How many times must the public hear this phrase before the pattern is noticed? How many more school shootings must there be before the realization is made about the consequences of using psychiatric drugs designed to alter brain chemistry? There is an increasing number of people, especially young people, being forced to consume powerful and dangerous psychiatric drugs by parents, the judicial courts, social services agencies, and school systems.
Psychotropic: (Adjunctive), "psy'·cho·tro·pic" -- Being capable of affecting the mind, emotions, and behavior. Affecting mental activity, behavior, or perception, as a mood-altering drug. Some legal psychotropic drugs, such as lithium, are used for depression. Many illicit drugs such as cocaine are also psychotropic. SYN: psychodynamic
There has been a tendency to blame guns, society, and even video games, as confused populations grasp for massacre explanations. It is especially troubling to our collective psyche when killers are children. Some of the so-called monsters used knives, baseball bats, or motor vehicles as their weapons. Some of them drowned their own children, or murdered their families as they slept. Very few people have realized the one common thread joining virtually all modern massacres not involving governments: psychotropic drugs.
Meet Kurt. In 1995, at the age of 18, Kurt fatally shot his own father without cause or explanation. His troubles had begun just 17 days prior when he was prescribed the drug Prozac by his doctor; who failed to perform any psychological testing. Shortly after beginning Prozac, Kurt, a normally outgoing teenager, became withdrawn and moody. By the second week, he was restless and violent. He got into a fight with his best friend, and purposely crashed his truck into a stone wall. All of these behaviors were grossly uncharacteristic. After only 17 days from his first dose of Prozac, Kurt shot and killed his father, whom he loved very much. The shooting was a complete shock and made no sense to anyone who knew Kurt and his father.
"I was on Prozac. It's supposed to calm me down, and like level me out, but since I got on it, when something bothers me, it bothers me to [the] extreme. I just act differently. I don't have the energy or personality I used to. I spend half the time in a trance. I didn't realize I did it until after it was done, and then I realized it. This might sound weird, but it felt like I had no control of what I was doing, like I was left there just holding a gun."
-- Kurt Danysh, police confession
In 2004, eight years into Kurt’s 22.5-to-60 year conviction, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) admitted that SSRI antidepressants like Prozac can cause suicidal and violent behavior, particularly in adolescents, and children. Additionally, it has been revealed that Eli Lilly & Co. concealed its own data from 1988, which linked Prozac to violence. The FDA has not sanctioned Eli Lilly & Co., and moreover, the FDA has actually encouraged scientific deception by allowing pharmaceuticals to hide negative findings as "trade secrets". Pharmaceutical corporations like Eli Lilly are allowed to fund their own FDA approval studies, and then cherry-pick the results that are the most beneficial to their marketing.
The FDA finally did take some action involving the most dangerous category of psychotropic drugs, which are the SSRI (antidepressant) drugs. It now requires a Black Box Warning on all such pharmaceuticals. Black Box Warnings indicate that the agency officially discourages the use of the given product, and it indicates the strong potential for the drug to be banned. Despite this, SSRI medications are among the most prescribed in the U.S. and sales are perpetually breaking new records. So pervasive are they that they can be detected in many city water supplies from the urine of drug users. This category of drugs includes: Anafranil, Aventyl, Celexa, Cymbalta, Desyrel, Effexor, Elavil, Lexapro, Limbitrol, Ludiomil, Luvox, Marplan, Nardil, Norpramin, Pamelor, Parnate, Paxil, Pexeva, Prozac, Remeron, Sarafem, Serzone (withdrawn for U.S.), Sinequan, Surmontil, Symbyax, Tofranil, Tofranil-PM, Triavil, Vivactil, Wellbutrin, Zoloft, and Zyban.
|FDA Black Box Warning|
The Columbine High School Massacre
These are the yearbook photos for Eric Harris (left) and Dylan Klebold. On April 20th, 1999, these two young men attacked teenage students and the staff of Columbine High School with firearms. The attack lasted only 45 minutes, and ended with them committing suicide. When it was over, 12 students and a teacher were killed, and 24 other students were injured during the massacre. Three more were injured indirectly as they attempted to escape the school. It is the worst school violence incident in history. The leader of the assault, Eric Harris, was using the SSRI psychotropic drug Luvox. Klebold's medical records were permanently sealed, so we can only ponder his psychiatric history.
Mark Taylor, the first student shot at Columbine, brought a lawsuit against Solvay, the international pharmaceutical company that produces Luvox. Taylor's 2001 lawsuit said Luvox had caused Harris to become manic, psychotic, homicidal, suicidal, and had brought about "emotional blunting", or a lack of inhibition. Tayor's lawsuit also faulted Solvay for failing to warn of the "risks and dangers" associated with the drug.
In early 1998, according to Taylor's lawsuit, Harris had taken Zoloft for two months, but soon became "obsessional." Harris became obsessed with homicidal and suicidal thoughts "within weeks" after he began taking Zoloft. Due to his obsession with killing, Harris was switched to Luvox, which was in his system at the time of the shootings, as reported by his autopsy. The change from Zoloft to Luvox was like switching from Pepsi to Coke, according to Dr. Ann Blake Tracy.
Taylor told American Free Press, two years after the Columbine shooting, as a 17-year old recovering victim, he had been taken alone, without counsel, into a room with lawyers representing Solvay and threatened with court costs and counter suits. The fear of financial ruin led Taylor and others to withdraw the lawsuit. Hence, Solvay pharmaceuticals was able to silence disclosure of exactly what had happened at Columbine, and why; even after its product had played an obvious role in slaughtering 13 people.
Traci Johnson committed suicide while enrolled in clinical trials of Eli Lilly’s drug Cymbalta. She hanged herself from a shower in the Eli Lilly facility where the tests were being conducted. Cymbalta is the new "wonder drug" designed by Eli Lilly to restore their flagging sales since Prozac's patent expired. Traci Johnson was not depressed prior to taking the drug. She was a normal, happy girl, who enrolled in the clinical trial as a healthy volunteer to earn money to pay for her college tuition. Anyone with any signs of depression was barred from the trials. Traci’s death, and the deaths of four other people at the trial were completely absent from the official records. The FDA backed this decision by Eli Lilly saying that the deaths were a confidential part of the trial. The FDA states that the deaths of people in drug trials count as a commercial trade secret.
Business As Usual
Just as drugging children has become normal, often with multiple drugs at the same time, so has violence from children become more normal. It is so normal, in fact, that the statistics concerning psychotropic drug induced violence can not be found anywhere. It is certain that the responsible groups such as the FDA, AMA, APA, and the chemical companies do not have any interest, or inclination, in keeping such incriminating records.
The explosive nature of these drugs is predictable. Studies show that they can cause a condition known as akathisia. Akathisia comes from the Greek word meaning "cannot sit still", and refers to significant physical and mental agitation. Akathisia is to violence what a match is to gasoline. This condition has been reported in 1 out of 16 Prozac users, but its incidence is likely under-reported because Prozac also produces mania, hypomania, anxiety, and restlessness, which are the first cousins of akathisia.
The defenders of Prozac say that millions are being helped by it, but this claim is spurious. In the clinical trials submitted to the FDA for registration, Eli Lilly studied the drug in less than 300 people, and for only four or six weeks. However, one out of every seven participants dropped out of the study because of side effects of the drug. In fact, in a recent evaluation of the usage of Prozac and other SSRIs, it was found that nearly 70% of those who are prescribed these drugs do not take them as prescribed, probably due to their undesirable side effects.
Remarkably, there are no actual studies demonstrating that taking antidepressants effectively prevents suicide or violent behavior. In fact, according to Peter Breggin, M.D., author of Your Drug May Be Your Problem, "there is substantial evidence that many classes of psychiatric drugs, including antidepressants such as SSRIs, can cause or exacerbate depression, suicide, paranoia, and violence." Did you know that one out of every 12 patients (and this figure, too, is likely under-reported) admitted to mental hospitals for psychosis is taking SSRIs?
As Dr. Breggin points out in his earlier book, Talking Back to Prozac, these drugs rob people of their humanity. They lose their capacity for empathy. "A lot of what we are seeing is individuals losing their feeling for the people in their lives. They stop caring about their husbands or wives or children. They stop caring about God." This means that these drugs are stimulating a condition of sociopathology (the inability to emphasize with the suffering of others or appreciate consequences), and therefore, they create chemically induced sociopaths.
While zombie-like emotional numbness may initially be felt to be an improvement by someone with extreme depression, it can hardly be considered healthy, or even desirable. It is this loss of empathy that allowed Kip Kinkel to kill both of his parents, and then spend the night in the same room before heading out to shoot his classmates in Oregon. It is precisely why Eric Harris could wander around shooting his classmates in Columbine High School, even the kids he liked, while laughing about it.
Research has shown for the past thirty years that high levels of serotonin caused by psychotropic drugs initially produces euphoria, and later there may be psychosis, mania, aggression, organic brain disease (especially mental retardation) at a greater rate in children, autism, alzheimer's disease, anxiety, depression, mood disorders, anorexia, nightmares, abortions, migraines, hot flashes, irritability, sleeplessness, sleep apnea, chest pain, shortness of breath, decreased reaction times, and compulsions for alcohol and other drugs.
Addiction and "Discontinuation Syndrome"
Discontinuing psychotropic drugs is even more dangerous than taking them. Since the industry refuses to acknowledge that psychotropic drugs are addictive, and therefore prone to causing horrible withdrawal symptoms when they are discontinued, the pharmaceutical companies have created an Orwellian double-speak to describe psychotropic drug withdrawals. They contend that there are no withdrawals from discontinuing these drugs, you see; instead there is merely a Discontinuation Syndrome. One has to wonder how long it took the corporate legal and marketing departments to give birth to this little nugget. It works for them wonderfully, since instead of being liable for both producing and promoting addictive substances, they merely have users who suffer from "Discontinuation Syndrome". I have heard of predators blaming their victims, but this takes it to a whole new level.
The symptoms of psychotropic drug withdrawal, that is Discontinuation Syndrome, are the same as those from taking the drugs plus hallucinations, increased suicidal tendencies, dizziness, difficultly walking, extreme fatigue, tremors, depression, panic attacks, confusion, increased homicidal tendencies, pain, twitches, extreme muscle cramps, GI issues mimicking food poisoning, shocking and electrocution sensations, and psychosis.
Bush's Mental Healthology of Freedom: Like They Do It In Texas
History has taught us that we should duck for cover whenever George W. Bush utters the word freedom, and pray for deliverance. On July 26th, 2004, he stated that his administration had begun implementing the recommendations of the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health to "improve mental health services and support for people of all ages with mental illness" through comprehensive screening. The plan states that schools are in a "key position" to screen the "52 million students and six million adults who work at the schools" and includes recommendations for screening preschool children (19 June, p 1458).
Freedom, in this context, means the freedom to perform psychiatric testing against the will of the test subjects (school children in particular) on behalf of the Government, medical establishment, and the pharmaceutical manufacturers.
The president's commission found that "despite their prevalence, mental disorders often go undiagnosed" and recommended comprehensive mental health screening for "consumers of all ages", including preschool children. According to the commission, "Each year, young children are expelled from preschools and childcare facilities for severely disruptive behaviours and emotional disorders."
The Texas Medication Algorithm Project, or TMAP, was held up by the New Freedom Commission as a "model" medication treatment plan that "illustrates an evidence-based practice that results in better consumer outcomes." TMAP was started in 1995 as an alliance of individuals from the pharmaceutical industry, the University of Texas, and the mental health and corrections departments of Texas. TMAP was praised by the American Psychiatric Association, which called for increased funding to implement the overall plan.
The Texas project sparked controversy when a Pennsylvania government employee revealed state officials who influenced the plan had received money and perks from drug companies who stand to gain from it. Allen Jones, an employee of the Pennsylvania Office of the Inspector General says in his whistleblower report about the "political - pharmaceutical alliance" that developed the Texas project, which promotes the use of newer, more expensive antidepressants and anti-psychotic drugs, was behind the recommendations of the New Freedom Commission, which were "poised to consolidate the TMAP effort into a comprehensive national policy to treat mental illness with expensive, patented medications of questionable benefit, and deadly side effects, and to force private insurers to pick up more of the tab."
As an investigator for the Pennsylvania Office of the Inspector General (OIG), Jones’ findings in the case showed that the drug company Janssen had paid honorariums to key state officials who held significant influence over the prescriptions issued for state institutions such as prisons and mental health hospitals. Although the accounts receiving these payments were marked for “educational grants,” funds were being channeled to state employees who developed guidelines recommending new, more expensive drugs rather than older, cheaper drugs with safe, proven effects. These companies were influencing officials with trips, perks, and lavish travel accommodations as a means of inducing the officials to endorse their products.
Mr Bush's announcement comes after new reports showing that increasing numbers of toddlers and children are being prescribed amphetamines, antidepressants, and anti-psychotic drugs. Concern that widespread screening will only increase the number of young people taking drugs has triggered criticism of the plan.
Dr. Daniel Fisher, one of the twenty-two commissioners responsible for writing the final report for the president, said that widespread screening, at a time when medical education was "geared to the biomedical model and teachers want to get kids fixed", could result in greater number of children being given "a label, a diagnosis, and a medication". "What troubles me a little bit," said Dr Fisher, "is that mental health will continue to be used as a substitute for addressing the social, cultural, and economic needs of children".
The History Of TMAP
The original Texas decision to adopt TMAP brought with it the mandate to use the recommended drugs on all patients in the state system. A doctor cannot choose a generic drug until at least two (often three) drugs on the list have failed. Even then the doctor must set down his or her rationale in writing, and assume liability for deviating from the TMAP list.
With the support of then-Gov. Bush and the Texas Legislature, the drug guidelines were adopted and all Texas prisons and mental hospitals were made available for TMAP pilot projects. The pharmaceutical industry reaped a bonanza once those doors swung open but it wanted more. It wanted access to all the kids involved with state agencies.
So in 1997–98, with pharmaceutical industry funding, TMAP began working on the Texas Children’s Medication Algorithm Project. (TCMAP). A panel was assembled to determine which drugs would be best for the treatment of children and adolescents. The panel soon decided a survey was unnecessary and said the same drugs being used on adults could be used on children. There were no studies or clinical trials whatsoever to support this consensus. Also, these drugs were FDA approved for adult use only.
How could the drug companies pull this off? Because the members of the panel were on the take. For instance, one member of the panel was Graham Emslie, MD, professor and chairman of the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Texas Medical Center. The Integrity in Science Project tracks drug company money to researchers and lists Emslie as: "Consultant to GlaxoSmithKline, Forest, and Pfizer. Receives research support from Eli Lilly, Organon, RepliGen, and Wyeth-Ayerst. Member of the speaker’s bureau for McNeil. ('Experience in the use of SSRIs and other antidepressants in children and teens')"
The program that Bush pushed through in Texas that allows kids under the state's care to be drugged is still causing headaches for lawmakers today. According to an article by the Associated Press on February 9, “As lawmakers work to revamp Texas' foster care system, they also are reviewing the use of mind-altering drugs by foster children”. (ie. The state's guinea pigs - more about that later.)
Of the 46 members of TMAP's three panels, 27 have conducted research on behalf of pharmaceutical companies, served on drug company speakers' bureaus, or served as consultants to a drug company, according to a review conducted for Mother Jones by the Center for Science in the Public Interest," reveals reporter Rob Waters in his 2005 article, "Medicating Aliah".
However, Big Pharma's sticky grip on TMAP does not end there. In spite of Dr. Shon's earlier claims that drug companies only gave $285,000 in funding for TMAP, Austin-based investigative reporter Nanci Wilson reviewed the Texas Department of State Health Service's financial records and discovered that pharmaceutical companies gave the DSHS $1.3 million from 1997 to July 2004, of which at least $834,000 was intended for TMAP.
The TeenScreen Program
Pictured are two students taking a TeenScreen psychological evaluation. The marketers for TeenScreen have falsely presented it as an accurate method of identifying suicidal inclinations in teenagers. TeenScreen promoters fail to openly disclose the percent of false positives for their initial screening test, which is known as the Columbia Suicide Screen (CSS). Every student tested has an 84% chance of being labeled as suffering from a depressive disorder causing suicidal inclinations. These results prove, as the pharmaceuticals designed it to prove, that 84% of the students need to be on expensive psychotropic drugs. (We do want our children to live, after all.) Only 16% of those who take the test will be considered free of mental illness. For the teens who are marked as suicidal, there is a phase II test which the school system may pay an additional fee to have performed, in order to determine how accurate phase I really was. This second test yields that the phase I test was accurate in 94% of the cases. There have been no independent 3rd-party validations for either test, and higher accuracy in diagnosis could be obtained by flipping a coin.
The Entrepreneur and His Programs
The TeenScreen program was created by Dr. David Shaffer. Few people know that Dr. Shaffer is not only the developer of the TeenScreen Program, but he also is a spokesman for pharmaceutical firm Eli Lilly & Company, who manufacturers Prozac (Sarafem). Furthermore, he is a paid consultant for pharmaceutical companies Hoffman la Roche, Wyeth, and GlaxoSmithKline. He is also credited with formulating the TMAP questionnaire, in collaboration with TMAP co-developers.
Business is really good for Dr. David Shaffer and the industry he serves. His connections range from school systems to the White House. Many people consider him to be a corporate whore for the pharmaceutical industry. Unfortunately, Dr. Shaffer is not the cause of corruption in the psychiatric establishment, or the problem could be easily fixed. He is just a symptom of the rampant corruption, and the proof is in his numerous awards by his peers and their congratulations.
Shaffer attempted to block negative British findings. In December of 2003, British drug regulators recommended against the use of antidepressants in the treatment of depressed children under 18 because some of the drugs had been linked to suicidal thoughts and self-harm.
"Dr. David Shaffer, a professor of psychiatry and pediatrics at Columbia University who sent a letter on the issue at Pfizer's request to the British drug agency, said he had concluded that there was insufficient data to restrict the use of the drugs in adolescents. 'The bottom line is that suicidal ideation and suicide attempts are very common in depressed kids.'"
-- New York Times, December 11, 2003
There is no doubt that Dr. Shaffer knows all about the bottom line that he refers to. As noted in the quote above, the sales pitch of the proponents of TeenScreen is that "Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death amongst children!" This is the tactic that they use to gain sympathy from parents, school administrators, and the media, to induce a suicide hysteria. However, child suicides are very rare. For instance, in Florida, the number of teen suicides is about 50 every year. Coincidentally, 50 is the same number of people who are struck by lightning each year in Florida. 50 out of close to 4 million children is not an epidemic.
The Treatment Plan
The treatment for those labeled as mentally ill by Dr. Shaffer's tests are psychotropic drugs consisting of antidepressants, and mood-altering drugs such as Ritalin, Xanax, Celexa, Paxil, Zoloft, Prozac, Thorazine, Luvox and other similar drugs which are known by the FDA (and the pharmaceutical companies) to cause depression, violence, suicide, and homicide. In a recent survey of child psychiatrists, it was discovered that 9 out of 10 children in their care were on at least one of these or similar drugs. Despite the recent FDA Black Box warnings, it is not unusual for children to be put on two or more psychotropic drugs simultaneously.
Psychiatrists are fond of stating mental conditions are caused by "chemical imbalances" in the brain. However, there are no blood tests, no chemical tests, or any valid biological process that is used to determine what this supposed imbalance is, and no person who is currently taking psychiatric drugs has ever been proven to have any type of imbalance. Yet this is the reason drugs are promoted, and it is the basis for which drugs are prescribed by psychiatrists and doctors around the world, to the tune of billions of dollars in profits for the pharmaceutical companies.
The Sneaky Marketing To Children
In some areas, TeenScreen currently uses what they call "passive consent" or “opt-out consent”, which requires no written parental approval to screen their child. Instead, a passive consent form is sent home to parents with the child and if they do not return it, signed by their parents, TeenScreen considers that the parents approve. But what if a parent never sees the form? What if the child never delivers it? Leslie McGuire, TeenScreen’s Co-Director, says: "Unless we hear from you that we can't screen your child we assume we have your permission and we're gonna' screen them." TeenScreen officials discovered that using passive consent boosted the number of teens to be tested from 50% to over 95%.
Withholding report cards and using free movie passes, food and videos to coax teens to participate, TeenScreen offers children “incentives”. There are "I completed TeenScreen" stress balls, BlockBuster rental coupons and pizza parties, if they consent to the procedure or bring back the parental consent form. Some schools are withholding report cards if the permission slips are not brought back to school.
"'It's sort of astonishing', said Laurie Flynn, executive director of TeenScreen, which stopped disclosing the names of schools using the survey because the districts are peppered with e-mails denouncing it".
-- Star Ledger, December 13th, 2005
One tactic TeenScreen officials use is to sell the child on the suicide survey first, and after they have the child's agreement, they later contact parents. Leslie McGuire, co-director of TeenScreen, told listeners at the 2005 NAMI Convention held in Texas, that while only around 54% of parents would consent to a mental health screening for their child, when you asked the children themselves, nearly 98% of the children agreed with the idea of being screened. The key, therefore, was to sell it to the children and let them sell the parents. She said "Getting the kids to buy in is such an essential thing because for the most part, you're distributing the consent forms to the kids to bring home to their parents and bring them back. So you have to get their buy in..."
TeenScreen refuses to divulge information to parents about the criteria it uses in testing children, or the questions that its tests present. This behavior is in blatant disregard of U.S. federal law. So, if you find yourself fighting TeenScreen, then you may wish to hire an attorney, and tell him to reference Title 20, Chapter 31, of the United States Code.
The Pressure To Label
Not surprisingly, schools and daycare centers are the leading catalysts for diagnosis. In nearly 60 percent of cases, teachers are the first to offer the ADHD diagnosis, although many teachers over identify children at risk. In one study of teacher perceptions, 72% of teachers identified over 5% of their students as having ADHD, and fully one-third identified between 16% and 30%. The rates of identification increased in proportion with class sizes. In other words, the more overworked a teacher is, the more likely he is to demand chemical straight jackets.
Placing teachers in the role of diagnosticians creates a difficult dynamic, in which parents often feel pressured to pursue formal diagnoses and drug therapies. Many parents have experienced veiled threats from teachers and other school officials, who say the parents' refusal to give their children stimulants impairs the children's education, and undermines the classroom environment. Although legal protections have prevented the most overt forms of coercion, teachers still hold considerable authority, and function as the gatekeepers of success through their ability to assign work, provide grades, and recommend retention.
The Psycho-Pharmaceutical Educational Complex
"The number of American children and adolescents treated for bipolar disorder increased 40-fold from 1994 to 2003... Drug makers and company-sponsored psychiatrists have been encouraging doctors to look for the disorder."
-- New York Times, September 4th, 2007
Not too long ago, a child who was irritable, moody, and distractible, and who at times sounded grandiose, or who acted without regard for consequences was considered a "handful". In the U.S., by the 1980s, that child was labeled with a "behavioral disorder", and today that child is being diagnosed as "bipolar" and "psychotic", and is prescribed expensive anti-psychotic drugs. Bloomberg News, also on September 4th, 2007, reported, "The expanded use of bipolar as a pediatric diagnosis has made children the fastest growing part of the $11.5 billion U.S. market for antipsychotic drugs."
Psychopathologizing young people is not the only reason for the dramatic rise in sales of such anti-psychotics as Eli Lilly's Zyprexa and Johnson & Johnson's's Risperdal (each, in recent years, grossing annually from $3 to $4 billion). Much of Big Pharma's anti-psychotic boon is attributable to generous U.S. government agencies, especially Medicaid. The Medicaid gravy train has been fueled by Big Pharma corruption so over-the-top that it has been the subject of recent media exposures.
The Associated Press, on August 21, 2007, reported, "A groundbreaking Minnesota law is shining a rare light into the big money that drug companies spend on members of state advisory panels who help select which drugs are used in Medicaid programs for the poor and disabled." Those advisory panels (dominated by physicians) have great influence over the $28 billion spent by Medicaid on drugs, but only Minnesota, Vermont, and Maine require drug companies to report monies paid to physicians. The AP article focused on John E. Simon, a psychiatrist on the Minnesota advisory panel since 2004, who received $489,000 from Eli Lilly between 1998 and 2006. The top drugs paid for by Minnesota Medicaid, according to the AP article, have been anti-psychotic drugs, especially Eli Lilly's Zyprexa.
With the advent of Eli Lilly's serotonin enhancer Prozac at the end of 1987, the general public and doctors began receiving a multi-billion dollar marketing blitz proclaiming that depression is caused by a deficiency of serotonin, and that this deficiency could be corrected by Prozac (and, later, other serotonin enhancer antidepressants such as Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa, Lexapro, and Luvox). Between 1987 and 1997, the percentage of Americans in outpatient treatment for depression more than tripled. Of those in treatment, the percentage prescribed medication almost doubled. In 1985 the total annual sales for all antidepressants in the U.S. was approximately $240 million, while today it is approximately $12 billion. In 2006, the American Journal of Psychiatry reported that the percentage of American adults with major depression in 1991 was 3.33 percent, but by 2001, the percentage had more than doubled to 7.06 percent.
The serotonin deficiency theory of depression was so successfully marketed that it was news to many Americans when Newsweek's February 26, 2007 cover story, "Men and Depression," mentioned that scientists now reject the theory that depression is caused by low levels of neurotransmitters such as serotonin. Thomas Insel, director of the National Institutes of Mental Health, told Newsweek that "a depressed brain is not necessarily under producing something."
The demise of the serotonin deficiency theory of depression should not be considered news in 2007 because in 1998 The American Medical Association Essential Guide to Depression was already stating: "The link between low levels of serotonin and depressive illness is unclear, as some depressed people have too much serotonin." That same year Elliot Valenstein, professor emeritus of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Michigan, in his book Blaming The Brain pointed out, "Furthermore, there is no convincing evidence that depressed people have a serotonin or norepinephrine deficiency."
In 2000 an article in USA Today, "FDA Advisers Tied to Industry", reported that in 55 percent of the FDA advisory meetings on drug approvals, half or more of the FDA advisers had financial connections to the interested drug company; and in 92 percent of these advisory meetings, at least one FDA adviser had a financial conflict of interest. Joseph Glenmullen, in Prozac Backlash (2000), notes that Paul Leber, director of the FDA's division of neuropharmacological drug products, left the FDA in the late 1990s to direct a consulting firm that specializes in advising pharmaceutical companies attempting to gain FDA approval for new psychiatric drugs.
The revolving door of employment is also used by Big Pharma to maintain influence over the National Institutes of Mental Health. In Talking Back to Prozac (1994), Peter and Ginger Breggin report that in 1993 Steven Paul, scientific director of NIMH, resigned to become vice president of Eli Lilly (maker of Prozac and Zyprexa). In 2001 Roche Pharmaceutical (manufacturer of Valium, Klonopin, and other psychiatric drugs) proudly announced that Lewis Judd, a former NIMH director, had joined its scientific advisory board.
To the delight of Big Pharma, NIMH uses taxpayer monies to fund researchers who are financially connected to pharmaceutical companies. One important example is the "Sequential Treatment Alternatives to Relieve Depression (STAR*D)," a $35 million U.S. taxpayer-funded study that proclaimed the effectiveness of antidepressant treatment. The results of STAR*D were widely reported by the corporate media. Unfortunately, the NIMH press release about STAR*D excluded the fact that STAR*D researchers received consulting and speaker fees from the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture the antidepressants studied in STAR*D, and this fact went unreported by the corporate media. Also not in the press release and unreported is the fact that STAR*D researchers failed to include a placebo control and failed to incorporate relapse rates in the overall results. So in reality, STAR*D antidepressant results were no better than the customary placebo results or the results of no treatment at all: this also unreported by the corporate media.
The corruption by Big Pharma of the FDA and NIMH is not difficult when these agencies' overseer, the U.S. Congress, has also been corrupted by Big Pharma. Billy Tauzin, a former Republican congressperson from Louisiana, is one example. Tauzin, as chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, helped shepherd passage of the Medicare prescription drug law: a bonanza for Big Pharma. Soon after this favor to Big Pharma, Tauzin became head of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), Big Pharma's trade organization. Tauzin's annual salary as head of PhRMA (as reported on April 1, 2007 by 60 Minutes) is $2 million.
Unwilling Guinea Pigs: The Foster Care Children
"The FDA encourages studies in pediatric patients. Clinical trials involving children and orphans are therefore legal and not unusual."
-- GlaxoSmithKline, e-mail to Democracy Now!
In the summer of 2004, Liam Scheff, an independent investigative journalist published the story of Incarnation Children's Center in New York, where experimental and highly toxic AIDS drugs were forcibly administered to foster children of the State. Originally published in the article, The House That AIDS Built, the story was subsequently carried by The New York Press with the title: Orphans on Trial. Children refusing medication were surgically implanted a tube to allow direct injection of drugs into the stomach. In November that same year, the BBC broadcast a video on the Incarnation story: Guinea Pig Kids.
To gain access to hundreds of HIV-infected foster children, federally funded researchers promised in writing to provide an independent advocate to safeguard the kids’ well-being as they tested potent AIDS drugs. But most of the time, that special protection never materialized, an Associated Press review has found. The research funded by the National Institutes of Health spanned the country. It was most widespread in the 1990s as foster-care agencies sought treatments for their HIV-infected children that weren’t yet available in the marketplace. (experimental.) The research was conducted in at least seven states: Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Colorado and Texas - and involved more than four dozen different studies. The foster children ranged from infants to late teens, according to interviews and government records.
Several studies that enlisted foster children reported that patients suffered side effects such as rashes, vomiting and sharp drops in infection-fighting blood cells, and one reported a "disturbing" higher death rate among children who took higher doses of a drug, records show. The government provided special protections for child wards in 1983. They required researchers and their oversight boards to appoint independent advocates for any foster child enrolled in a narrow class of studies that involved greater-than-minimal risk and lacked the promise of direct benefit. Some foster agencies, including those in Illinois and New York, required researchers to sign a document agreeing to provide the protection regardless of risks and benefits. However, researchers and foster agencies told AP that foster children in AIDS drug trials often weren’t given such advocates, even though research institutions promised many times in writing to do so. Illinois officials believe none of their nearly 200 foster children in AIDS studies got independent monitors. New York City could find records showing 142 - less than a third - of the 465 foster children in AIDS drug trials got such monitors, even though city policy required them.
The Foster Care Children of New York
Children, too sick to move or speak, lie sprawled around a playroom. Some sit in wheelchairs amid younger kids tottering aimlessly, their coordination hindered by severe brain damage. Others are deformed, their limbs twisted. Many of the little ones have tubes surgically implanted to pump milky-white fluid through holes in their stomachs. These wards of a New York City orphanage are human guinea pigs. HIV-positive and some only a few months old, they have been enrolled in toxic experiments without the consent of guardians or relatives. Many of these children were taken forcibly from their homes by decree of a seemingly benevolent municipal agency, the Administration for Children's Services (ACS). Most of these drug trials were co-sponsored by giant pharmaceutical companies and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In conjunction with the ACS, hospital administrators, doctors and their subordinates helped to carry out the experiments, which apparently led to severe injury, deformation, brain damage and even death for some of the subjects.
In New York City more than 23,000 children are either in foster care or independent homes supervised by religious organizations on behalf of the local authorities. Most of these kids are black or Hispanic. Some are born addicted to crack; others are HIV-positive. For more than a decade, the ACS admits, 465 children have been forced to receive dubious experimental cocktails provided by such pharmaceutical firms as Merck, Bristol-Myers Squibb, MicroGeneSys, Biocine, Glaxo Wellcome and Pfizer. There have been allegations that these clinical trials have killed children. What is certain is that most of the experiments were cruel and unnecessary.
"They tested these very highly experimental drugs, Phase 1 and Phase 2" says Vera Sharav of the Alliance for Human Research Protection. "Why didn't they provide the children with the current best treatment? That's the question I have. Why did they expose them to risk and pain when they were helpless? Would they have done those experiments with their own children? I doubt it."
In studies conducted under the auspices of the foster-care system, children were administered multiple concoctions simultaneously, at up to eight times the usual doses. No one seemed terribly concerned what effects AZT, Nevirapine and vaccines for herpes and chicken pox would have on the kids.
"We're talking about serious, serious side effects," says Dr. David Rasnick, a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley, who specializes in AIDS research. "These children are going to be absolutely miserable... they're going to have cramps and diarrhea, and their joints are going to swell up. They're going to roll around the ground, and you can't touch them."
Rasnick describes some of the drugs administered in the experiments as "lethal." For example, Nevirapine can cause severe liver toxicity. Another potential side effect is Steven Johnsons Syndrome, which is characterized by painful flaking of the skin.
Government documentation (available at ClinicalTrials.gov) lists some of the experiments carried out on children. One involved a herpes treatment; another gave subjects double doses of a measles vaccine. One trial involved administering cocktails of drugs with side effects that included severe abdominal pain, muscle wastage and organ failure. How could this happen in America?
Since the 1980s, activists have been pressuring the government to rush new AIDS drugs onto the market. Since then, Liam Scheff maintains, the relationship between the NIH, FDA, and drug companies has grown incestuous. Scheff, the investigative reporter who originally broke this story and brought it to the BBC, claims that drug companies were motivated to co-sponsor orphan drug studies with the NIH "to keep old, failed drugs like AZT on the market."
"When a profitable drug fails in one population," Scheff explains, "its manufacturer will try to find a use for it in another. With AIDS drugs, they've dumped drugs that harmed and even killed adult males into pregnant women and their children."
"A drug company only has to alter a drug slightly, or simply change its name," he continued, "to be able to claim a new use. They run it through new clinical trials co-sponsored by the NIH, a taxpayer-funded government agency. As such, the NIH publishes lots of data and claims it's fighting the war on AIDS, which justifies its growing budget. Conversely, drug companies get to run their old, failed drugs through new trials subsidized by taxpayers. It's a win-win situation. The only losers are orphans."
The NIH will partner with a hospital and a government-sponsored foster-care system. Suddenly, they have an endless supply of subjects on which to test-sick youngsters with no guardians.
"You would not expect too many parents to volunteer their children for such experiments," says the Alliance for Human Research Protection's Vera Sharav. "This means that if the researchers want to do the experiments on children, they are going to look for vulnerable children whom they can get. And when you have a city government agency accommodating them, that is the biggest betrayal of those children. They don't have anyone but the city agency that is their guardian on paper."
How could anyone believe that drugs which were proven to be devastatingly toxic to adults might benefit infants or children?
"When asked by a reporter or a city council person, the doctors will say they're offering the most advanced treatment to these kids," Scheff says. "That's not true. If you review the specific drugs used in the studies, it becomes obvious that that's totally contradictory." Scheff goes on to explain why the NIH and the FDA don't restrain the drug companies: "The NIH and the FDA are the drug companies. It's unclear anymore where one stops and another begins. It's the same if I say that General Dynamics and Raytheon are the Department of Defense. The NIH is an organization that works as a liaison between the drug companies and the public they too often pretend to serve. The job of the NIH is to keep drug companies in business, and less and less to serve the public."
People do things for a reason, good or bad," says 15-year-old Carlos (not his real name), who was reluctant to be interviewed. "We have to forgive them for what they do." Soon after being born to an HIV-positive mother, Carlos was sent to the Incarnation Children's Center, a New York City nursing facility for children and adolescents with HIV or AIDS, and has spent most of his life in foster care facilities. From a distance, Carlos looks like a typical urban teenager: reversed baseball cap, bomber jacket hanging off his shoulders and baggy jeans. On close examination, his frailty is starkly apparent. The youth stands 5-foot-10, but his arms and legs are so thin, they appear as if they'd snap at the slightest touch. His eyes are sallow, sunken and better fitted for a man 50 years older. Today, Carlos lives in Harlem with his aunt, a teacher. She was frightened that if the ACS heard that he'd spoken to the press, the boy could be taken away from her and put back on the experiments once again. It was around ten years ago that Carlos had been removed from his family after their refusal to continue administering drugs at home, because they were making him ill. Twice he'd ended up on life support. But the ACS knew best. Carlos was placed in a children's home, which had become a virtual conveyor belt of sick kids on which doctors could test new drugs. He was perfect: Not only was the boy black, poor, and HIV-positive, but also his family couldn't afford a private attorney. Having taken him into its care, the ACS became his official guardian. Incarnation Children's Center is under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of New York's Catholic Charities. The Center is housed in a refurbished convent in upper Manhattan. In 1992, Incarnation partnered with nearby New York-Presbyterian Hospital and became a testing ground for clinical drug trials. Since the late 1990s, children have been used in experiments. If a child refused to take a given medication, he or she was force-fed through a tube surgically inserted into the stomach. Both Incarnation Children's Center and its public relations firm refused to comment about activities within the facility.
Jacklyn Hoerger was a pediatric nurse at Incarnation for more than five years. She says doctors there insistent that any of the children's pain or suffering had nothing to do with the experimental drugs. "At the time, it did not occur to me that anything was wrong," Hoerger recalls. "If they were vomiting, if they lost their ability to walk, if they were having diarrhea, if they were dying, then all of this was because of their HIV infection." Hoerger changed her mind after she and her husband had adopted two little girls from the home. Despite receiving the utmost care and attention, their conditions continued to deteriorate.
"I gave them good-quality food," Hoerger says, "and the best private schooling they could get, occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy and tutoring, the best psychologist that I could find on all levels, and I just didn't seem to be making any headway. The only thing that was left was the medication that I was giving them."
Hoerger took the children off the drug regime and, almost immediately, their health and happiness visibly improved. For the first time they were able to go swimming and cycling. Both the kids' social worker and mental-health visitor were delighted. When the ACS discovered that their mother had stopped administering the girls' medications, there was a knock on the door.
"It was a Saturday morning and they had come a few times unannounced. So when I saw them at the door, I invited them in, and they said that this wasn't a happy visit. And at that point they told me that they were taking the children away. I was in shock; I couldn't believe it."
For refusing to administer drugs, Jacklyn Hoerger lost the children and was also convicted of child abuse. Four years later, she still has no idea what happened to the girls that she came to love. According to records, more than 50 children in 13 experiments from Incarnation were offered up for experiments. An unknown number of others came from foster homes and other children's facilities under the supervision of the ACS, which was granted far-reaching powers in the 1990's by then-Mayor, Rudolph Giuliani. After a particularly horrific child-abuse case, literally thousands of children were effectively rounded up and placed in foster care. "They're essentially out of control," says David Lansner, a family lawyer in New York. "I've had many ACS case workers tell me, 'We're ACS. We can do whatever we want.' And they usually get away with it."
Inexplicably in 2002, the trials at Incarnation suddenly stopped. But documentation shows that similar experiments continue at up to six other locations in New York City's metropolitan area.
The Most Shocking Revelation: Killing With AIDS Drugs
As reported by Nobel Prize winner, J. Michael Bestler, M.D.
"People like to find a cause for events, preferably a singular cause. And preferably with a little bit of the strange and exotic. HIV fits this perfectly.
"I just began to doubt the HIV hypothesis about 15 years ago in the infancy of the AIDS hysteria, and then I encountered the work of Peter Duesberg, professor of molecular and cellular biology at the University of California at Berkeley. My doubts coalesced into a conviction, AIDS is not the result of HIV infection. So here goes, and no one is going to like this but when Duesberg and I share the Nobel Prize in Medicine, remember I told you so.
"AIDS results from unhealthy circumstances over a prolonged period of time, poor hygiene, poor physical habits, poor diet, chronic use of drugs, or a weird life style combining all of these factors as is found in the active homosexual life. We have known for many years the active homosexual has a shortened life span. Blood samples taken from these men while living or at autopsy reveal large volumes of HIV, but HIV did not cause AIDS, which is the name we have given to this pattern of disease and death.
"But in the 1980's and 1990's, when investigators found the HIV, they proudly proclaimed the discovery of the cause of AIDS. It was HIV. Eureka! They were terribly wrong. The cause of AIDS was and is physical debilitation brought on by chosen life style or more commonly, as in Africa, brought on by malnutrition and neglect. HIV is a spectator virus, an opportunistic virus taking advantage of an already weakened immune system. It lives in many of us who are doing just fine. But health investigators under the spur of public concern falsely identified HIV as a killer virus and they began the chemical assault on this innocent bug.
"Most of the drugs used in their initial assaults were murderous drugs we used in the early 60's to treat some cancers. We had stopped using them because they were killing more patients than the cancers were, but we reactivated these killer drugs to attack HIV, and the death rate from AIDS shot skywards, but it wasn't the virus that was killing, but rather these enormously lethal drugs we were pouring into these already severely weakened patients. Now in desperation, health officials employed even more lethal drugs, and the death rate climbed again. Panic. It's an epidemic! Do we remember those hysterical claims that soon almost all of us would be struck by AIDS. However, it was an epidemic caused not by HIV, but by deadly poisons posing as medicines.
"With a little more time researchers developed drugs not quite so toxic, and the death rate from AIDS leveled off, and began to even drop. These facts are ignored, or hotly denied because an entire industry and medical specialty has grown-up directed to the treatment of AIDS, supposedly caused by HIV. HIV was just a poor benign virus just trying to make a living when suddenly all hell broke loose. Crazy-eyed medical investigators and the happily collaborating drug companies are making a handsome living in pursuit and annihilation of HIV. But HIV is tough and it will be around long after this huge industry has gone the way of the Stanley Steamer."
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