Medication Overload, Part II: The Explosion of Drugs for Kids

Big Pharma’s toxic impact on Main Street America 

17
1990

In the early 1960s, around the age of two, I experienced an accidental overdose. 

The pediatric drug I took was most likely purchased by my father at our family grocery store, which was located in the heart of our village community. St. Joseph Aspirin for Children was a trusted brand in our home and at our store, especially since it claimed to be “recommended 4 to 1 over any other by Children’s Doctors” and carried the name of the patron saint of families. This product was kept not in our bathroom medicine cabinet, hidden behind a mirror, but rather in our kitchen where we stored our drinking glasses.

The incident occurred after one of my preschool-age siblings managed to use a kitchen chair to retrieve the tasty but very toxic medicine, open the bottle, and then give it to me believing the “candy medicine” would help their baby sister feel better.

The drug that nearly took my life as a toddler was intentionally formulated to taste like candy. After its release in 1947, St. Joseph Aspirin for Children was aggressively marketed to parents, relying heavily on newspaper and magazine ads. The success of the pediatric drug spawned competition and by the 1950s, low-dose, flavored aspirin was the most profitable drug for kids, far outselling its chief competitor, penicillin. However, the drug companies failed to warn consumers of the potential harm their products could cause—and as profits soared for the drug companies, “candy aspirin” poisoning among young children increased dramatically during the ’50s and ’60s.

Despite evidence of the dangerous nature of this product, along with mounting pressure from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and child safety advocates, the aspirin industry denied any negligence on their part and instead blamed the reported safety concerns on poor parenting. It was not until after the passage of the Poison Prevention Packaging Act of 1970 that safety measures were improved. By the mid-’70s, the use of child-resistant packaging was associated with a significant reduction in the aspirin-related child mortality rate. Nonetheless, many children accidentally overdosed, and some lost their lives because corporate interest focused on remaining profitable at all costs, even if those costs meant a parent losing a child. 

For anyone who pays attention to the behavior of Big Pharma, none of this should be surprising. As readers of Mad in America know, the potential harms of psychiatric drugs are too often swept under the table or outright ignored, even in the face of devastating statistics on deaths and other forms of iatrogenic harm. With the explosion of more and more drugs in cabinets across the country, more and more children are dying—but still, pharmaceutical companies push their products, leading to yet more drugs and yet more deaths.

Which is exactly what happened with children’s aspirin. After the improvement in packing, the negligence in the children’s aspirin industry continued. According to a 1992 analysis published in The Lancet, the deaths of almost 1,500 children who died of Reye’s syndrome may have been prevented if the government had not waited five years to require warning labels on aspirin. Although doctors had reached a consensus in 1982 that the use of aspirin in young children could cause Reye’s syndrome, government documents show that corporate lobbyists worked to delay regulations requiring warning labels.

Clearly, I was one of the lucky ones. The only reason I lived is I grew up in a small, tightknit, caring community—this was a village in Central New York, back in the 1970s—where people took responsibility for each other. But the only reason I even know about my own candy aspirin overdose is because I heard my father recount the incident many times. My father was a true craftsman in many arenas, including mastering the art of storytelling. His stories would command the attention of his audience, no matter how large or small, as he knew how to weave together the details of the past with humor, suspense, emotion and meaning. I especially loved hearing this story because my dad was one of the heroes involved in saving my life. But by the end of the story, my dad would always have a solemn look on his face, holding back tears, staring at the floor, slowing down his tone, he would shake his head and say he thought that I was “gone.” 

When the incident occurred, my panic-stricken mother told my father to take me to the hospital right away. My father quickly realized I would never make it there and instead drove straight to our family doctor, whose medical practice was also his home, just a few blocks away. Dr. Fulmer quickly pumped the drugs out of my stomach and told my father I would not have lived if he had tried to get me to the hospital. He was more than just a doctor to my father, he was a friend, a neighbor, a patron of our local grocery store—and a lifesaver.

The Main Street Connection

For those of us who had the privilege of growing up in Main Street America settings, the proverb, “it takes a whole village to raise a child” reflects a social reality too often absent in the culture at large, particularly in the Corporate America that holds sway in the pharmaceutical industry. Business owners on our Main Street held pride in their neighborhood and took on leadership roles within our community. The majority were family-owned businesses whose owners, like us, lived in the village and raised their families in the same community they operated. 

While I would never claim things were perfect, our village community did its best to take care of each other, especially our most vulnerable. Our village was established with a family-friendly infrastructure, having shops, schools, churches, medical doctors, dentists, attorneys, social clubs and municipal services all within walking distance. Community safety was a concern for all, and when the sirens at the fire station went off, our volunteer firefighters would leave their homes or their jobs to jump into action. Without hesitation, they would put their own lives at risk to run into a burning home and save the lives of their neighbor’s children.

Unlike the pharmaceutical industry, in our village community the pain of losing a single child was felt by all. 

Still, things weren’t perfect. Like most any community, people living in our village had their fair share of differences and disputes. And despite the clutch of small, caring businesses in town, one outlier made its presence known in ways we could not ignore. Living in our village could really stink—literally stink. The stench came from the smoke billowing out of the stacks from the largest business in our village by far, Bristol Myers Squibb. The pharmaceutical facility was built in 1943 and made 70% of the penicillin produced in the world.

Bristol Myers, along with the many other manufacturing plants located in the surrounding area, helped to grow and strengthen our local economy. Unfortunately, living with their pollution came with a price we all had to pay. Even after years of repeated warnings and paying millions in fines for violating federal regulations, the drug company displayed a lack of social responsibility and continued to discharge toxins into our waterways and air. 

By the mid-2000s, because of cheaper costs to manufacture penicillin in foreign countries, the plant downsized considerably. But across the country, the towering influence of corporate culture—mass production, mass marketing, mass consumerism, and profit-driven healthcare—has eroded our Main Street America culture and negatively impacted many aspects of our society, including consumer behaviors and the drugs we purchase at our doctors’ recommendation. The number of pharmaceutical products in the home today is unprecedented—and drugs, both legal and illegal, continue to be the leading cause of child poisoning. A review of poisonings among children age 5 and younger found that opioids were the leading cause of fatal poisonings between 2005 and 2018. Over-the-counter pain, cold, and allergy medications were the second most common substance contributing to pediatric poisoning deaths. 

The contents of most medicine cabinets in the US have changed a lot since the days of “candy aspirin” poisoning, with more drugs being prescribed to kids: In 2009, children became the leading growth demographic in the pharmaceutical industry. The use of off-label medications in children has become a common practice for pediatric providers, and psychiatric medications are now the fastest-growing class of pharmaceutical agents for children. 

The Devil Is in the Details

As seen in tragic cases such as that of Rebecca Riley and Gabriel Myers, pediatric psychiatry, polypharma, and off-label prescribing have no age restrictions. Rebecca started seeing a psychiatrist at the age of two and was diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and pediatric bipolar disorder. A nurse at Rebecca’s preschool warned her psychiatrist that Rebecca seemed overmedicated because she was so lethargic that she appeared like a “floppy doll.” After suffering horrible abuse, Rebecca died in 2006 from an overdose of psychiatric drugs. She was four years old. 

During her short life Rebecca was prescribed three medications to stabilize her mood: Seroquel, an antipsychotic; Depakote, an anti-seizure drug; and Clonidine, a blood pressure medication. Two months after Rebecca’s death, her parents were arrested and charged with first-degree murder. The circumstances surrounding Rebecca’s death led to Katie Couric’s segment on 60 Minutes, “What Killed Rebecca Riley?”—which questioned the rising cases of young children diagnosed with bipolar disorder. A wrongful death suit was also filed against her psychiatrist, Dr. Kayoko Kifuji. The civil case was settled in January of 2011 for $2.5 million. Prosecutors had already granted Dr. Kifuji immunity from criminal prosecution in exchange for her testimony in the trial of Rebecca’s parents.

The 2009 suicide death of 7-year-old Gabriel Myers prompted a statewide investigation into Florida’s foster care system, followed the Government Accountability Office conducting a federal investigation. In her series, “Generation Meds,” ABC World News anchor Diane Sawyer reported these findings: Many foster children, even as young as one year old, are being prescribed powerful mind-altering drugs at alarming rates—up to 13 times higher than that of other children. The investigations revealed thousands of children in foster care were prescribed psychiatric medications at doses higher than the maximum levels approved by the FDA. And hundreds of foster children received five or more psychiatric drugs at the same time despite absolutely no evidence supporting the simultaneous use or safety of this number of psychiatric drugs taken together.

Gabriel, a victim of sexual abuse, was seen briefly by a psychiatrist who prescribed him the ADHD drug Vyvanse along with Symbyax, a combination of the antipsychotic Zyprexa and the antidepressant Prozac. Symbyax carries a “black box” warning that it might lead to suicidal behavior among children and adolescents, especially when first prescribed. Gabriel’s psychiatrist, Dr. Sohail Punjwani, was later “sanctioned for over-prescribing medications to patients and for the age-inappropriate prescription of medications to Gabriel Myers.”

Pediatric anxiety is currently a condition that pharma giant AbbVie is now marketing their drug Lexapro to treat. As reported on MIA by Peter Simons, in May, the FDA expanded the prescribing of Lexapro to include kids as young as seven years old who need help because they feel nervous. This drug gained FDA approval for children even though it did not work any better than a placebo—and increased suicidality sixfold! 

The Lexapro prescribing information expects parents to limit their child’s activities and pay very close attention to how their child reacts to this drug. The drug company instructs parents to:

Have your child avoid tasks or actions that call for alertness until you see how this drug affects your child. These are things like riding a bike, playing sports, or using items such as scissors, lawnmowers, electric scooters, toy cars, or motorized vehicles.

The drug information packet also lists numerous adverse physical reactions, including life-threatening conditions, and has a “black box” warning regarding the increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in pediatric consumers. 

Therefore, the FDA, the drug company, and prescribers all expect parents to fully understand that a product they are purchasing to help their child cope with feeling nervous is, in fact, a very dangerous product that might not work at all or result in their child suffering a life-threatening adverse reaction. Or, worst of all, could cause their child to die by suicide. 

A “Safe and Effective Drug” That Leads to a Child’s Death

The 1999 filicide death of five-week-old Tyra E. truly epitomizes the callous nature of the pharmaceutical industry. Filicide is the deliberate act of a parent killing their own child. One study found such deaths occur about 500 times a year in the US, and researchers have different theories on why. In Tyra’s case, the cause was drug-induced. 

Ten days after Tyra’s father began taking the ADHD drug Adderall to help him with his college studies, he slipped into a psychotic fog, shot and killed his baby girl, and then shot himself in the stomach. The criminal court found Tyra’s dad innocent after expert testimony reported the “psychotic state” was caused by the Adderall.

I first learned of Tyra’s death from a small article that asserted: “Despite the slaying, Adderall remains a safe and effective drug.” That was the statement made by Shire Pharmaceuticals Group, the manufacturer of Adderall. While this case did not attract much media attention, those words hit me like a hurricane; exactly how many “slayings” need to occur before this product is deemed an unsafe and defective product?

At that time the internet was still in its infancy, and there was very little information available online about the court’s decision, so I went to the law library to learn more about the case and the drug company involved. Shire started out as a tiny company founded and funded in 1986 by four entrepreneurs in the UK. By 1997, their acquisitions facilitated access to the US drug market and the relaunching of Adderall. Their drug quickly became the fastest growing ADHD product in the US.

After Tyra’s death, her parents sued Shire for $100,000 to recover medical, legal, and funeral expenses. They claimed Shire failed to warn about the effects of Adderall and illegally marketed and advertised the drug. Their lawsuit was dismissed, as the court ruled a pharmaceutical manufacturer has a duty to warn a physician of the risks involved with a drug, and the physician acts as a “learned intermediary” between the manufacturer and the patient. “Thus, a warning to the physician is deemed a warning to the patient; the manufacturer need not communicate directly with all ultimate users of the prescription drugs.” So, even though Shire admitted their product caused a tragedy, they refused to accept any responsibility. And our courts sided with the drug company. 

Shire was later accused of violating the False Claims Act regarding the marketing and promoting of several products including Adderall. Among the allegedly unsupported claims was that Adderall would “normalize” its users, rendering them indistinguishable from their non-ADHD peers. The drug company also allegedly marketed its ADHD product based on unsupported claims that Adderall would prevent poor academic performance, loss of employment, criminal behavior, traffic accidents, and sexually transmitted diseases. In addition, Shire allegedly promoted Adderall for the treatment of conduct disorder without FDA approval. 

Shire agreed to resolve the civil allegations with a $56.5 million settlement. From the settlement, the federal government received $35,713,965, and state Medicaid programs received $20,786,034. The allegations arose from a lawsuit filed by Dr. Gerardo Torres, a former Shire executive, and a separate lawsuit filed by Anita Hsieh, Kara Harris, and Ian Clark, former Shire sales representatives. The lawsuits were filed under the False Claims Act’s whistleblower provisions, which permit private parties to sue for false claims on behalf of the government and to share in any recovery. Torres received $5.9 million. 

Follow the Money: Investors Banking on ADHD for All

For marketing purposes, the name Adderall was conceived from the contraction of the phrase “ADD for All” to intentionally convey the message that “it was meant to be kind of an inclusive thing.” Adderall has certainly lived up to its name. It continues to be a money-maker for pharmaceutical companies, with a whopping 41.4 million prescriptions dispensed in the US during 2021.

The drug is a formulation of amphetamine mixed salts, and the active pharmaceutical ingredients for production are primarily produced in China and India. Currently, Israel-based Teva Pharmaceutical Industries is the largest supplier of Adderall for the US. Shire has since been bought out by Japan’s Takeda Pharmaceuticals, a 242-year-old company that made the purchase in 2019 to strengthen its footprint in the US drug market. 

The irony: In Japan, the use, production, and import of any medicine containing amphetamines, including Adderall, is strictly prohibited. This issue came to light during the 2021 Tokyo Olympics with public concerns being raised over Simone Biles having access to her ADHD medication Ritalin. The ban on ADHD medications in Japan dates back to WWII, when amphetamines were used to keep soldiers from being fatigued, and high doses were given to kamikaze pilots before suicide missions. All stimulants, including Adderall, were subsequently banned by the government in 1951, after it was revealed that they were devastatingly addictive.

Here in the States, the government has reached the same conclusion—without the subsequent ban. Adderall and the amphetamines used to make it are classified as Schedule II controlled substances by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Last October, the agency expressed concern that “aggressive marketing practices” by telehealth companies may be contributing to the over-prescribing of ADHD medications; as a result, the DEA limited the production, contributing to a nationwide shortage.

While the DEA did not mention specific telehealth companies, it is believed the company Cerebral Inc. was one of their concerns. Cerebral’s prescribing and marketing practices resulted in triple investigations by the Federal Trade Commission, Department of Justice, and DEA. The company had launched in 2020 with five employees and became one of the digital mental health startups that reached “unicorn” status, which signifies a privately held startup company valued at over $1 billion.

Regulatory changes during the pandemic benefited the telehealth industry as potentially addictive medications—like Adderall—became more available online to patients. With the mental health market booming during the pandemic, both American and foreign investors poured major cash into start-up companies like Cerebral, who recruited social media influencers to target a tech-savvy generation desperately seeking psychiatric treatment. Cerebral quickly formed a partnership with Alto Neuroscience Inc., to launch the first-ever decentralized clinical study by recruiting app subscribers to participate in at-home clinical research utilizing Alto’s biomarker platform and targeted drug candidates. Field Trip Health also entered into a partnership with Cerebral to “lower the barriers of entry into ketamine assisted therapy for many people who have solely been exposed to generalized psychiatry.”

Simone Biles became a spokesperson for mental health issues after opting out of the Tokyo Olympics and was recruited by Cerebral as an investor and face of their brand, quickly helping it raise $300 million in venture capital—and take its value to $4.8 billion. After complaints surfaced and whistleblowers came forward about unethical practices and overprescribing, Cerebral announced last year that it would no longer offer stimulants such as Adderall or Concerta. Shortly after the allegations, Ms. Biles ended her partnership. 

While the company’s mission was based on what seemed like an altruistic goal to “end the stigma of mental illness,” in reality, it had a ruthless goal of generating extreme profit as quickly as possible by increasing the number of people diagnosed with mental illness—children included—and prescribed potentially harmful psychiatric drugs.

Granted, pharmaceutical companies are credited with being producers of life-saving drugs, but these companies have also proven that they are willing to aggressively market dangerous products under the guise of improving our mental health and wellbeing while showing a blatant disregard for human life. With the FDA’s stamp of approval and recommendations from prescribers, these companies act as if they are unstoppable because they believe we have become so mentally overwhelmed by the world around us that we are nothing but a quick-fix, drug-dependent society.

I believe we are better than that.

Our overreliance on the pharmaceutical industry to treat perceived psychiatric disorders should be seen as a societal problem that needs a collective response. Reducing our reliance on psychiatric drugs will only take place when we learn to listen with discernment, recognize alternative options, and stop listening to the party line of the medical model. 

Turning the Corner: Revitalization, Restoration, and Gradual Awakenings

Which takes me back, once again, to my childhood.

My father was a true pillar of strength, both in our family and in our community. During the recession of the early 1980s, when many businesses were hit hard, my father spearheaded creative projects to remodel our store, improve sales for our group of neighborhood supermarkets, and revitalize our village community through redevelopment projects. What was projected to be a very depressing economic forecast became a chance to engage in exciting opportunities that breathed new life and energy into our village community. Although many of the family-owned and operated businesses have since closed, the community is still fairly well-maintained, and the village government continues to host many engaging family-friendly events. 

After our store closed, the building was sold to the Rescue Mission Alliance and made into a thrift store. Our family was invited to the grand opening, and a plaque honoring my father was hung at the entrance. The money earned at the thrift store supports the homeless shelter in the nearby city. While it was heartbreaking to see our store close its doors, especially since so many within walking distance depended on it for essentials, it was heartwarming to tour the shelter and know a higher purpose is still being served in the building that my dad put his heart and soul into.

The building adjacent to our store was maintained by one of my siblings, who until their retirement a few years ago, operated a bottle and can redemption center. Although not easy work, my sibling enjoyed staying connected to the community. For low-income areas, this service is very valuable for extra income, it helps reduce neighborhood waste and also helps out many nonprofit organizations with fundraising. 

As for Bristol Myers, it spent tens of millions of dollars working with the state to implement a comprehensive plan for environmental protection to reduce and clean up toxic waste. A herculean effort under the supervision of state and federal regulatory agencies helped to clean up a heavily polluted lake that for decades was a dumping ground for Bristol and many of the industries in the area. For more than a century, sewage combined with industrial waste gave the lake the reputation of being one of the most polluted lakes in the world. 

On my last trip to visit family in my hometown, I was able to walk a trail at the lake with my childhood friend. We saw over 30 bald eagles as this lake, which was once considered a “cesspool”—but is now one of the largest winter roosting sites for eagles in the state. This was a sight that as kids, we never could have imagined. 

Over the past 15 years, I have had the opportunity to engage in volunteerism that supports various nonprofit organizations and elementary schools in the community I now live in. I have been blessed to meet and connect with dozens of individuals who are truly making a difference in this world, including working to advance consumer education on psychiatric drugs and alternative options. These are individuals who are quietly and persistently answering the call of caring for the needs of others in our community because it is their passion. Their contributions to grassroot efforts, dedication, commitment, and creative ideas of fundraising have blossomed into sustainable nonprofit organizations that are best described by those who know what goes on behind the scenes as “magical.” 

After seeing so much tragedy and injustices in the world directly related to the use of psychiatric drugs, it is heartwarming to know that small groups of thoughtful, committed citizens are truly making a difference. 

As Margaret Mead once said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” 

Let’s keep at it. 

***

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.

***

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17 COMMENTS

  1. Just to clarify and expand:

    1.- The lack of approved medication in children seems to me an issue of lack of research, given the expense and possibly technical difficulty in doing medical experimental research in children. Aware of the many abuses of said experimentation at least before the 1970s.

    2.- The settlement of the $2.5 million case was done because the psychiatrist had, apparently, no other asset that could be used to compensate the survivors. So, AFIU, the lawyers only could size the medical malpractice insurance money up to it’s cap. That if am not mistaken was the hospital’s insurance, not the psychiatrist’s.

    3.- The accountability of practitioners, to my mind, is still a side play given that litigation revolves around money, not justice nor prevention. Hence going after hospitals, drug companies, etc., when, as stated, in some interpretations of the law the person responsible of tragic outcomes is in fact the physician, not the company.

    But that is changing with the intepretation of strict responsability laws. But I am no lawyer nor giving legal advice.

    4.- If I am not mistaken, Lexapro was approved for minors despite it’s risks, harms, and little benefit precisely because of the rhetoric of great need for treatment in children. The propaganda that kids are suffering great harm of psychiatric disease. Inflated not only by Big Pharma, but by key opinion leaders in psychiatry who, admitedly, benefit from “sponsorship” from Big Pharma.

    So, for the FDA that lowers the bar, makes easier to approve such pernicious nonsense. And as stated that dumps the legal problem into the “responsible” physician, away from Big Pharma. Not unlike fire weapons…

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  2. Oh, I forgot one thing:

    5.- In my imagination, yes my imagination, one motivation to use polypharmacy in psychiatry, beyond the mitigation of other drugs side effects, is that psychiatrist’s want to play to be real doctors.

    Stop being Pinocchios and handle complex, multiple and risky medications, like they “saw” during their hospital training.

    Like a wish to be a real doctors by faking technical prowess and expertise. Like a “God with an antfarm” complex. Tragic and callous when playing in such a way with children, in some cases, when lucky, in 5 minutes consultations with the patient present.

    When not, well, God is playing foreteller and telepath, among other things in my imagination.

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    • 27/2017

      Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

      I think it is also important to consider the number of psychiatric conditions that are being diagnosed by primary care physicians, nurse practitioners and other prescribers who are not psychiatrists but are prescribing psychiatric drugs at alarming rates.

      Primary care physicians and other medical professionals are required to do mental health screening. Just by filling out a short chart, patients can end up on harmful psychotropic drugs.

      The start-up company Cerebral that I mention in the article did a mass-hiring of nurse practitioners with minimum experience to prescribe psychiatric drugs to their rapidly expanding client base. It was reasonably foreseeable that Cerebral’s business practices would lead to harm.

      In this video, the Cerebral client makes it sound like the customers can just tell the prescribers what drugs they want, no different than placing an order at the Burger King drive through.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5stO8WLDoCk

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  3. In their 1975 book, “The Myth of the Hyperactive Child and Other Means of Child Control,” reporters Peter Schrag and Diane Divoky documented how the mental health movement moved to gain control of our children with pseudo-medical diagnoses and psychiatric drugs. It has been nearly three decades since I received a phone call from a reporter expressing shock that a two-year-old child placed in Washington state’s foster case system had died from a prescribed antidepressant. Other state’s have since been found to use psychiatric drugs routinely on children.

    It is the ideology of the “mental health movement” that serves to justify this state-sponsored child abuse. But parents have been no better at defending their children and have eagerly participated in the mass expansion of “child psychiatry.” Once ADHD was invented for children, it was only a matter of time before adult ADHD was proffered to the public, with the false rationale that mental illness runs in families so it must be genetic.

    As usual, one of the few to object to child psychiatry was Dr. Thomas Szasz because (1) children were unable to give or refuse consent, and (2) psychiatry, whether drugs or psychotherapy, was such an abusive form of intervention from which children could not escape.

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  4. Speaking of neurotoxins for kids. And as a partially personal narrative, I always considered myself psychosis resistant, I have always being a skeptic and a folk grounded in facts. Epistemology was one of my favorite subjects.

    And some folks who knew me rarely saw me anxious, they used metaphors for that. And I have never been depressed. I’ve been psychiatrized but from some years ago I understand because of mobbing, harassement, side effects and plain interpersonal/institutional violence. Among other usuals.

    And, because, now, decades later I know, and only I, I have a rare genetic disease, really rare, I never really liked candies, not even potatoes carbohydrates. Even the common tortilla in Mexico kinda disagreed with me. Even if from time to time, I ate a few of both.

    And, for the most part, I was, for eating purposes poor. I did not have the luxury to eat candies. Sometimes I didn’t had breakfast, and no school lunch. Until 2-3-4pm when I was forced to pray, eventhough I was atheist, from an atheist family, and with a communist father nonetheless!. And my usual dinner, at night, right before bed, was just beans with some tiny chiles, nothing else.

    But not that bad!, I was in a private school barely affordable, because I was a “genius”. Hence I guess the lack of food, and sometimes the partial lack of shoes…

    Except one time, when candy was literally prescribed by my “doctor”, a nasty pediatritian. What a load, he didn’t just prescribed candies that decades latter I knew could have literally killed me, but I digress.

    Back then, prescribed candy, for a medical disease for which I was bed bound, and absent from school over three months. To my now overly delirious imaginatination probably due to food poisoning from fungal toxins.

    Common in kids, underdiagnosed back then, in some fatal, or requiring a liver transplant. All tests done then and less than two, 2, decades later outrule some other stuff. But, conjectural, common in kids as unknown causes. I suspect big Agro. I digress again, sorry.

    Funny, a GP as an adult recomended to my mother, without my consent, for me to eat more sugar, which also could have killed me. It still can, a glucose IV drip could literally stop my heart.

    But, hey!, back then people thought hypoglycemia was common and could be diagnosed when glucose was over 60m/dL. Nowadays, as far as I recall it requires glucose below 50-60, and symptoms of hypoglycemia, beyond fainting.

    Since fainting is common in healthy people, and funny thing!, it causes lowering of blood sugar!. Just the adrenaline of feeling whoozy can do that.

    Anyway, so, maybe, me being food poor gave me an advantage in resisting “mental illness” from FOOD TOXINS. As many other third world kids and poor kids might as well be.

    From:

    https://psychcentral.com/adhd/red-dye-and-adhd#effect-on-adhd

    “Key takeaways

    A relationship exists between food dye exposure and adverse behavioral outcomes for children in the general population.
    Animal toxicology studies showed changes in brain chemistry and memory in rats given the food dyes Red no. 3, Red no. 40, Yellow no. 5, and Yellow no. 6 over a 6-week period.
    AFC [artificial food colorings] effects may be transient, but the aggregate impact on groups like classrooms is significant over time.
    People in underserved areas without access to good food or nutrition education may be disproportionately affected by AFCs.
    Children have higher exposure to AFCs per pound of body weight.”

    Reporting partially on:

    https://oehha.ca.gov/media/downloads/risk-assessment/report/healthefftsassess041621.pdf

    With the caveat, that although EFFECTS of artificial food colorings might seem transient, as many behaviours, once started they can be reinforced. Adopted as adaptative at a young age, for later be labeled, and conceding, becoming maladaptive.

    Rats might not learn helplesness, following the lingo, but humans, particularly kids might. Particularly if incentives like validation for depression running in the family, or the like, are present.

    Let alone psychiatrization.

    And “just” the typical way back then, still recommended now, use of tryciclic antidepressants for the way too common enuresis, betwetting, might have compounded the effects of food additives, reinforce each other in ways rat experiments did not test. And cause long term behavioural changes easy to psychiatrize.

    And let’s not forget metoclopramide for children’s, even infants, gastroesophageal reflux.

    I thought to share this info, even if it might be off topic.

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  5. Drugging people is a cost effective way to “treat” the person as profits dictate treatment protocols. By 2030 the psychiatric industry will probably be worth close to $90 billion. So yearly now it hovers around $65 billion. With more and more prescribers like NP’s, GP’s, Psychologists in the military and in many states as well as off-labeling prescription writing this is about jobs and profits. Ad A.I. into the mix and you have a real catastrophic tidal wave soon. Plus most people crave and want an easy way to solve problems and they demand it from their “care providers”.

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    • “So yearly now it hovers around $65 billion.”

      The ADHD market alone, the drugs, the consulting, therapeutic intervention, doctor sessions etc. is worth more than that. If you include all the actors and all the companies, you most likely end up with a figure north of a trillion.

      There’s a lot of money in selling diseases to people. As a matter of fact, what is currently happening has been happening for centuries. Just look at advertisements from the late 1800s which liberally promoted radium, cocaine or other kinds of stimulant drugs as solutions to problems such as tiredness, mild depression, unruly children/housewives etc. Stimulant drugs for adults have been introduced and mass-marketed by the ’20s at the very latest and have been routinely used for “treating” hyperactivity and “immoral” behavior in children since the ’50s.

      More importantly, the current ‘epidemic’ of ADHD, for example, is the result of governmental policies as opposed to pharmaceutical marketing (which, as I already pointed out, has successfully introduced ADHD as a valid concept, under the name of minimal brain damage, with a scientific treatment plan by the ’50s).
      In other words, we’ve got so much ADHD because the insurance companies now pay (with your tax money) for so much ADHD. They pay it because the policies based on your national healthcare policies stipulate so. And the latter is largely the result of, yes, lobbying. None of that is going away any time soon. It’s been going on for a hundred years now. Similar issues appear with the ‘neurodiversity’ movement that has now been effectively captured by large corporations in order to promote the idea that mental health diagnoses, at least those labelled as ‘neurodevelopmental’, necessarily involve abnormal brain states.

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  6. Excellent article. The content was informative. I really enjoy your style. It was invigorating and motivating. Thank you. It made my day.
    Your article really highlights how the gov in the USA does not protect its citizens from corporations.
    A democracy cares about its citizens. A democracy must include ALL THREE of these: 1. Of the people
    2. for the people
    3. by the people.
    Otherwise it is not a democracy. Is a country democratic or democratic in name only, if it consistently does not protect its most vulnerable and most marginalized citizens from the harms of products made by powerful corporations? How can the representatives be oblivious to the will of their constituents and still say they represent the will of the people they’ve been elected to represent? How can politicians be unbiased by lobbyists when voting, if their jobs are dependent on donations from those same lobbyists? At what point do campaign donations become bribes? And if politicians are consistently bribed, how can there possibly be democracy?
    For the people?—I guess America is for the people if we use the same definition that our founding fathers had for people: white males who owned property. It is not really common knowledge but in the original constitution only white men who owned property were allowed to vote in elections. (Which was only 12% of the population then) In today’s world white men who own property would mean “rich white men”. In my opinion, and I would hope everyones opinion, that definition is far too narrow. In my opinion and granted probably not most peoples’ opinion, people are: ALL living beings. Now, of course I don’t believe that we can have a government run by wild animals or immature toddlers. But by some definitions of ‘animals’ and ‘toddlers’, maybe we already do…

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    • Blu,

      Thank you for your kind words and for sharing your thoughts.

      It’s so true, the USA government does not protect its citizens from corporate greed.

      I believe it is up to us to protect each other.

      I like the saying:

      “Be the Change You Want to See in the World.”

      I feel like that is how my Italian-immigrant grandparents and parents lived their lives and instilled those values in their children.

      I think it is important to find ways to connect with others in a way that will promote unity within a community.

      Sometimes it helps to look back and reminisce about better times.

      Below is a story that was written by a former customer of my family’s grocery store. Our village community connects through a Facebook group and we share this story every year at Thanksgiving. The man in the story wearing the glasses is my dad. He was an incredibly strong man who, like my brother and countless others, ended up losing his life because of psychiatric drugs.

      I hope you enjoy this story as well as you did mine:

      “I’ve told this story before, and I’m repeating it again, as I will do every Thanksgiving Day. It reminds me of a time when people gave without asking, when eyes could see the need of others and willingly helped, with no expectations or rewarding fanfare . Just true, honest, kindness for others.

      I am lucky enough to have a story that warms my heart and brings me gratitude every Thanksgiving Day. Back 50 years ago my mother was left with 3 young girls. No job, no money, no Government benefits that now flood the system. Or, if there were Ma was to proud to ask. Though, I do remember a brick of cheese would mysteriously appear on the back doorsteps once a month.

      Anyway, when Dad left, Ma slowly started selling the furniture. When my father worked and lived home my mother bought antiques, she knew what to look for and what was of value. I knew when the white van pulled up and a chubby man and his cat rimmed glasses wife came out of the van, Ma was in need of money. I would hear her say to them “but, that’s worth”. It didn’t matter. So, one by one, the furniture left the house. Until stacks of newspaper were our “chairs”. Holidays weren’t as happy for Ma, as it was for so many.

      One night there was a knock on the door. Ma went to answer it and of course I had to follow to see who was at the door. There stood 2 men. They were from the local grocery store Leo and Sons.

      Before Ma could get a word out, one of them spoke up and said ” Ethel, you won the raffle we had at the store” and they proceeded to carry in bags and bags of food along with a big, fat turkey to cook.

      As I watched Ma, tears welling in her eyes, as they do now for me every year as I recall and write this, she said to Mr. Casciano “I didn’t register for a turkey raffle “.. Mr. Casciano, who wore the black glasses, was the first to give Ma a hug and say Happy Thanksgiving, followed by the other gentleman. Ma thanked them, overcome with joy from their generosity.
      They knew the true meaning of kindness, to give without acknowledgement or praise.
      That year we had the best Thanksgiving Dinner. After that Ma got a job as a typist with the State of New York and we were O.K.

      So, on this day of gratitude I would like to thank the Casciano Family for all their generosity to the residents of East Syracuse, I’m quite sure my mother was not the only recipient of their kindness. I carry that lovely memory with me and I am now proud to share it. Several years ago I had the chance to tell the above story to the wife of one of the Casciano “boys”, as Ma called them, and we both teared up, she knew nothing of his kind gift, I was happy I could tell her and thank her. Happy Thanksgiving to all”

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    • Hi Bradford,

      Yes, that is so true.

      I think it is important to consider, how can best promote the alternatives to parents/caregivers who think their child needs these drugs?

      MIA and other organizations like ISEPP are doing a great job of creating an awareness but we have a long way to go.

      Kind regards,
      Maria

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  7. Excellent article, you’ll save lives, wish every parent was aware of this information.

    I retired in 2008 and began to vigorously investigate something I had been curious about, namely the cause of mass shootings, where before 1985 they were extremely rare, what has changed ?
    I discovered that 80% of these occurred in the US, and wondered why; what was so unique about the United States ?
    At some later point I found that 80% of the psychotropic drugs produced were consumed in the US !
    WOW, that is one heck of a coincidence, and the timing of the wider usage of those drugs coincided with the shooting occurrences.
    So yes, I studied over 40 mass shooters and ALL were on various psych medications.
    It should be noted that prior to the shootings these individuals had virtually no criminal records.
    This is hard to ignore and I believe we have a worsening problem as these drugs are more widely distributed than ever before.
    People need to know the risks.

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