Dr. Peter Breggin: Antipsychotic Drugs, Their Harmful Effects, and the Limits of Tort Reform

Ironically, the FDA is approving these drugs for use in children at the same time that the Justice Department has been fining drug companies for illegally marketing these drugs to children. The illegal marketing corrupted and contaminated medical practice, encouraging physicians to prescribe off label, eventually leading the FDA to then approve off label prescribing. The studies used to justify this approval have been wholly developed and supervised by these same drugs companies using handpicked doctors who have often been involved in encouraging off label use. Drug companies commonly ghostwrite the research publications that appear under the names of these doctors.

Dr. Peter Breggin
The Huffington Post
October 31, 2009

There are many problems within our legal system that could benefit from reform. But within the area in which I have great experience as a psychiatric expert, so-called tort reform has already gone too far. It is already too difficult for injured patients or their surviving families to bring malpractice suits against physicians and health facilities, and product liability suits against drug companies, even when their cases have great merit. I believe in private health care and I believe in the free market, but liberty requires checks and balances. The right to sue medical practitioners and pharmaceutical companies provides a necessary control in our free market system, as well as a means for individuals to seek compensation and justice.

Harm Caused by Antipsychotic Drugs

For illustrative purposes, I’ll focus on the newer antipsychotic drugs, the so-called atypicals, including Zyprexa, Risperdal, Geodon, Seroquel, and Abilify. These drugs produce horrendous adverse effects that often lead the victims or their surviving families to consider bringing lawsuits against doctors, health care facilities, or drug companies.

First, the antipsychotic drugs produce tardive dyskinesia. Tardive dyskinesia involves drug-induced abnormal movements that commonly disfigure patients and in some cases result in lifelong pain and total disability.

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