I was minding my own business, drinking a large cup of coffee in fact when I chanced upon a story May 8th in the USA Today. “WASHINGTON (AP) — Wrigley says it is taking a new caffeinated gum off the market temporarily as the Food and Drug Administration investigates the safety of added caffeine.” I spit up. Really? Major Tranquilizers, Amphetamines, Benzodiazepines, and Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors have all been approved by the FDA for the treatment of so-called “mental illness.”
These drugs are being prescribed to youth, some as young as 3 and 4 years of age. My Big League Chew is more dangerous than Uncle Jim’s Seroquel or my big brother’s Adderall? I asked my nephew if he could sell my double pack of Big Red at college for the same kind of cash he’s getting for his “extra” Ritalin. He laughed and said, “No way, that stuff will kill you!”
Glancing at my Java suspiciously, I read on. “Michael Taylor, FDA’s deputy commissioner of foods, said Wrigley’s decision to stop production for now “demonstrates real leadership and commitment to the public health.” Guh! Where is the “real leadership” and “commitment to the public health” of Big Pharma? Where’s the FDA’s concern for documented, life-threatening, life-altering “side effects” (really just drug effects) of psychiatry’s magic bullets?
Feeling queasy now and a little light headed I attempted to finish the article, “Major medical associations have warned that too much caffeine can be dangerous for children, who have less ability to process the stimulant than adults. The American Academy of Pediatrics says it has been linked to harmful effects on young people’s developing neurologic and cardiovascular systems.” UGGGH! Through the nose this time. What’s the AAP say about the harmful effects of Concerta, Depakote, Trazadone and Risperdal on young people’s “developing neurologic and cardiovascular systems”?
If you really think caffeinated gum is more dangerous than the currently prescribed drugs to treat “mental illnesses” this piece isn’t for you. If you agree with me that this theater of the absurd is too much, grab your Double Mint and comment below.
Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.