Where do parents and teachers get the idea there’s “something wrong” with their kid and only an expensive drug can fix it? From Pharma’s seamless web of ads, subsidized doctors, journals, medical courses and conferences, paid “patient” groups, phony public services messages and reporters willing to serve as stenographers.
Dr. Joan Luby, the preschool depression researcher at the center of a New York Times article that failed to mention her past research was funded by Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), Shire (SHPGY) and AstraZeneca (AZN), is currently testing the antipsychotic Risperdal on autistic children aged 30 months to 5 years old, according to the ClinicalTrials.gov database. Although the study is not funded by Janssen, the unit of J&J that makes Risperdal, it nonetheless typifies a new field of drug research: The use of mood-altering pharmaceuticals on the very, very young.
The NYT Sunday magazine crowned Dr. Joan Luby as the queen of preschool depression this weekend, but failed to mention that Luby has taken cash from Johnson & Johnson (JNJ), Shire (SHPGY) and AstraZeneca (AZN) to study using atypical antipsychotics in young children. The article is significant because of the outsize role that the Times magazine plays in creating and naming new social trends.
It’s easy to make jokes about “preschool depression”—students get it every time the alarm rings—but finding depression, “relapses,” “chronicity,” and “treatment resistance” in 3-year-olds is not funny.
Researchers used to believe that “young children were too cognitively and emotionally immature to experience depressive effects,” says Joan L. Luby, M.D., but now believe they can and do suffer from Major Depressive Disorder (MDD).