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.”
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.
LAW360 reports that a Pennsylvania federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit over a movement disorder attributed to Bristol-Myers’ drug Abilify. The judge held that drug makers are not required to provide detailed instructions to physicians about monitoring adverse reactions.
Thirty years ago, the prescription of neuroleptic drugs to children under 14 years of age was almost unheard of. It was rare in adolescents, and even in adults was largely confined to individuals who had been given the label schizophrenic or bipolar. By 1993 about a quarter of 1% of the national childhood population were receiving antipsychotic prescriptions during office visits. The percentage for adolescents was about three quarters of 1%. By 2009, these figures had increased to 1.83% and 3.76% respectively. The devastating effects of these neurotoxic drugs are well known, and it is natural to wonder what forces might be driving this trend. Full Article →
Law 360 reports that Johnson & Johnson asked a Pennsylvania judge to keep a series of clinical studies related to the drug Risperdal under seal, saying that the plaintiffs were improperly seeking to publicly release them.
For a scathing, 11-minute overview of the death of Dan Markingson at the University of Minnesota, and new allegations of coercion into psychiatric clinical trials, you can’t do much better than this excellent investigative report by Jeff Baillon. Full Article →
Following Johnson & Johnson’s record $2.2 billion settlement for criminal marketing — including $1.4 billion related to its marketing of Risperdal, making it one of the largest fraud settlements involving a single drug — two academics who contributed to an article that helped sell the drug are expressing concerns about their participation. The paper included an error that cut young boys’ projected risk of developing breasts by half.
Research from London and Taipei finds that neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS) is associated with the number of different antipsychotics used (polypharmacy), rather than the overall dose. The researchers also found an association between NMS and Haldol, Abilify, benzodiazepines, and depot flupentixol. A correlation between NMS and non-white ethnicity was also found.
If I had remained med compliant I wouldn’t understand the simple joys of caring about my hygiene and my surroundings. I’ve wanted to write about this for a long time but I’ve not done it and I think it’s because I still have shame around how slovenly I became. I hid it from others fairly well most of the time, but I couldn’t hide it from myself. The fact is the drugs stripped me of some very basic elements of human care. When one doesn’t care about their immediate environment and their bodies, they really just don’t care about themselves. It’s a very painful place to be and yet when it’s caused by drugs it’s all muted and weird and not really who we are at all and so really all that is left is horrible shame. Full Article →
“My studies in this area lead me to a very uncomfortable conclusion: Our citizens would be far better off if we removed all the psychotropic drugs from the market, as doctors are unable to handle them. It is inescapable that their availability creates more harm than good.”
- Peter Gøtzsche, MD; Co-founder of the Cochrane Collaboration
Sources for Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime: How Big Pharma Has Corrupted Health Care:
At least 250 lawsuits involving Johnson & Johnson’s improper marketing of Risperdal are pending in Pennsylvania’s Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, according to information provided by a law firm involved in the litigation. The firm, which represents individuals who may have developed gynecomastia (male breast growth) as a result of the drug, alleges that the unapproved use of Risperdal to treat ADHD is also on the rise.
When I lived in Massachusetts I taught yoga and led writing groups for alternative mental health communities. While the organizations I worked for were alternative, many of the students and participants were heavily drugged with psychiatric pharmaceuticals. There was one skinny teenager I’d never have forgotten who listed the drugs he was on for me once in the yoga room after class: a long list of stimulants, neuroleptics, moods stabilizers; far too many drugs and classes of drugs to remember. I was at the housewarming party of an old friend, and who should walk in but that boy who used to come to my yoga classes and writing groups religiously. And he was no longer a boy; he was now a young man. “I’m thinking yoga teacher,” he said. I nodded. Did he remember where? “I’m not stupid,” he said, as if reading my mind. “I’m not on drugs anymore. I’m not stupid anymore.” Full Article →
A Texas man filed a lawsuit in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas against Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiary, Janssen, in connection to the development of female breast tissue that he alleges was caused by Risperdal and Invega.
The whistleblowers who helped to build the case for prosecuting Johnson & Johnson for illegal marketing of Risperdal will take home nearly $168 million of the $2.2 billion the company will pay. Judith Doetterl stayed undercover for nine years while the case played out. ”Here’s a 34-year-old woman with a tremendous job, putting her career on the line and wearing a wire, all in order to do the right thing,” said Doetterl’s lawyer.
Following Johnson & Johnson’s $2.2 billion settlement for off-label marketing and kickbacks related to its antipsychotic Risperdal, Pennsylvania legislators Brandon Neuman and Tony DeLuca are renewing their push for a Pennsylvania version of the False Claims Act. Whistleblowers in three states will collect $167.7 million under the federal False Claims Act, they say, while Pennsylvania remains the largest state in the union without such a law. “Pennsylvanians lose as much as $200 million a year through Medicare and Medicaid fraud and abuse,” according to Neuman, “Our Pennsylvania False Claims Act legislation … would go a long way toward deterring this dishonesty.”
The American Journal of Psychiatry explores the implications for science and ethics of the rising placebo response rate in trials of antipsychotic drugs, in an editorial prompted by this an article in November’s issue, the “largest and most comprehensive meta-analysis to date of the phenomenon of increasing placebo response.”
Johnson & Johnson and its subsidiaries will pay more than $2.2 billion – one of the largest health-care fraud settlements in history – to settle criminal and civil liabilities arising from marketing of Risperdal and its injectable version, Invega, for uses not approved by the FDA. J&J admitted to inappropriate promotion of Risperdal to treat elderly, non-schizophrenic patients for symptoms such as anxiety, agitation, depression, hostility and confusion. ”The conduct at issue in this case jeopardized the health and safety of patients and damaged the public trust,” said Attorney General Eric Holder.
Sandra Steingard writes in Community Psychiatrist about Lex Wunderink’s study, published in the August JAMA Psychiatry, which found that people who discontinued medication have much higher rates of functional remission and full recovery. She also notes the work of Martin … Full Article →
The recent incident in the grounds of Washington Capitol, involving a young educated woman, brought shock to many people. It was another opportunity to blame a victim of mental illness and demand further restraint and medical attention for such individuals. Yes, we are lacking dignified, caring, discerning and attentive treatment for those whose spirits are broken. But we certainly don’t suffer from a lack of medical treatment for such individuals. It is time for policy-holders, and our scientific community to ask the ‘heretical’ question; “Could the drugs be the culprit behind the violence?” Full Article →
Miriam Carey, who was shot and killed yesterday by D.C. police after she attempted to drive through a White House barricade with her 1-year-old child in the back seat, had antidepressant medication and antipsychotics in her apartment. The drugs were apparently for the treatment of postpartum depression. Relatives and co-workers, stunned by Carey’s behavior, describe her as having no history of violence, and as “always happy.”
“For drugs designed for a relatively small number of very disturbed patients, antipsychotics are now among the most profitable drugs in the world, just behind statins and on a par with diabetes medications… But only a minority of these prescriptions will have been for schizophrenia, suggests the evidence – antipsychotics are no longer used only to treat severe mental disturbance, but have broken into the mainstream” writes Joanna Moncrieff for the Daily Mail. ”Other senior psychiatrists share my reservations about the value of expanding the definition of bipolar disorder so widely. The editor of the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry has described it as ‘bipolar imperialism’, while journalist Robert Whitaker sums up the recent history of antipsychotics like this: ‘Behind the public façade of medical achievement is a story of science marred by greed, death and the deliberate deception of the American public.’”
First episode psychosis (FEP) and duration of untreated psychosis (DUP) remain the foci of great numbers of early intervention programs in Western countries. “Untreated” in DUP-anese is synonymous with unmedicated, which often creates a sense of urgency and a myopic fixation on getting these youth started on anti-psychotics and keeping them on. What is the impact of this medical model and its accompanying chemical imbalance narrative on these emerging adults? How often does it set them on a course of regained functioning and restored hope, or does it serve as a gateway into a lifetime of disability and discouragement? Full Article →
The American Psychiatric Association, as part of the American Board of Internal Medicine’s “Choosing Wisely” initiative, released new practice guidelines yesterday that advise against prescribing two or more antipsychotics concurrently, using antipsychotics as a “first choice” for treating behavioral symptoms of dementia, as a “first-line intervention for insomnia”, or as a “first line intervention for children and adolescents for any diagnosis other than psychotic disorders.”