December 12, 2013
Rep. Tim Murphy, a former psychologist, introduced the “Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act” to congress today, a bill aimed at stopping violence perceived to be associated with mental illness. The bill seeks to establish court-ordered “assisted outpatient treatment” as an alternative to inpatient care, among other measures aimed at increasing the availability of mental health care. ”This legislation would eliminate initiatives that promote recovery from serious mental illnesses,” said Daniel Fisher, M.D., Ph.D., a founder of the National Coalition for Mental Health Recovery. “Because hospitalization is far more expensive and has far worse outcomes than these effective, and cost-efficient, community-based services, this bill would cost more money for worse outcomes. Even worse, the bill greatly promotes stigma and discrimination by its unfounded and damaging connection between mental illness and violence.”
December 12, 2013
Consumer Reports writes that the number of children prescribed antipsychotics has tripled over the last 10 to 15 years, despite a lack of evidence that the drugs are either effective or safe for either approved or unapproved (“off-label”) uses, such as behavioral problems. “What’s not known about the long-term effects is very troubling,” said an assistant professor at Tufts University School of Medicine. “The younger you go, the more you can affect the developing brain.”
December 11, 2013
On Monday the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Pfizer’s appeal of a $142 million award to the Kaiser Foundation for illegal marketing of Neurontin. The ruling allows cases involving millions of off-label prescriptions to move forward. According to plaintiffs, internal Pfizer documents and emails show the company knew the drug was not effective for the marketed purposes, and referred to it as “the ‘snake oil’ of the twentieth century.” According to Pfizer the decision, which did not require proof that the company’s marketing affected prescriptions by individual doctors, could lead to “an unlimited escalation in RICO and related cases against pharmaceutical companies for off-label promotion using the shortcut of aggregate proof.”
December 10, 2013
The Washington Post yesterday published an article by MIA blogger Sandra Steingard, titled “A Psychiatrist Thinks Some Patients are Better off Without Antipsychotic Drugs.” In it, she describes reading Robert Whitaker’s Anatomy of an Epidemic, saying “If Whitaker was right, everything I had been doing for 20 years was wrong. I have spent much of my time rereading the articles and studies he cites, looking for others, talking to colleagues and reading as much criticism of his work as I can find. And what I concluded is that Whitaker is probably right.”
December 9, 2013
A featured article in the British Medical Journal relates the perspective of FDA investigator Thomas Marciniak, who says “Drug companies have turned into marketing machines. They’ve kind of lost sight of the fact that they’re actually doing something which involves your health . . . You’ve got to take away the key components of the trials from drug companies.” 1 boring Old Man reflects further on the implications for psych drugs.
December 7, 2013
Counsel for ex rel Watson v. King-Vassel - Psychrights’ latest effort to show that prescribing medication for children that is not supported by scientific evidence constitutes fraud when submitted for Medicaid reimbursement – has chosen to settle the case rather than proceed. This decision came in light of the judge’s indication that he was planning to issue rulings that would prevent the case from prevailing. and that he would impose sanctions if counsel chose to go forward with the case.
December 6, 2013
The Cannabis and Psychosis Awareness Project, a four-year study from Canada that was released on Tuesday, finds that smoking marijuana – particularly heavy use in early adolescence – is associated with a 40% increased risk of psychosis. Youth with a family member identified as having a mental illness are 4x more likely to develop psychosis if they use marijuana, the study says. 50 young Canadians who participated in the study created the video Awareness Strategy for Youth.
Other Recent News
December 3, 2013
From The Unbounded Spirit, which ”was created with the sole purpose of providing valuable and interesting information that will provoke its readers to get into a creative thinking process,” an article that asks whether the DSM’s categorizing of nonconformity and freethinking as mental illnesses leads to “a chilling picture for those of us who are noncomfomists.”
December 3, 2013
An NPR blog critiques the reliability of a study that found an increased risk of schizophrenia diagnosis among left-handers.
November 30, 2013
Under Canada’s Mental Health Act (MHA), police respond to anonymous calls expressing concern about a person’s mental health, often leading to that person’s detainment without a lawyer. This is the story of Gordon Stewart, whose struggles with Canada’s tax service provides “a seminal example of how MHA apprehensions can be easily prompted and steered by anger, fear, gossip, incomplete facts, falsehoods, and highly subjective interpretations— making the MHA a dangerous interpersonal weapon.”
November 29, 2013
Allen Frances adds to his catalog of DSM-5 mistakes with the return of the controversial – and ultimately rejected – “Psychosis Risk Disorder”, under a new name; “Attenuated Psychosis Syndrome.” Under the new name, insurance companies can be billed for an ‘Other Specified Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorder/Other Psychotic Disorder.’ “It makes absolutely no sense to pin the misleading and stigmatizing label ‘Other Specified Schizophrenia Spectrum Disorder’ on someone who, in typical settings, will have only about a 10% chance of ever becoming psychotic,” says Frances, “And certainly it makes no sense to follow this misdiagnosis with an unproven and potentially very harmful antipsychotic treatment. Preventing psychosis would be a great idea if we could really do it; but there is no reason to think we can. And reaching beyond our grasp is likely to harm those we hoped to help.”