There’s a reason psychiatrists prescribe drugs rather than talking therapy: the latter makes no money for pharmaceutical firms. The New York Times recently led with a front-page splash about psychiatry’s propensity to prescribe pills, “Talk Doesn’t Pay, So Psychiatry Turns Instead to Drug Therapy”. That news is already widely known in the mental health field, but it has vast ramifications for Americans trying to maintain their sanity in our market-driven and medical system for delivering mental healthcare. What does the turn to drug therapy mean for the mass of Americans?
Science and medicine have so successfully rationalized and justified our society’s most devastating and pervasive form of child abuse that it remains almost wholly unacknowledged, though it is known to every sentient adult and to most children. Probably every adult and half-grown child in America knows and can identify at least one child who is the victim of this abuse. Those who teach, coach, minister to or otherwise serve children may know dozens or even hundreds of children who are victims of the new child abuse. Our society’s particular form of child abuse is the psychiatric diagnosing and drugging of our children.
The dangers of [psychiatric ] drugs: The drugs are especially hazardous to older people, raising the risk of strokes, pneumonia, confusion, falls, diabetes and hospitalization. “There’s a bunch of problems, not least of which is those drugs can kill you,” said Dr. Mark Kunik at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston who spoke last month at the Gerontological Society of America’s annual meeting in New Orleans. Instead of looking for causes of disruptive behavior among dementia patients, doctors typically prescribe drugs to mask the symptoms, he said, because “It’s the easy thing to do. … That’s true in hospitals, in clinics and in nursing homes.” Federal regulators are cracking down on homes that don’t routinely reassess residents on psychotropic drugs. But use remains widespread.
Former GSK counsel is the first target in government’s executive-liability crackdown. Could J&J be next? The US Department of Justice filed criminal charges last week against Lauren Stevens, a former VP and assistant general counsel at GlaxoSmithKline. Going after pharma execs marks a seismic shift in the government’s efforts to stem the tide of fraud and other illegal pharma marketing practices, which a raft of billion-dollar settlements have so far failed to end. Stevens is charged with obstruction of an investigation, concealment and falsification of documents, and making false statements to the FDA in its 2002 investigation of off-label promotion of the antidepressant Wellbutrin for weight loss, an indication for which it has never been approved but has shown some clinical benefit. The DoJ says that it has evidence, in the vast paper and electronic documentation turned over by GSK, showing that Stevens hid and otherwise misled the agency about some 1,000 instances of GSK-paid doctors promoting Wellbutrin for weight loss to other doctors.
Among Seroquel side effects is a reported increased risk of Seroquel diabetes. According to the UK Press Association, AstraZeneca set aside $203 million to resolve approximately 18,000 claims in the US that Seroquel, a schizophrenia treatment, caused diabetes and other serious Seroquel side effects. A further $270 million was reportedly put aside for other claims and to cover AstraZeneca’s legal costs. In August 2010, AstraZeneca said it settled approximately 17,500 lawsuits alleging Seroquel caused diabetes and other injuries for approximately $200 million. The lawsuits alleged the drug maker failed to adequately warn patients about the drugs’ risks.