Whenever a doctor cannot do good,
He must be kept from doing harm.
Author’s Note: This article contains a conversation with a practicing psychiatrist
In the formula above—Bullying + Lying = Fear + Complying—the psychiatrist is the link between two entities; the pharmaceutical companies that engage in bullying and misinformation and the consumers who respond with fear and compliance. This is a formula for disaster, more so now that drug companies and their consortia—TransCelerate and the Massachusetts Neuroscience Consortium—have partnered with European companies to form a mega-consortium. The goal of this world-wide enterprise is to expand the superhighway that connects research for new drugs to clinical trials and then to production and distribution. Again, the target population is very young children, teens and their fearful parents.
An informative article in Nature Biotechnology states that “the biotech investment community needs to look beyond the existing pools of funding and talent to galvanize biomedical innovation.” The article is about commercializing biomedical research. The language used in this article supports the drug companies’ expanded search for funds, new drugs, and cheaper and faster strategies. “Megafunds “ is one term used along with the provocative statement “US investors and companies can partner with investigators in emerging economies to translate their discoveries.”
In other words, wealthy American investors are going to underdeveloped countries for cheaper research and development of new drugs. In this article the importance of funding the research is central and lucrative sources are identified as “university-based venture funding, limited liability holding company funding and state government funding to spread the risk.”
The role that the prescribing psychiatrist, pediatrician other pediatric specialists have to play in this scheme is that parents and other child-care individuals are to a great extend dependent on these trusted, authoritarian professionals to be informed and acting in the best interest of the child, the family, the community and society. They are the green light on the superhighway and are expected to be basing their treatment on the research and the scientific evidence that has been carefully collected, tested and is safe and effective for the people that they treat. Unfortunately there are grave problems with the research.
Another example of the kind of article that elevates my concern about the research for and treatment of adolescents and children with medications is Evidence-Based Practice in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, by K Hoagwood, PhD. The author states that “many medication choices and algorithms continue to be based on the experience of the individual practitioner or on standards of care for adults, with some notable exceptions” and concludes:
“Prescription rates for psychotropic medications for children are increasing even among very young children. Despite the widespread use of these medications, surprisingly few randomized controlled studies have been conducted; Many medication choices and algorithms continue to be based on standards of care for adults.”
The author also points out that laboratory studies on children and adolescents differ from real world situations and need to be “adapted” to clinics, schools, and diverse environments.
“The central problem is that treatments that have been validated in efficacy studies cannot be assumed to be effective when implemented under routine practice conditions.”
Therefore, the evidence in evidence-based research is not applicable to the adolescent and child population.
Based upon my escalating concerns about the drug companies’ increasingly broad and deceptive reach I had a candid conversation with a practicing psychiatrist who works with young adolescents in a mental health clinic in Los Angeles. The clinic is multi-funded (Federal medical, State, and a bit of nonprofit funds) and sees hundreds of teens mostly from group homes. These teens all have psychiatric diagnoses, and most are on medication. The conversation went as follows:
Writer: “Have you read any of the articles that I asked you to look at on Mad in America?
Psychiatrist: “That’s the anti-psychiatrist site? I looked at it.”
Writer: “Have any thoughts about the information there?”
Psychiatrist: “Are these the same people that are against vaccinations for kids?”
Writer: “No.” (I go on to explain the purpose of MIA as an open forum for discussion…)
Psychiatrist: “Oh.” He looks completely disinterested at this point.
Writer: “What do you think about giving meds like Latuda and Risperdal to the younger population?”
Psychiatrist: “We don’t give them to everyone who comes in!”
Writer: “Do you think there is a profit motive for drug companies that are pushing these and the newer meds at this time?”
Psychiatrist: “Margaret! There is greed in every area of society. Just think of old people who are having their money basically stolen in that Annuity racket. Think of what the banks did. It’s everywhere!”
Writer: “Are you comparing that to giving drugs to children? Drugs that effect their emotional and physical well-being? “
Psychiatrist: He is silent for a time and then repeats; “There is greed everywhere.”
This is the end of the Conversation. He is clearly angry with me at this point and I can only hope that he thinks about what we discussed.
I sit a bit longer at the coffee shop after my “friend” leaves. I watch a two-year-old have a temper tantrum, and she is very good at it. She looks like she has practiced the moves and her parents are clearly overwhelmed. They are following the 10-step strategy to stop meltdowns, and it isn’t working. Everyone is staring at them. My daughter-in-law calls in tears to inform me that our pre-teen grand-daughter is irritable; she is mean to her brother, she ignores her parents, she yells and cries at the drop of a hat, she argues constantly, and this is going on constantly. I am asked for advice, for guidance, and then my words are dismissed as she Googles the issue. Our six-year-old neighbor has a doctor’s appointment today; according to his mom he’s too preoccupied with “making things” out of pieces of paper and string and he likes to play alone. She’s been on the internet and the information on autism and sensory “disorder” scared her, and so now it’s “off to the doctor.”
These youngsters are at risk. It is not the children who are frightened, desperate and vulnerable to being coerced… it’s the parents. They are, in fact, in a perfect position to be set on a pathway that may well lead to pain and long-lasting disaster.
We all need to be aware – and alarmed – by the reality that we are vulnerable to being bullied by the powerful drug companies and their partners in psychiatry. Fear, of course, usually leads to attempts to escape a fearful situation. However, fear for the well-being of kids may produce a different and positive reaction when accurate information is at hand. This, and the knowledge that this information is going into good hands and minds, is the goal of the articles that I write.
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.