Stimulant Heart Risk In Kids Prompts Calls For Registry For All Child Deaths Linked To Psychotropic Drugs
1,300 Child & Adolescent Deaths Per Year Needs Urgent Federal Response
The American Heart Association this week recommended that doctors conduct a physical exam and an electrocardiogram before prescribing children stimulant drugs like Ritalin that could cause cardiac arrest. It also recommended a Ã¢â‚¬Å“Sudden Cardiac Death/Arrest registry in childrenÃ¢â‚¬Â be established. But the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a group that has been investigating and exposing the potentially deadly effects of stimulants and other psychiatric drugs for nearly 40 years, says a federal registry is needed for all pediatric deaths linked to prescribed psychotropic drug use.
The Food and Drug Administration found 19 sudden deaths in children on stimulant drugs while another 24 died of heart-related problems over a period of five years. However, doctors only report 1 to 10 percent of adverse reactions to the FDA. In analyzing the FDA’s Adverse Drug Reaction database for all psychiatric drugs (stimulants, antipsychotics, antidepressants, sedatives), CCHR estimates that the combined total of child deaths each year is more than 1,300. Stimulants are prescribed for Ã¢â‚¬Å“Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder,Ã¢â‚¬Â which many medical experts say is not a legitimate disease but an excuse to chemically control boisterous childhood behavior. There are no blood or urine tests, brain scans or X-rays that can diagnose ADHD. Ã‚Â
CCHR President Ms. Jan Eastgate said, Ã¢â‚¬Å“The pharmaceutical-psychiatric conflicts of interests that make stimulant prescriptions and sales a $3 billion a year industry in the US should be overridden for the safety of children. All psychiatric drugsÃ¢â‚¬â€the sales of which have soared to $28 billion a yearÃ¢â‚¬â€have serious risks. A federal registry should record the death of every child and adolescent who dies from physical complicationsÃ¢â‚¬â€heart attacks, strokes, sudden death, respiratory failure and suicideÃ¢â‚¬â€while taking a prescribed psychiatric drug. Much stronger drug information warnings are also needed if we are ever going to prevent future deaths.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Eastgate said the first Ritalin death reported to CCHR was in 1986 when 13-year-old Samuel Grossman from Travis County, Texas, died from a heart attack while taking the drug. An autopsy found an enlarged heart caused by long-term stimulant use. At the time, Guenter Lewandowski, a spokesman for RitalinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s manufacturer, ignored the evidence and stated, Ã¢â‚¬Å“We see no connection between Ritalin intake and the mention of deaths.Ã¢â‚¬Â
In March 2000, Matthew Smith, 14, of Michigan, was skateboarding when he suffered a heart attack and died. HeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d been taking Ritalin since he was 7 years old. The coroner determined that MatthewÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s heart showed clear signs of the small blood vessel damage that stimulant drugs and amphetamines cause. Then, psychiatrists told the media that the death was unrelated to Ritalin.
It was another six years before parents were told the truth. Health Canada acted first when in May 2006 it issued a public advisory caution that stimulant drugs could increase heart rate and blood pressure that could result in Ã¢â‚¬Å“cardiac arrests, strokes or sudden deaths.Ã¢â‚¬Â The FDA limped behind for three months, waiting until August before issuing a similar warning.
Eastgate says that drugging children, even infants as young as one, has become psychiatryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s cash cow and is placing more and more children at risk. Increasing prescription rates should be a warning bell, she said, for federal action and a registry to monitor deaths related to psychiatric drugs. IMS Health found that between 1995 and 1999 stimulant drug use rose 23 percent; the use of Prozac-like drugs for the 7-12 age group was up 151 percent; for kids 6 and under it soared 580 percent. For children under 18, the use of mood stabilizers other than lithium increased 4,000 percent and the use of new antipsychotic drugs rose nearly 300 percent. From 2001 to 2005, the use of antipsychotic drugs in children and teens grew another 73 percent and today, 2.5 million American children are prescribed the drugs that can cause life-threatening diabetes, while 1.5 million children are prescribed antidepressants that can drive them to suicide.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Sudden death and cardiac arrest due to stimulants are just the tip of the iceberg. We need more effective monitoring of psychotropic drug-related deaths if we are going to save childrenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s lives,Ã¢â‚¬Â Eastgate said.
CCHR was established in 1969 by the Church of Scientology and eminent New York psychiatrist Thomas Szasz. The author of more than 30 books on psychiatry, Dr. Szasz says there are Ã¢â‚¬Å“catastrophic consequences of child psychiatry, such as the psychopathologizing of child misbehavior and the mass poisoning of Ã¢â‚¬ËœhyperactiveÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ children with Ritalin and other neuroleptic drugs.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Archive for April, 2008
Jim Gottstein is a lawyer in Alaska and is the founder of the organization PsychRights,Â the Law Project for Psychiatric Rights (http://psychrights.org/) which has been around about 25 years, working to bring the mental illness system around to a culture of recovery.
He had a successful verdict for a patient in the summer of 2006, in which the patient’s rights to refuse forced drugging were upheld.
He brought to our attention a paper that he wrote and presented at a seminar in 2005 (“How the Legal System Can Help Create a Recovery Culture in Mental Health Systems”). We are presenting it to you as it contains much useful information on what is required to successfully handle involuntary commitment hearings. Download and read the paper here.
While involuntary commitment laws enrich the psychiatric industry, they not only deprive individuals of their freedom of choice, but milk millions of health insurance dollars annually from private, state, national and military health plans. And while psychiatrists and psychiatric hospitals are today being investigated nationally and in state hearings for insurance fraud, mistreatment of patients, sexual violations and other crimes, the crux of their power – involuntary commitment laws -receives no focused attention.
Gottstein’s concept of a culture of recovery means the elimination of both involuntary commitment and the forced use of antipsychotics and other psychiatric drugs, in favor of the least restrictive alternative.
Antipsychotics, of course, are not a path to recovery. Several court rulings acknowledge the side effects and how patients have a right to decide what goes in their bodies. Of course, most all less restrictive alternatives to antipsychotics have been suppressed out of sight, making it appear that antipsychotics are the only answer, especially in a psychiatrist’s professional judgment.
According to Gottstein, the elimination of the forced use of psychiatric drugs is attainable through upholding of Constitutional Rights and extant legal opinions which have been subverted by:
1) Lying psychiatric expert witnesses,
2) Legal systems that accept, without evaluation, the utterances of such experts, and
3) The counter-intention and general failure of public defenders to actually defend the legal rights of the involuntarily committed person.
The paper shows an actual instance where mental health systems have knowingly acted in violation of the law in the guise of doing what is best for the patient (forced drugging)!
Point #3 above is what Gottstein emphasizes as the why of involuntary commitment. He cites one study that showed that the legal representation of people with mental disabilities was so bad that patients had a better chance of being released in a commitment hearing defending themselves pro se (without the aid of an attorney).
One of his projects is to cultivate willing lawyers who will zealously defend such plaintiffs and to have coordinators in every state working with these lawyers to actually handle cases.