Instead of hope and enthusiasm for their futures, too many children now grow up believing they are inherently defective, and controlled by bad genes and biochemical imbalances. They are shackled by the idea that they have ADHD and then subdued by the drugs that inevitably go along with the diagnosis. Unless something intervenes, many of them will go on to pass their days on Earth in a drug-impaired, demoralized state.
A jury decided Johnson & Johnson must pay a Philadelphia man $2.5 million in damages "for failing to warn that its Risperdal antipsychotic could cause gynecomastia, which is abnormal development of breasts in males," reported WSJ Pharmalot. More →
There are no proven treatments of any kind for children or adolescents experiencing psychosis or schizophrenia, according to a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized comparison trials published in PLOS One. More →
People who take antipsychotic medications experience a wide range of side effects, many of which have "major disruptive impact on their lives," according to research in the Journal of Mental Health Nursing. The most common complaint was of a "zombie-like" sedation. More →
Back in 2006, when my son Franklin was in his late twenties and living in a group home in the Boston area, he refused to take Clozaril any more because of the required bi-weekly blood draws. His doctor prescribed Zyprexa as a substitute, and Frank suddenly began to gain weight … a lot of weight. Later, I would learn that UCLA psychiatrist Dr. William Wirshing had said of Zyprexa prior to its 1996 approval by the FDA: “It is just un-stinkin’-believable. It is the best drug for gaining weight I’ve ever seen.” The doctor indicated that taking ten milligrams of the medication was equivalent to ingesting 1,500 extra calories per day. My outrage knew no bounds.
ProPublica has provided an update on their investigation of Dr. Michael Reinstein. "A former Chicago psychiatrist who was the nation's top prescriber of the most powerful and riskiest antipsychotic drug intends to plead guilty to a federal felony charge of taking kickbacks from its manufacturer in exchange for prescriptions," stated ProPublica. More →
An ex-chief of the US Food and Drug Administration has testified in a Philadelphia lawsuit that Johnson & Johnson knew as early as 2001 that its popular antipsychotic medication Risperdal (risperidone) would "probably or very likely" cause as many as 3.8% of boys who took it to grow breasts, reported FiercePharma. More →
A study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that elderly people taking antipsychotics are significantly more likely to experience falls and fractures, and a second study found that the frequency of falls in the elderly are increasing in the US. A third study published in General Hospital Psychiatry found that people with schizophrenia are more likely to experience falls and fractures -- and the researchers noted that the scientific literature has "consistently highlighted antipsychotic medication" as an important risk factor for fractures. More →
Food and Drug Administration-approved information and public advertisements frequently mislead the public about the actual neurodegenerative risks from second-generation antipsychotics, according to an article in the American Journal of Public Health. More →
The Division of Clinical Psychology of the British Psychological Society published a paper titled Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia. The central theme of the paper is that the condition known as psychosis is better understood as a response to adverse life events rather than as a symptom of neurological pathology. The paper was wide-ranging and insightful and, predictably, drew support from most of us on this side of the issue and criticism from psychiatry. Section 12 of the paper is headed “Medication” and under the subheading “Key Points” you’ll find this quote: “[Antipsychotic] drugs appear to have a general rather than a specific effect: there is little evidence that they are correcting an underlying biochemical abnormality.”
Educating psychiatrists about appropriate prescribing guidelines for patients with schizophrenia did not reduce the incidence of inappropriate prescribing, according to a study in Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology. In addition, educating the same psychiatrists and patients about healthy lifestyle habits did not reduce levels of obesity in the patients. More →
First generation antipsychotics seem to cause general brain volume loss, while second generation antipsychotics seem to both increase and decrease the thickness of different parts of the brain, according to a study led by University of Melbourne researchers published in Psychological Medicine. And the effects on the brain, they found, are noticeable within a matter of months of beginning to take the medications. More →
Too many studies of atypical antipsychotic medications are still not meeting even the minimum scientific standards of the internationally agreed-upon CONSORT guidelines for drug trials, according to a study in Psychological Medicine. The frequently poor trial designs and methods are "potentially impeding the progress of research on antipsychotic efficacy," stated the team from the Kings College London Institute of Psychiatry. More →
I live in the quiet backwoods of a country where the general public talks very little about what it’s like to hear voices, where most people who admit to hearing voices are drugged into submission, and where I can’t learn much from anyone else’s experience, because we haven’t yet learned that we can get together and talk about it. But I’ve changed, and so have my voices, and now we seem to be able to negotiate a little, and I discovered this when I had to deal with The Counter and his attempt to intrude on my mind with his otherwise useful discipline.
Elderly people in Sweden are five times more likely to be taking antipsychotics if they have a diagnosis of dementia, according to research published in Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica. And among those people with dementia, the lower their education the higher the likelihood they're taking antipsychotics. More →
More than half of the prescriptions for antipsychotic drugs in the UK are being issued "off-label" to treat conditions other than those for which the drugs are approved, according to a large study published in the British Medical Journal Open. Researchers also found significantly higher levels of prescribing of the medications to poorer people. More →
ProPublica is well known for creating interesting data bases that allow anyone hooked up to a computer to see by name whether a physician is accepting Big Pharma payments — from dinners to speaking engagements to consulting services. What may be lesser known is that occasionally ProPublica will publish other data that when carefully mined can reveal even more about the use of psychiatric drugs especially when there is a public funding source available.
The US Food and Drug Administration is warning the public that the antipsychotic medication ziprasidone "is associated with a rare but serious skin reaction that can progress to affect other parts of the body" and can potentially be fatal. The widely used antipsychotic appears in generic forms and is also marketed under the brand name Geodon. A warning has been added to the drug's label. More →
The Chicago Tribune revisits the issues raised in the 2007 study led by Martin Harrow which found that many people diagnosed with schizophrenia fare better over the long term without the use of psychiatric drugs. More →
This week we launch Mad In America Continuing Education. It is an enormous privilege to be a part of this project and to proudly announce that the first course offering is a series of lectures by me on neuroleptic drugs. I review the history of the development of these drugs as well as their short and long term effects. I discuss what conclusions I have drawn from the data; I recommend that we need to work harder to keep people off these drugs or – if we use them – to minimize the dose and stop them as soon as possible. But there remain other pressing concerns for those individuals who are currently taking these drugs.
Robert Heinssen and Thomas Insel of the National Institute of Mental Health argue in Schizophrenia Bulletin that the balance of evidence does not support early intervention in psychosis. More →
Robin Williams had "therapeutic" levels of the tetra-cyclic antidepressant mirtazapine in his blood at the time of his suicide, according to the coroner's report on his death, posted in its entirety by TMZ. More →
NPR Shots discusses the plethora of new programs for early intervention for psychosis, with a focus on Ventura Early Intervention Prevention Services, operated by Alameda-based Telecare Corp. "VIPS is one of a handful of programs that have sprung up in California in recent years, based on a model developed in Maine by psychiatrist Dr. Bill McFarlane," reports NPR. More →
Since the 1960s, the positive response rates to antipsychotic medications have been dropping steadily, according to a meta-analysis published in JAMA Psychiatry by Columbia University and New York State Psychiatric Institute researchers. At the same time, the positive response rates to placebos have been increasing, and antipsychotic medications are therefore appearing less effective in comparison. This situation necessitates re-thinking how clinical trials are done, wrote the researchers, in order to overcome this appearance of ineffectiveness of antipsychotics. More →
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