“Antipsychotic Medication for Children Could Have Lasting Effects, Research Suggests”

Neuroscientists have just released the results of a study on the long-term use of antipsychotic drugs in children. The growing brain adapts to the drugs, which block receptors, by creating more receptors, which can lead to more symptoms, including hyperactivity, depression, and anxiety, according to the study author, Michael De Santis. "[This] would then cause an opposite effect of what the drugs were used for," he said.

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“Florida Doctor Pleads Guilty to Fraud — Years After Complaints About His Prescribing”

Charles Ornstein at ProPublica reports on how long it took regulators to take action against the top prescriber of antipsychotic drugs in Florida’s Medicaid program. “Questions about the doctors’ prescribing were first brought to light by Ken Kramer, a private investigator in Clearwater, Florida, who runs a website that compiles public records on psychiatrists. He complained to Florida’s Medicaid fraud unit in 2007 that Mendez-Villamil appeared to be prescribing a disproportionate amount of the antipsychotic Abilify to children.”

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Abolishing Forced Treatment in Psychiatry is an Ethical Imperative

Forced treatment in psychiatry cannot be defended, neither on ethical, legal or scientific grounds. It has never been shown that forced treatment does more good than harm, and it is highly likely that the opposite is true. We need to abolish our laws about this, in accordance with the United Na­tions Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which virtually all countries have ratified.
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Many Foster Kids Are Still Being Prescribed Antipsychotic Drugs

Many experts expressed concern when the rate of antipsychotic prescriptions to children in foster care showed a rapid increase, peaking in 2008, and new recommendations and policies have tried to curb the use of these drugs. While the rate has plateaued, a new study points out that the “new normal” prescription levels are still dangerously high. The data reveals that almost one in ten children in foster care are currently being prescribed antipsychotic drugs with dangerous side-effects, many for diagnoses like ‘ADHD’ and disruptive behavior.

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Air Pollution Linked to Mental Health Problems in Children

A new study, published in BMJ Open-Access this week, found a significant link between the level of air pollution in a community and the mental health of the children living there. After controlling for socio-economic status and other potential variables, researchers in Sweden discovered a strong association between the concentration of air pollution in a neighborhood and the amount of ‘antipsychotic’ and psychiatric drugs prescribed to children. The link remained strong even at pollution levels well below half of what is considered acceptable by the World Health Organization (WHO).

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NBC’s ‘Bitter Pill’ To Cover Antipsychotic Overmedication

As part of NBC's 'On Assignment' series reporter Kate Snow took a closer look at the prescribing of antipsychotic drugs "off-label" to children. The story focuses on Steven Francesco, a former drug company executive whose son died suddenly while taking antipsychotics. Originally planned to air on Sunday, June 12th the episode is now being rescheduled.

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The Evidence-Based Mind of Psychiatry on Display

Earlier this year, Ronald Pies and Allen Frances wrote a series of blogs that collectively might be titled: “Why Robert Whitaker is Wrong about Antipsychotics.” In regard to reviewing the “evidence” on that question, Pies did most of the heavy lifting, but he also told of drawing on the expertise of E. Fuller Torrey, Joseph Pierre and Bernard Carroll. Given the prominence of this group, it could be fairly said that Pies’ review reflects, to a large degree, the collective “thoughts” of American psychiatry. And with that understanding in mind, therein lies an opportunity, one not to be missed.
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Review Links Antipsychotics with Risk for Heart Attacks

A systematic review published this week in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology found that patients taking antipsychotic drugs were at nearly twice the risk of a heart attack compared to non-users. "Our findings provide important information about the safety of antipsychotic drugs," Bing Ruan, a lead author of the study, wrote. "Clinicians should prescribe them only for patients with a clear need."

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Daughter of a Psychiatrist

Here I was, 15 years old and already in a long-term treatment facility. I was, on paper: crazy! This entire time, all the adults in my life had been speaking for me. I never felt like I was any of the things they said, but I went along with it. What else could I have done? Every time I rebelled, it only confirmed to my mother what she thought of me.
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Olanzapine Can Cause Serious Skin Reaction, FDA Warns

The US FDA has issued a new warning for the atypical antipsychotic Olanzapine, also known by the brand names Zyprexa and Symbyax. The agency warns that new evidence shows that the drug can lead to a rare but serious skin condition known as Drug Reaction with Eosinophilia and Systemic Symptoms (DRESS). The condition can be progressive and can lead to the injury of internal organs and even death. There are currently no specific treatments for DRESS.

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“FDA Rejects Creepy Abilify Surveillance Pill”

The FDA has rejected the drug/device combination designed to monitor patient adherence with Abilify from Otsuka Pharmaceutical and Proteus Digital Health. Just last week the FDA issued an additional warning that Abilify (aripiprazole), an atypical antipsychotic, could lead to compulsive and dangerous behaviors.

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FDA Warns About New Impulse-Control Problems Associated With Abilify

Yesterday, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) released a warning that the antipsychotic drug aripiprazole or Abilify is associated with compulsive and uncontrollable urges. Research suggests that the drug may cause urges to gamble, binge eat, shop, and have sex but that the urges often stop when the drug is withdrawn or the dose is reduced.

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“What Drug Ads Don’t Say”

For the New York Times, Cornell psychiatrist Richard Friedman proposes new regulations to make direct-to-consumer drug ads reveal the relative price and effectiveness information that is currently hidden. “Drug companies might legitimately complain that there are many reasons a drug might fail to outperform a placebo besides ineffectiveness: quirks in the design of a trial; patients who were not typical of those with the disease; a dosage that was too low. But then the company should be happy to explain this to the public, since the goal is education, right?”

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Unhelpful Utterances: 6 Comments We Should No Longer Hear From Mental Health Professionals

Professionals are paid to share their wisdom with those who are, typically, less informed. But, when dealing with mental health professionals in the psychiatric arena, it is wise to retain a degree of skepticism about the words spoken by the doctors and nurses commissioned to help reduce human misery and suffering.
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“B.C. Care Homes Provide Antidepressants Without Diagnoses”

New data reveals that the majority of care homes in British Columbia, Canada are giving out prescriptions for antidepressants and antipsychotics without a diagnosis. According to a report by the Times Colonist, “there are a whopping 54 homes in which 40 percent of the residents are taking antipsychotics without a diagnosis.”

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“Antipsychotics May Boost Early Death Risk in Parkinson’s”

As we have reported at MIA, new research indicates that Parkinson's disease patients who are given antipsychotics to treat dementia and psychosis may be more likely to die early.

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Antipsychotics Increase Mortality Risk in Patients with Parkinson’s Disease

A new study in JAMA Neurology finds that the use of antipsychotic drugs more than doubled the risk of death in patients with Parkinson’s disease. Use of antipsychotics is common in Parkinson’s patients who exhibit symptoms of dementia or psychosis, and the researchers call for increased caution when prescribing these drugs and for the development of non-drug approaches to managing psychiatric symptoms.

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Dr. Pies and Dr. Frances Make a Compelling Case that Their Profession is Doing Great Harm

Over the past two months, Ronald Pies and Allen Frances, in response to a post I had written, wrote several blogs that were meant to serve as an “evidence-based” defense of the long-term use of antipsychotics. As I read their pieces, I initially focused on that core argument they were presenting, but second time through, the aha moment arrived for me. Their blogs, when carefully parsed, make a compelling case that their profession, in their use of antipsychotics as a treatment for multiple psychotic disorders, has done great harm, and continues to do so today.
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Life, Unarmed

When I was born, everyone was expecting me to have arms. The doctor’s mind raced; how am I going to tell this mother and the father that their son has hands but not arms? If he’s missing so much in his extremities, mustn’t he also be missing a mind? My mom looked into my eyes and knew – in a way that only mothers know – that I had a mind, and spirit.
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“‘They’re Waking Up’: Reducing Drugs for Dementia Patients Yields Dramatic Results”

Canada's Global News reports that "A couple of years after a national initiative began to reduce the use of anti-psychotic medication, some people are saying the move has had an even more positive effect in Alberta than first expected ... 'Lots of teams said, ‘We didn’t realize how much pain [patients] might have been in, and so they were acting out, or having these responsive behaviors' ... 'So when we took down the antipsychotics and gave them more Tylenol … their behaviours are way calmer.'”

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“Psychiatrist Gets 9 Months for Accepting Kickbacks from Drug Firm”

Chicago Psychiatrist Michael Reinstein received a sentence of nine months in prison for taking an estimated $600,000 in kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies in exchange for prescribing their drugs to patients. Reinstein dangerously prescribed the antipsychotic Clozapine to thousands of elderly patients in area nursing homes and hospitals. “At one point in the early 2000s, he was the largest prescriber of Clozapine to Medicaid recipients in the county,” the Chicago Sun Times reports.

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New Study Examines Successful Discontinuation of Antipsychotics

A new study to be published in the next issue of Schizophrenia Research examines patients suffering from a first-episode of psychosis who stop taking any antipsychotic drugs. The researchers attempt to identify variables that may predict the successful discontinuation of antipsychotics. They find, for example, that those who discontinue the drugs have, on average, the same outcomes as those who stay on them, and that those who have better social integration are more likely to discontinue without relapse.

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New Research into Antipsychotic Discontinuation And Reduction: the RADAR programme

For a long time I have felt that there just isn’t a good enough and long enough study on the pros and cons of long-term antipsychotic treatment versus reduction and discontinuation in people who have psychotic disorders, including those who are classified as having schizophrenia. Moreover, there are increasing reasons to be worried about the effects of long-term treatment with antipsychotics. I put this case to the UK’s National Institute of Health Research recently, and proposed that they fund a trial to assess the long-term outcomes of a gradual programme of antipsychotic reduction compared with standard ‘maintenance treatment.’ The NIHR agreed that this was an important issue, and that a new trial was urgently needed. The RADAR (Research into Antipsychotic Discontinuation And Reduction) study officially started in January 2016.
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Testifying in Vermont: Forced Drugs

Vermont Governor Shumlin recently suggested a change to state law that would accelerate the process under which a person could be forced to take antipsychotic drugs against her will. The House Human Services Committee reviewed this proposal and I was asked to testify. What follows are my comments.

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“Antipsychotic Linked to GI Side Effects”

A new study found that patients treated with the antipsychotic clozapine experienced gastrointestinal side-effects. “The study findings may help explain morbidity and mortality from GI complications (eg, bowel obstruction) related to clozapine therapy.”

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