Friday, February 26, 2021

Genetic Tests Marketed to Psychiatrists Not Supported by Research

With the explosion of genetic testing and the emerging field of pharmacogenetics, patients can now take a DNA test and receive psychiatric drug recommendations customized to fit their genetic makeup. In an editorial for the latest issue of the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, Columbia University Psychiatrist Robert Klitzman warns that clinicians need to be aware of the limitations of these genetic tests being marketed to them.

GSK to Face Lawsuits Over Antidepressant Paxil and Birth Defects

The antidepressant Paxil has been linked to birth defects. "An Ohio federal judge on Wednesday ruled that GlaxoSmithKline must face a product liability suit brought by a woman whose child was born with heart defects after she took the antidepressant Paxil during her pregnancy, ruling that she had successfully pled fraud."

“Treating Parkinson’s Psychosis With Antipsychotics May Boost Death Risk”

The Psychiatric Advisor reports on new research from King’s College London that suggests that antipsychotics can cause serious harm to people with Parkinson’s.

“Report Finds Florida Foster Kids Put on Psychotropic Drugs Without Following Proper Procedures”

After the 2009 suicide of a seven-year-old foster kid who had been on two “black box” medications intended for adults, Florida updated its policies to protect vulnerable children from over-prescription. Unfortunately, according to a report by Orlando Weekly, “foster children are still being put on psychotropic medications without caregivers following proper procedures.”

University of Minnesota Ends Recruiting of Research Subjects on Involuntarily Holds

The University of Minnesota announced a change to its research ethics policies this month after coming under criticism “following the recruitment of a schizophrenia...

Murphy’s Mental Health Bill a Threat to Civil Liberties

In an Op-ed for the Times Union, Madeleine Ringwald explains how the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act “would severely disable protection and advocacy organizations from protecting the civil, legal and human rights of people in mental health services.” “Whether you examine it through a scientific, civil rights or bottom-line lens, Murphy's bill should appall you,” she writes. “Any legislation that bolsters institutionalization at the cost of community-based services seeks not to help those with mental health needs, but help society find ways to hide, suppress and silence them.”

Study Links SSRIs to Violent Crime in Youth

Individuals between the ages of 15 and 24 are more likely to commit a violent crime if they are taking an SSRI antidepressant than if they are not, according to new research out of Sweden. The study published in PLoS Medicine on Tuesday, suggests "warnings about the increased risk of violent behavior among young people taking SSRIs might be needed.”

Antipsychotics Prescribed Off-Label for Challenging Behaviors

Antipsychotics are being prescribed to people who may have challenging behaviors but no mental disorder, according to new research published in this month’s issue of BMJ. “Excessive use of psychotropic drugs has individual and systemic implications,” the researchers write. “Antipsychotics, in particular, are associated with several adverse side effects that can impair quality of life and lead to deleterious health outcomes.”

“Antipsychotics May Be Pushed On Those with Intellectual Disabilities”

Psych Central covers findings published in BMJ revealing that many people in the U.K. with intellectual disabilities are being prescribed antipsychotic drugs. The study’s lead author comments: “People who show problem behaviors, along with older people with intellectual disability or those with co-existing autism or dementia, are significantly more likely to be given an antipsychotic drug, despite this being against clinical guidelines and risking possible harm.”

“Fears That Antipsychotic Drugs Being Used as ‘Chemical Cosh’ in Disability Care”

An editorial in the Guardian discusses the fact that the number of people with intellectual or learning disabilities “who are being treated with psychotropic drugs far exceeds those with mental illness.” The authors of a new study examining the overuse of psychotropic drugs on people with learning disabilities, published this month in BMJ, argue: “If people without mental illness are given psychotropic drugs… it is probably to control their behavior.”

Forced Psychiatry is Torture

I am a survivor of forced psychiatry, and I bring this perspective with me as a human rights lawyer. People with disabilities have a right to be as we are and not to have our bodies and minds made over to suit other people. We alone have the right to decide whether a medical treatment will support who we are or detract from who we are, and that is why free and informed consent is the essential requirement.

Madness in Civilisation: A Cultural History of Insanity

Until recently the history of psychiatry was a neglected backwater whose murky depths were explored largely by psychiatrist. The impression conveyed by books such as Tuke’s Chapters in the History of the Insane in the British Isles, Macalpine and Hunter's Three Hundred Years of Psychiatry: 1535 - 1860, Berrios and Freemen's 150 Years of British Psychiatry 1841 - 1991, or Fuller Torrey and Miller's The Invisible Plague, is one that sees psychiatry and modern systems of mental health care as the inevitable outcome of progress through scientific thought, a (white European male-led) narrative from darkness and ignorance to enlightenment and knowledge.

Call to Ban “Low Testosterone” Ads as “Disease-mongering”

An editorial in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society has called for a ban on advertisements about testosterone replacement therapy, and the FDA has issued warnings about the practice.

“We Need to Unlock the Brain’s Secrets—Ethically”

-The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues has released a report on key ethical challenges facing the BRAIN Initiative.

Public Overwhelmingly Against FDA Proposal to Allow Drug Company Salespeople “Free Rein”

-Public Citizen analyzed public comments on proposed government rule changes for drug company sales representatives.

Hospital Website Health Care Information May Not Be Reliable

An investigation found that many US hospital websites were more like advertising outlets than educational portals.

FDA-approved Ads Misinform Patients About Antipsychotics and Motor Dysfunction

Food and Drug Administration-approved information and public advertisements are misleading the public about the actual neurodegenerative risks from second-generation antipsychotics.

ECT for Agitation and Aggression in Dementia

The International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry published an article titled Safety and utility of acute electroconvulsive therapy for agitation and aggression in dementia,  which concludes "Electroconvulsive therapy may be a safe treatment option to reduce symptoms of agitation and aggression in patients with dementia whose behaviors are refractory to medication management." But the participants were not a random selection of people taking the drugs in question. Rather, they were individuals selected because of aggressive behavior, most of whom had been taking some or all of these drugs on admission. So it is a distinct possibility that the aggression was a drug effect for many, or even most, of the study participants.

Assessing the Cost of Psychiatric Drugs to the Elderly and Disabled Citizens of the...

ProPublica is well known for creating interesting data bases that allow anyone hooked up to a computer to see by name whether a physician is accepting Big Pharma payments — from dinners to speaking engagements to consulting services. What may be lesser known is that occasionally ProPublica will publish other data that when carefully mined can reveal even more about the use of psychiatric drugs especially when there is a public funding source available.

When Is Psychiatric Treatment Like Child Abuse?

In what ways can psychiatric treatments, and the relationships between psychiatrists and patients, be appropriately characterized as "abusive"? On his blog, MIA Foreign Correspondent...

Doctors Rarely Warn about Benzo Withdrawal

The Boston Globe interviews people who became ever more severely dependent on sedating benzodiazepines without realizing it, because as they tried to stop taking...

Forced Treatment Ineffective: Advocacy Essential

Most Americans would agree that we have problem with mental health in this country, but what many do not know when they consider that people who are in distress are not getting the help they need is that hospitals in this country are not giving people a choice when they are in the most need. This is based on laws that currently exist in 45 US States, which allow individuals to be petitioned into an inpatient psychiatric unit against their will if they are deemed to be a “danger to themselves or others.” I have worked for 3.5 years as a Peer Support Specialist within my local public mental health system, where I see this happen to the individuals I serve, on a regular basis. I myself have been forced.

Consent and Psychiatry: Problematizing the Problematic 

It is rare to get involved in a dialogue over psychiatry without sooner or later someone defending the use of such “treatments” as ECT “as long as they are consented to,” with the term “informed consent” periodically employed. Herein lies the context for this piece. The issue that I want to probe, to be clear, is not whether force should be used—for of course it shouldn’t—but the thorny issue of consent itself—what exactly constitutes consent and what other issues besides consent are critical to factor in when considering what it is and is not legitimate for a “medical” professional to offer.

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