2004 to 2007. The Board of Medicine started investigating the complaint in March 2007.

The board concluded that Voltin took part in "unprofessional and unethical conduct." Medical board members voted to suspend Voltin's license for three years, but stayed the decision, allowing Voltin to continue to practice while on probation.

Voltin also was directed to see a board-approved psychotherapist who must submit reports on Voltin's mental health every four months.

In addition, the medical board ordered Voltin to attend medical ethics classes. The board vowed to revoke Voltin's license if he takes part in inappropriate contact with patients during the next three years.

Voltin, who became a state-licensed psychiatrist in 1989, works at PsyCare Inc. in South Charleston.

He serves as regional coordinator for forensic psychiatry and assistant professor at the West Virginia University School of Medicine.

Voltin, 45, also has been a guest lecturer at WVU's law school. He was director of Thomas Memorial Hospital's psychiatric unit from 1994 to 2001.

Voltin did not return phone messages left at his South Charleston office Wednesday.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Drug Companies – The New Sin Stocks

A column in the American Chronicle by John Carey

It is part of the American dream to put a dollar into a company stock today, and get lots of dollars back when you sell. The only modifier to this dream by some is an aversion towards "sin" stocks – avoiding companies that make alcohol, cigarettes, pornography, guns or provide gambling.

But when I suggest that you pitch drug-companies into this same sin-bucket you probably think I´m joking. But I´ll let you in on my reasoning, which includes numerous lawsuits against the companies, lying by the company executives to market their drugs under false pretenses for profit´s sake, and drugs pushed on the public which knowingly harm more people with the side-effects than they ever help.

Side Effects

All drugs have side-effects! Taken for a short time to cure something worse, it is a beneficial exchange. But drug companies can´t make the huge profit for an antibiotic you take for two weeks as they can for a "mental-health" pill you take every day for the rest of your life!

With the first group of antipsychotics marketed, drug companies freed many people from the state hospitals. But one debilitating side-effect of these drugs (like Thorazine, Haldol and Prolixin) was that they caused involuntary, repetitive, and purposeless movements. In the 1990s, newer drugs called atypical drugs (like Clozaril, Zyprexa, Seroquel, Geodon and Risperdal) largely replaced the older meds and were marketed (at eight to twenty times the cost of the prior drugs) as causing fewer involuntary movements, but they have their own side-effects such as weight gain, diabetes and early death.

Tens of thousands of people sued Eli Lilly and AstraZeneca, saying that their drugs, Zyprexa and Seroquel, gave them diabetes and elevated blood sugar levels. Eli Lilly reports having paid $1.2 billion to settle over 30,000 lawsuits.

In 2008, Alaska sued Eli Lilly for the medical costs of Medicaid patients who developed diabetes while taking Zyprexa. One of Eli Lilly´s top executives sent an email encouraging Lilly to promote Zyprexa for a use not approved by federal drug regulators (known as "off label") and while doctors can prescribe a drug "off label", it is against federal law for a drug company to encourage this practice. Alaska settled with Lilly for $15 million and now other states are going after this legalized drug pusher. (Global sales of Zyprexa approached $4.8 BILLION in 2007.) Lilly also faces 1,200 cases as well as a federal probe over its marketing tactics.

Janssen's Risperdal got FDA approval to expand the use of the drug to address adolescent schizophrenia, the irritability of autism in kids and for bipolar disorder. In 2006, it was the most heavily prescribed psychiatric drug in New York´s Medicaid kids program, given to 17,393 children. It is also blamed in lawsuits nationwide for side-effects including diabetes caused by weight gain, Parkinson's-like movement disorders and gynecomastia, in which males grow breasts which have to be surgically removed.

The pharmaceutical companies have made astronomical profits since promoting the atypicals to treat mental disorders. Since the drug companies couldn´t claim that the atypicals were better than the old drugs, they paid doctors to say so. This brought about a widespread false belief that the newer medications were safer and worth the additional billions of dollars in taxpayer money to make these the states´ preferred drugs of choice. Since then, the life expectancy of people treated in community mental health centers has plunged to a point twenty-five years LESS than the average due to a higher incidence of cardiovascular disease as a side-effect of these drugs. (For comparison sake, being homeless cuts ten years off your life expectancy.) Chuck Areford said in a 2008 article titled "Antipsychotic Drugs are Doing Harm" that this "… must be ranked as one of the worst public health disasters in U.S. history."

Drugs Marketed Under False Pretenses

If you are the CEO of a company, a large part of your multi-million dollar compensation is tied to how well the stock does during your tenure. This has led the companies to promote their drugs much like the rest of Madison Avenue promotes cars or the latest perfume. However, while the brand of car you drive doesn´t adversely affect your health, which psych drug you take to hide your problems does.

The entire basis for the use of psychotropic drugs is a THEORY, not a fact! The media presents it as a fact that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance. However, even the psychiatric bible clearly states that the cause of depression and anxiety is unknown. Jeffrey Lacasse, a doctoral student co-authoring a study on this is quoted as saying, "… there are few scientists who will rise to its defense, and some prominent psychiatrists publicly acknowledge that the serotonin hypothesis is more metaphor than fact."

In 2006 4-year-old Rebecca Riley died of an overdose of psychiatric drugs that had never been approved or tested for children. She had been taking drugs for ADD and bipolar since she was two years old and died with four prescription drugs in her system. Her heart and lungs were damaged due to prolonged abuse of the prescription drugs.

Cheyenne Delp, a five year old, died in 2004 while on five prescription medications. One of the anti-depressants required that she undergo an EKG to determine if her heart was healthy enough for her to take it. The child psychiatrist, Dr. Saran Mudumbi, testified that Cheyenne was out of control and that she suffered from paranoia, depression and anxiety.

One of the main psychiatrists pushing treatment of children with psychatric drugs is Dr. Biederman who has financial ties with fifteen drug companies and serves as a paid speaker or adviser to half of them, including Eli Lilly & Co. (Zyprexa) and Janssen Pharmaceuticals (Risperdal).

A drug is approved by the FDA for narrow uses, but gets tried off-label on hard-to-treat conditions and the drug company´s sales force stokes up this usage until the research catches up years later that shows the initial enthusiasm was unfounded. With the limited schizophrenic and bipolar market for the atypicals, the drug companies marketed them as safer than their predecessors They came to be tried beyond the approved uses for nursing-home residents, prisoners, and children younger than six years old. Total U.S. sales for this class of drugs reached $13 billion in 2007, doubling the sales just five years earlier.

Research by three universities says long-term use of anti-psychotics offers "no long-term benefit for most patients." And while anti-psychotic medication is not licensed to treat dementia it is being given to 100,000 elderly patients in England to keep them manageable! Studies show that these drugs increase the risk of strokes and other harmful side effects. One study showed that after 3½ years, 60% of the Alzheimer´s patients given a placebo were still alive while only 28% of the group given the anti-psychotic medication were.

While an estimated 30-60% of U.S. nursing home patients are placed on antipsychotics, at the Bronx´s Providence Rest nursing home, the staff give massages to the patients. Utilizing this therapy, the nursing home has cut its use of antipsychotics to 2-3%, the lowest rate of any nursing home in New York!

The drug companies funded the committees which set up the state plans for defining which drugs to use for which treatments. Drug company profits then soared because the atypicals were listed as the first three choices over the older generic drugs. The states´ medical costs for patient care also soared! Now that the links to the drug company funding and the terrible side-effects have become known, nine states have sued Eli Lilly, four sued Janssen, and two sued AstraZeneca. Dozens of more states have teamed in a joint investigation, seeking billions of dollars in restitution for money they say they overpaid for atypicals through Medicaid.

In Minnesota alone, since 2002, drug companies have given $88 million in gifts, grants and fees to Minnesota doctors and caregivers. Several states, including Pennsylvania, are suing some drug makers for promoting their drugs beyond approved uses and commissioning "ghost-written" articles to increase sales

Drug companies fund and support front groups like NAMI and CHADD and programs such as TeenScreen, in order to create a demand for their products covertly. These groups may not promote drugs directly but rather they promote disorders, legitimizing mental illnesses that have never been validated as true medical diseases. Drug companies cannot make these claims directly but accomplish the same goal through these other groups and programs. TeenScreen, an invention of psychiatrist (with drug company connections) David Shaffer, is a screening program asking children as young as 9-years-old questions like, "Have you often felt very nervous when you´ve had to do things in front of people?" and "Are you Hispanic or Latino?" Based on their answers, TeenScreen refers them to mental health "professionals", who inevitably decide that these children have symptoms defined as "mental disorders", writing prescriptions for antidepressants and other psychotropic drugs for children with no objective medical testing. TeenScreen´s staff and advisory board are loaded with ties to Big Pharma.


TeenScreen´s Director, Laurie Flynn was formerly at the helm of NAMI, which received over 11 million dollars in drug company funding from ´96 to ´99: Janssen ($2.08 million), Novartis ($1.87 million), Pfizer ($1.3 million), Abbott Laboratories ($1.24 million), Wyeth-Ayerst Pharmaceuticals ($658,000), Bristol-Myers Squibb ($613,505) and Eli Lilly $2.87 million.

In 2008 researchers using the Freedom of Information Act, dug out information on Prozac that shows it is no more effective than a placebo! The study included clinical trials that Eli Lilly chose not to publish when they studied the drug. The data showed that patients had improved - but those on the placebo improved just as much! (The only exception was in the most severely depressed patients.) 40 million people take this drug, earning tens of billions of dollars for Eli Lilly.

Is it the same sin to give capital to Playboy as it is to molest a woman? That is a question that only you can decide (with perhaps help from your pastor), but it doesn´t take much of a leap to imagine someone viewing porn and then going out and committing rape. You aren´t on the corner selling crack but you are just as guilty if you gave the crack dealer $10,000 to finance his supply.

Who knows what potentials for bad hearts, mis-wired brains and early deaths these drug companies have caused our society in their profit-search for a daily-pill-solution to what ails us? If putting money ahead of people´s lives and preying on those needing real help doesn´t make you a sin company, I don´t know what does.

So whether you now agree that pharmaceutical company stocks belong in the sin-stock category, or you simply believe that there are just too many liabilities for these companies to be good investments, either reason is enough to remove them from your portfolio forever.

Neither the author of this article nor his family will profit financially in any manner from drug stocks losing value