Archive for June, 2017

The Skinny on the Skin Drug

Saturday, June 17th, 2017

We saw a TV commercial recently for the drug Otezla® (generic apremilast), from Celgene Corporation, which was approved by the FDA in 2014 for the treatment of symptoms of moderate to severe plaque psoriasis (skin lesions) and psoriatic arthritis.

Our attention was caught by the statement that Otezla is associated with an increase in adverse reactions of depression, suicidal thoughts, or suicidal behavior. We wondered why, since this drug is not used for psychiatric diagnoses, and psychiatric drugs all have such potential side effects.

The drug inhibits the enzyme phosphodiesterase 4 (PDE4), but the exact way in which it is supposed to work “isn’t completely understood”.

The estimated wholesale price is $22,500 for a year of treatment.

Digging deeper, we find that apremilast is an analog of thalidomide which was primarily prescribed as a psychotropic sedative or hypnotic and which was banned in 1961 for causing disastrous birth defects. Depression is also a common side effect of thalidomide.

In 1998 thalidomide was approved again by the FDA for use in multiple myeloma, a type of cancer, because it apparently had some kind of anti-inflammatory effect. It still is not known how it is supposed to work. Analogs of thalidomide were then developed to try to limit the side effects; an analog is a compound having a chemical structure similar to that of another one, but differing from it in respect of a certain component. Analogs are developed to see if they can improve upon the function of the base drug.

Well, apparently this one side effect — depression — did not get eliminated in the transformation from thalidomide to apremilast.

If someone has been given the full range of pros and cons for a drug or other treatment (i.e. full informed consent), with all applicable alternatives and even the alternative of no treatment, and then decides to take the drug or treatment, they made a fully informed decision. But we know that such informed consent is rarely, if ever, obtained prior to a psychiatrist or other doctor writing a prescription for a psychotropic drug. Click here to learn more about informed consent.

Missouri Foster Care Class Action Lawsuit

Monday, June 12th, 2017

LANDMARK FEDERAL LAWSUIT CHARGES MISSOURI WITH PERVASIVE FAILURE TO MONITOR THE PRESCRIPTION AND ADMINISTRATION OF POWERFUL PSYCHOTROPIC MEDICATIONS TO FOSTER YOUTH

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

PRESS CONTACTS:
Holly Aubry; haubry@childrensrights.org; 646.943.0541
Lewis Cohen; lcohen@youthlaw.org; 510.835.8098, ext 3045
Jessica Lillie Ciccone: lillieciccone@slu.edu; 314.977.7248

JUNE 12, 2017 – JEFFERSON CITY, MO. – Watchdogs Children’s Rights, National Center for Youth Law (NCYL) and Saint Louis University School of Law Legal Clinics have today filed a landmark, civil rights complaint against Jennifer Tidball, Acting State Director of the Missouri Department of Social Services and Tim Decker, Director of the Children’s Division of DSS, on behalf of all minor children and youth who are or will be placed in Missouri’s foster care custody.

The first class action lawsuit to shine a federal spotlight solely on the overuse of psychotropic medications among vulnerable, at risk populations – such as Missouri’s 13,000 children in foster care – the complaint alleges longstanding, dangerous, unlawful and deliberately indifferent practices by the defendants, including:

  • Failure to ensure that powerful psychotropic drugs are administered to children safely and only when necessary
  • Failure to maintain complete and current medical records for children in foster care and to provide those records to foster parents and health providers to ensure effective and well-informed treatment
  • Failure to maintain a secondary review system to identify and address high risk and outlier prescriptions to children when they occur
  • Failure to assure and document meaningful, informed consent in relation to the administration of these drugs

“Children in Missouri foster care are routinely being placed on psychotropic drugs without adequate safeguards in place. The foster care system’s abject failure to oversee and closely monitor the use of these powerful drugs exposes Missouri’s most vulnerable citizens to serious, and even permanent injury,” explains Sara Bartosz, Deputy Director of Litigation Strategy at Children’s Rights. “It’s a systemic violation of children’s constitutional right to be free from harm while in state custody. Missouri must do far better by its children.”

According to Bill Grimm, Directing Attorney of Child Welfare at NCYL, “For foster children, psychotropic medications, especially antipsychotics, are often used as chemical restraints and not to treat the limited illnesses for which the FDA has approved their use in children. Few children, even those children and adolescents in foster care, suffer from schizophrenia or bipolar disorder – the predominant diagnoses for which antipsychotics have FDA approval for use with children. Yet antipsychotics are some of the most frequently prescribed drugs given to foster children. This is what we’re seeing in Missouri. It’s an outlier, and children’s lives are at risk.”

Given the lack of research on the safe and appropriate use of psychotropic medications in children, it is of particular concern when children are exposed to “outlier” prescribing practices: being given medications that are not approved by the FDA for use in children, combining multiple psychotropic medications, dosages that exceed recommended amounts, or given these drugs at a very young age.

“The lack of oversight and coordination of care in Missouri is disturbing,” adds co-counsel, John Ammann, professor and supervisor in the Legal Clinics at SLU LAW. “Foster youth endure incomprehensible trauma and abuse, but rather than receiving therapeutic counseling and mental health support to treat underlying issues, they are too frequently given powerful psychotropic medications to control their behavior. The foster children of Missouri deserve better.”

“These children are being prescribed too many powerful and potentially dangerous drugs, at unacceptable dosages and at too young an age. The federal government has cautioned strongly against these practices. It’s time that Missouri is held accountable to the children in its care it promised to protect,” states Sara Bartosz.

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ABOUT CHILDREN’S RIGHTS
Fighting to transform America’s failing child welfare, juvenile justice, education and healthcare systems is one of the most important social justice movements of our time. Through strategic advocacy and legal action, Children’s Rights holds state governments accountable to America’s most vulnerable children. A national watchdog organization since 1995, Children’s Rights fights to protect and defend the rights of young people, because we believe that children have the right to the best possible futures. For more information, please visit www.childrensrights.org.

ABOUT NATIONAL CENTER FOR YOUTH LAW
The National Center for Youth Law is a non-profit law firm that helps low-income children achieve their potential by transforming the public agencies that serve them. For more information, please visit www.youthlaw.org.

ABOUT SAINT LOUIS UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF LAW LEGAL CLINICS
For more than for 40 years the Saint Louis University School of Law Legal Clinics have created a tradition of social justice by providing invaluable legal services to the greater St. Louis community. Dedicated to the University’s Jesuit mission of advocating for the disadvantaged and the betterment of the community at large, the Legal Clinics provide unique and challenging opportunities in a supportive experiential learning environment for every student who desires a clinical experience, please visit law.slu.edu/clinics.

[http://www.childrensrights.org/press-release/landmark-federal-lawsuit-charges-missouri-with-pervasive-failure-to-monitor-the-prescription-and-administration-of-powerful-psychotropic-medications-to-foster-youth/]

The Racism of Psychiatry

Sunday, June 11th, 2017

We generally think of racism as prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.

In Nazi Germany, this idea took on a slightly different slant, as the racial hygiene law of 1934 targeted individuals not necessarily of a different race, but against anyone considered abnormal; against any individual who might pass on what was considered abnormal to their descendents.

“Schizophrenia” is a strategic label as “Jew” was in Nazi Germany. If you want to exclude people from the social order, you must justify this to others, but especially to yourself. So you invent a justificatory rhetoric. That’s what the really nasty psychiatric words are all about: they are justificatory rhetoric, labelling a package “garbage”, it means “take it away! Get it out of my sight!” etc. That’s what the word “Jew” meant in Nazi Germany; it did not mean a person with a certain kind of religious belief. It meant “vermin!”, “gas him!” I am afraid that “schizophrenic” and “sociopathic personality” and many other psychiatric diagnostic terms mean exactly the same thing; they mean “human garbage,” “take him away!”, “get him out of my sight.” [Dr. Thomas Szasz, from “Interview with Thomas Szasz” in The New Physician, 1969]

Since 1939 enforced sterilization and systematic mass murder in psychiatric institutions was planned and organized in Berlin by psychiatrists, and was the blueprint for the subsequent murders in the gas chambers of extermination camps in occupied Poland starting in 1941. Psychiatrists used the Nazi regime to implement their plans for the elimination of those whom they declared to be untreatable. The killings survived the end of the Nazi regime and continued until 1949. Today these killings survive by psychiatric coercion and violence using involuntary commitment, enforced drugging with psychotropic drugs, lobotomy (brain mutilation), electric shock (electroconvulsive therapy or ECT), transcranial magnetic stimulation, and vagus nerve stimulation.

Among the almost unknown crimes of the 20th century by psychiatry is the mass murder by starvation of patients in psychiatric institutions. At least 25,000 German prisoners of psychiatry were starved to death in psychiatric institutions. [Hungersterben in der Psychiatrie 1914-1949, Heinz Faulstich]

Psychiatry, originally a medical practice treating dysfunction, abandoned that practice and abandoned therapeutic approaches, instead focusing on safeguarding society from abnormality by removing the abnormalities. The racism of psychiatry is now a racism against the abnormal, against the individual as the bearer of some deficiency that could be passed on to their descendents. Psychiatry is no longer interested in searching for cures; they are only interested in removing what they cannot cure.

Click here for more information about the real crisis in mental health care today.

Terrorized by Climate Change

Saturday, June 3rd, 2017

The psycho-pharmaceutical industry has jumped full-time onto the climate change bandwagon. You don’t even need to believe in climate change, since there is also the satirical “Climate Change Denial Disorder”.

Scholarly articles are being published claiming that climate change affects mental health, along with the typical cries to fund more research, prescribe more antidepressants, and prepare for the worst. Here is an example quote: “Increasing ambient temperatures is likely to increase rates of aggression and violent suicides, while prolonged droughts due to climate change can lead to more number of farmer suicides. … Increased frequency of disasters with climate change can lead to posttraumatic stress disorder, adjustment disorder, and depression.” [Mental health effects of climate change, Indian J Occup Environ Med. 2015 Jan-Apr; 19(1): 3–7.]

The DSM-5 does not lack for possible disorders that can be tied to some climate change disaster for which antidepressants can be prescribed. Here are a few:

“Disruptive mood dysregulation disorder”
“Other specified trauma- and stressor-related disorder”
“Unspecified trauma- and stressor-related disorder”
“Specific phobia, Natural environment”
“Posttraumatic stress disorder”
or any one of over thirty depression-related disorders.

It used to be called “Seasonal Affective Disorder” (SAD). Although this is no longer classified as a unique disorder, it can still be diagnosed as a “mood disorder with a seasonal pattern.” SAD is considered a subtype of major depression or bipolar disorder. An example of a SAD diagnosis might be “Major Depressive Disorder, Recurrent Episode, Moderate, With Seasonal Pattern”.

Here we have the “dangerous environment” in full bloom. A dangerous environment only persists if we fail to spread a safe environment across the world. What makes a dangerous environment? Confusion, conflict and upset.

The Merchants of Chaos who promote a dangerous environment make it seem as threatening as possible so that they can profit from it. How do you counter this? You spread the truth. Behind the truth comes the calm. You may still need technology to handle climate change, but you don’t need antidepressant drugs to do so.

The issue is not “is there or is there not climate change?” The issue is, get rid of the psychiatrists who are promoting and profiting from the confusion. Find Out! Fight Back!