Tag Archives: pharmaceutical industry

Care For Your Mind (CFYM): A New Advocacy Group

On September 27, Psychiatric Services, a journal of the APA, published an article called Blog Brings Doctors, Patients Together to Address MH Issues.  It was written by Vabren Watts, a Psychiatric News Journalist.

The article is a booster piece for the recently-formed CFYM (Care For Your Mind):

“…an online forum for people with mood disorders—along with their families and psychiatrists—to discuss the mental health care system and changes that may affect them under health care reform.”

The article tells us that CFYM is a

 “…joint venture by the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) and Families for Depression Awareness (FFDA).”

The author trots out the usual statistics:

“According to the National Institute of Mental Health, mood disorders affect 21 million people in the United States annually, are linked to 90 percent of the nation’s suicides, and cost $23 billion a year in lost workdays. Despite the prevalence of these illnesses and the serious sequelae, only about half who need care receive adequate treatment.”

Susan Weinstein, JD, director of programming and marketing at FFDA is quoted as saying:

“We are looking at the Affordable Care Act to open a lot of doors for people to get mental health care access.”

Cheryl Magrini, Ph.D., vice president of the DBSA Board of Directors is quoted:

“The ACA can be so confusing….I’m finally learning about what it means for people to get access to insurance and what actions to take that will lead us down the quickest road to access it,”

CFYM has a “Welcome” page and an “About” page.  The content of these is what you’d expect, e.g.:

“Our hope is that, by learning about current mental health care issues and engaging in the Care for Your Mind community, we will all come together to help increase everyone’s access to, and improve the quality of, mental health care in America.”

 and

“By learning about the issues and engaging in this dialogue, you will help increase everyone’s access to, and improve the quality of, mental health care in America.”

At the end of the “About” page, however, you’ll find this:

“The Takeda Lundbeck Alliance’s involvement in Care for Your Mind (CFYM) is solely as a financial supporter. The Takeda-Lundbeck Alliance was not, and is not, involved in the organizing of CFYM, creation of the content on CareForYourMind.org, or content or development of enduring materials created for or related to CFYM.”

I had never heard of the Takeda Lundbeck Alliance, but I discovered on the Internet that it was formed in 2007:

“…to Develop and Commercialize a Portfolio of Novel Compounds in the US and Japan for the Treatment of Mood and Anxiety Disorders”

And CFYM is trying to give us the impression that this alliance’s funding comes with no strings attached.  Let them highlight a few hard-hitting survivor articles and see how quickly the funding evaporates.

And speaking of funding, DBSA, one of the creators of CFYM, receives a great deal of pharma money.  According to their annual report for 2011, the latest year I could find, Lilly, Forest, Janssen, and Pfizer all made contributions above $25,000; Merck contributed in the $10,000-24,999 range; and Alexza in the $2,500-4,999 range.  In the  2010 report, AstraZeneca’s contributions were in the $150,000-499,999 bracket, and in the 2009 report, both AstraZeneca and Wyeth were in the $150,000-499,999 bracket!

I was unable to find an annual report for FFDA.  However, according to Dollars for Docs, Scott Aaronson, MD, one of FFDA’s Advisory Board members, received more than $300,000 of pharma money between 2009 and 2012.

CFYM’s inaugural post Access to Care was written by Ron Manderscheid, PhD.  He’s the Executive Director of the National Association of County Behavioral Health and Development Disability Directors (NACBHDD).

In the inaugural article, Dr. Manderscheid trots out the standard statistics: e.g.

“Mental disorders affect 1 in 4 US adults (45.6 million) and children/youth (15.6 million)”

He also sings the standard lament that only 40% of these ever get mental health services.  Here are some quotes:

“Without diagnosis and treatment, people get sicker faster.”

“Access to evaluation and diagnosis can help prevent or delay the onset of these conditions. Access to early intervention can move people with diagnosed mood disorders and other mental health conditions toward health and recovery.”

Since their inauguration on May 1 of this year, CFYM has been busy.  They have put up 67 posts in six months.  Their general themes are:

  • promotion of the medicalization of human problems
  • need for increased access to treatment
  • treatment consists primarily of drugs – especially modern drugs
  • the need for mental health preventive programs and screening  in schools
  • need for mental health preventive programs and screening in the workplace
  • expansion of mental health coverage
  • working to bring about parity for mental health coverage

PHARMA FUNDING

Intuitively we know why pharma funds these advocacy groups.  But there’s an interesting article in PharmExec October 2004, that clarifies the issues neatly and succinctly.  It’s called Public Relations: Why Advocacy Beats DTC, and was written by Josh Weinstein, a pharmaceutical executive.

Josh criticizes the in-your-face direct-to-consumer marketing of pharma products.

“…exercises of this type do little to dissuade consumers from the belief that pharma companies have more money than they know what to do with—and those ads are not good for brands, or the industry, in the long run.”

Then the author lays out what he calls the “responsible alternative”:

“On the other hand, working with advocacy groups is one of the most accomplished means of raising disease awareness and enhancing the industry’s image as deliverer of new and tangible value to patients. Often this advocacy work is unbranded, stimulating consumers to ask doctors about their symptoms. Then, companies can compete by promoting their brands to physicians.” [Emphasis added]

CFYM and its sponsors DBSA and FFDA are just cogs in the huge pharma-psychiatric machine in which people’s lives are sacrificed for the sake of corporate profits.

The Dangers of SSRI’s

SSRI’S AND SUICIDE

Bob Fiddaman has a post up today called MHRA Consultant Calls for Antidepressant Use in Young.  The article highlights some of the dangers associated with SSRI’s, and also describes some of the attempts to suppress or discount the significance of this information.

Apparently in 2010, Swedish psychiatrist Göran Isacsson, MD, PhD, published a paper in Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica.  The piece was titled Antidepressant medication prevents suicide in depression, and reported that of a group of 1,077 depressed people who had committed suicide, only 15.2% had measurable amounts of antidepressants in the blood stream at the time of the suicide.

This claim was challenged by Janne Larsson, a Swedish journalist, who asked to see the actual data.  This request was consistently denied, but:

“After many legal wrangles the Karolinska Institutet were forced to admit in court that the actual figure quoted by Isacsson [15.2%] was way off the mark. The true percentage of those who had antidepressants in their blood when they committed suicide was a staggering 56%.”

Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica retracted Isacsson’s article.

SSRI’S UNSAFE FOR CHILDREN

Bob also draws attention to a recent article in BMJ (open) Suicide-related events in young people following prescription of SSRIs and other antidepressants: a self-controlled case.  One of the authors is Stephen J. W. Evans, BA, MScC, Professor of Pharmacoepidemiology, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.  He is an expert member of the Pharmacovigilance (Drug Safety) and Risk Assessment Committee at the European Medicines Agency.

Evans et al are proposing that MHRA’s position, that SSRI’s are not recommended for children, be re-evaluated.  MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) is approximately the UK equivalent of the FDA.

SSRI’S AND BIZARRE BEHAVIOR

Bob then lists six fairly high profile incidents in which people who were taking SSRI’s went “crazy.”

“Depression did not cause any of the above bizarre incidents. Depression symptoms, do not include holding up garages, impersonating police officers, robbing banks, running around wielding an axe, stealing shopping trolleys and driving a stolen golf cart whilst firing random bullets on a golf course.”

and asks the question:

“Were they all misdiagnosed or did they all have a reaction to the medication [SSRIs] they were taking at the time?”

Bob’s article is detailed and compelling, and well worth reading.  We, on this side of the debate, have made a great deal of headway, but pharma-psychiatry has not given up.  There are still profitable markets out there, and thar’s gold in them thar pills.

We need to keep up the pressure; keep exposing the lies and the destructiveness.  Please read Bob’s article, and pass it on.

Protecting the Children

 

I’ve recently read an article called Safeguarding a Generation of Children from Over-diagnosis and Prescription of Psychotropic Drugs.  It’s written by Dave Traxson, who works as an Educational Psychologist in the UK, and is posted on the  DxSummit website, an online platform for rethinking mental health, a forum in which the concepts underlying pharma-psychiatry are questioned and challenged.

Here are some quotes from the article:

“I view the trend towards mass medication of children with mind altering and potentially toxic drugs and ‘drug cocktails’ as a form of psycho-economic imperialism. By that I mean that young peoples’ developing minds are being colonized, using biochemicals, for huge commercial profit and in effect, increased social control. This has resulted from carefully constructed ‘business plans’ in boardrooms which some years ago saw the population of children in the western world as a great market expansion opportunity. The pharmaceutical companies have reaped the huge financial rewards of this rich and very bitter harvest ever since.”

“…the use of psychotropic drugs will result in young people who will end up returning to the repeated pattern of using psycho-pharmaceutical interventions whenever they face a problem in life, thereby continuing this very profitable vicious cycle of pharmaceutical dependency.”

“More and more psychologists in Britain have principled concerns about labeling a still developing child in such a pejorative way and the harm done to them by the internal attributions of abnormality that may well result. Rather than a within child biomedical explanation of the difficulties experienced, they prefer a more holistic and socially contextualised hypothesis that includes a range of the complex web of interacting factors that usually explain challenging behavior.”

I strongly recommend this article.

At the present time, the criticisms against psychiatry are mounting in both frequency and intensity.  The widespread drugging of the population – including very young children – is being exposed for what it is: profitable drug pushing.  And psychiatrists are being exposed for what they are: overpaid drug pushers.

Pharma-psychiatry has no valid response to our criticisms.  So they have adopted two broad strategies.  The first is what in political circles is called spin.  This consists essentially of three elements:  deny or minimize the accusations; deflect the criticism; and attack the critics.  We’ve seen lots of this.

The second broad strategy is ride out the storm.  Pharma-psychiatry has been the subject of criticism for decades, but in the past has always managed to marginalize its critics and continue expanding its business.

But this time it’s different.  The attacks on psychiatry have reached a point where they can no longer be dismissed.  But we need to maintain the momentum.  We need more articles like the one by Dave Traxson.

At present almost any magazine that you pick up in a waiting room will contain at least one psycho-pharma ad.  We see pictures of beautiful, smiling people – the epitome of functionality, success, vitality, and vigor.  And how did they get like that?  By eating pills.  These are powerful messages.  People are still being swayed, psychiatrists are still writing the prescriptions, and pharmaceutical companies are still reaping huge profits.

.Neither psychiatry nor its pharma allies are showing any indication of backing off.  They’ve been onto a good thing for fifty years, and as far as they’re concerned, it’s full speed ahead.   On June 18, 2013, Jeffrey Lieberman, MD, President of the APA stated:

“We have the…moral high ground. We must not be defensive or even timid…”

This man was elected by the APA members and presumably reflects their views on these matters.  They still believe that, with spin and deception, they can ride the storm.

We need to convince them otherwise.  Please spread the word.  Keep up the pressure.  They’re not going to stop until they’re made to stop.

The New Holy Grail: Dysfunctional Neural Circuits

There’s a new article on Psychiatric News titled Change, Challenge, and Opportunity: Psychiatry Through the Looking Glass of ResearchIt’s dated October 17, and was authored  by Steven Hyman, MD, and Jeffrey Lieberman, MD.  Thanks to Mental Health Law on Twitter for the link.

Dr. Lieberman is President of the APA.  Dr. Hyman was Director of NIMH from 1996 to 2001, and is now the Director of the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research at the Broad Institute.  The Broad Institute is affiliated with Harvard University, and Dr. Hyman is a Harvard Distinguished Service Professor.

This is the third in a series of three APA articles on Change, Challenge and Opportunity.  This article focuses on “…the current status of biomedical research and how it will impact our field and practice.”

The authors begin by telling us that research has brought psychiatry to an “…exciting but treacherous juncture.”  Psychiatry, we are assured, is poised “…on the brink of transformative advances in diagnostic methods and therapeutic modalities.”  But just when biomedical research is gaining momentum in understanding the brain and mental disorders, funds for this research are contracting.

The authors attribute this shrinkage of research monies to cuts in the US government’s budget, and to the fact that the pharmaceutical industry has been funding less and less psychiatric research since 2010.

Then they write:

“Consequently, it is critical for psychiatrists, neuroscience researchers, and patient advocacy groups to make a case for funding by the government and foundations and to help convince industry to resume psychiatric research, albeit on a new and better scientific footing.”

So what we have here is a call to rally the troops:  the psychiatrists, the neuroscience researchers, and the patient advocacy groups.  Let’s get everybody writing letters to the government, to private foundations, and to pharma, encouraging them to restart the gravy train.  And this time, despite a track record of 40 years of blatantly flawed and dishonest research, we are assured that the future research will be “…on a new and better scientific footing.”  Is it my imagination, or is there a hint of an admission in there that psychiatric research in the past wasn’t all it was cracked up to be?  Is Dr. Lieberman, who previously assured us that psychiatry had the moral high ground and had nothing to be defensive about actually suggesting that perhaps all was not above board in the bio-psychiatric-pharma research partnership?

And patient advocacy groups.  I imagine that Drs. Hyman and Lieberman are thinking of groups such as NAMI, who were funded by pharmaceutical dollars and who steadfastly promoted the party line. But today, many client advocacy groups call themselves survivors, and are highly critical of psychiatric practices.  So the good doctors might want to clarify that they’re not calling on all patient advocacy groups, but only on those select few who can be relied upon to toe the psychiatric party line.

In their discussions of these matters, the authors have not addressed a question which to me seems fairly fundamental:  why is pharma withdrawing its financial support of psychiatric research?

For the past 40 years or so, psychiatry and pharma have forged a corrupt and mutually beneficial alliance.  The precise nature of the arrangement was complex, and the details developed over time, but the general outline was as follows.  Pharma poured enormous sums of money into the development of psychiatric drugs, and into “research” to establish the safety and efficacy of these drugs.  And psychiatrists endorsed these activities with their signatures, their licenses, their reputations, and their credentials.  Individual psychiatrists were paid handsomely for this cooperation, all of which was kept well under the radar until exposed by Senator Chuck Grassley and others in recent years.

But now the bubble has burst.  The sham has been exposed.  Pharma is losing lawsuits and is incurring regulatory fines and penalties on a regular basis.  Drugs that had been “proven” safe and effective under the flawed standards of the psychiatric-pharma alliance are now known to be dangerous, and no more efficacious than placebos.  And there are increasing indications of a link between the drugs and the mass shootings.  Psychiatry’s reputation is in tatters, and pharma is trying to escape its tainted embrace.  Of course, they’ll go on selling the drugs as long as the profits outstrip the legal settlements, but it is clear that they are poising themselves to abandon the ship.

I think almost everybody can see this very clearly – everybody, that is, except Drs. Hyman and Lieberman, who appear to believe that the marriage can be saved if psychiatrists, neuroscience researchers, and patient advocacy groups will write letters to the pharmaceutical industry encouraging the resumption of funding for psychiatric research – on “a new and better scientific footing.”

To put the matter in perspective, here’s a short list of legal suits and settlements pertaining to psychiatric drugs:

GlaxoSmithKline to Plead Guilty and Pay $3 Billion to Resolve Fraud Allegations and Failure to Report Safety (Paxil and Wellbutrin)

Bristol-Myers Squibb to pay $515M settlement (Abilify)

Lilly Said to Be Near $1.4 Billion U.S. Settlement (Zyprexa)

Drug Giant AstraZeneca to Pay $520 Million to Settle Fraud Case (Seroquel)

EU Commission Fines Danish Drugmaker Lundbeck And 8 Other Pharma Companies Over Pay-For-Delay Deal (citalopram.  Lundbeck fined 93.8 M euro)

South Carolina Attorney General reaches $26M settlement against AstraZeneca for “willfully misleading consumers on the potentially serious side effects of the anti-psychotic drug Seroquel”

The Risperdal Lawsuits Keep On Coming: Kentucky Sues J&J (an on-going case as of May 2013)

Johnson & Johnson Settles 3rd Risperdal Lawsuit for $158M (Texas, Risperdal)

Justice Department Announces Largest Health Care Fraud Settlement in Its History (Pfizer, ziprazidone)

J & J Settles Risperdal Lawsuit on Opening Day of Trial (Risperdal personal injury suit in Philadelphia)

State settles lawsuit over lack of warnings on dangerous drug – Eli Lilly to pay $15 million in first of many cases (Alaska, Zyprexa)

GENETICS AND STEM CELL TECHNOLOGY

Drs. Hyman and Lieberman tell us that:

“Some of the most exciting scientific research on the brain and mental disorders has been in the areas of genetics and stem-cell technology.”

They then go into some technical details on these two topics, and the exciting therapeutic possibilities that will be unleashed once funding is restored.  But don’t hold your breath.

On genetics:

“What will it ultimately mean for psychiatric practice? Often it is thought that genetics will provide important tools to improve diagnosis. This will eventually be true, but given the large number of relevant genes that remain to be identified and the fact that some risk genes are shared across disorders, the utility for diagnostics will initially be very limited.” [Emphasis added]

On stem cell technologies:

“The main difference from our current approach to drug development is that instead of having to guess about which proteins to target with drugs (or as is now the case, sticking with existing targets and hoping for better results), we could allow the genes that are in the causal chain of pathogenesis to point the way. There are no guarantees, and certainly not enough funding for this research, but it truly appears to be a new way and a new day.” [Emphasis added]

There’s one thing that the authors got right:  it is indeed a new way and a new day – but not in the sense they intended.

Jon Rappoport’s Blog

If you haven’t seen Jon Rappoport’s blog, please take a look.  Here are two quotes from his September 22 post, Psychiatry targets college students for destruction:

“The concept called ‘mental disorder’ is a sales pitch backed up by extraordinary PR, money, academic gibberish, and government-granted official status.”

“People need to wake up to the fact that the whole panoply of human suffering has been co-opted, taken over, redefined, re-translated into a lexicon of pseudoscience.”

And another quote from his September 28 post, Alexis, Lanza, Holmes and the Psychiatric State:

“Close to 50 years ago, psychiatry was dying out as a profession. Fewer and fewer people wanted to see a psychiatrist for help, for talk therapy. All sorts of new therapies were popping up. The competition was leaving medical psychiatry in the dust.

As Dr. Peter Breggin describes it in his landmark book, Toxic Psychiatry, a deal was struck. Drug companies would bankroll psychiatry and rescue it. These companies would pour money into professional conferences, journals, research. In return, they wanted ‘science’ that would promote mental disease as a biological fact, a gateway into the drugs. Everyone would win—except the patient.

So the studies were rolled out, and the list of mental disorders expanded. The FDA was in on the deal as well, as evidenced by their drug ‘safety’ approvals, in the face of the obvious damage these drugs were doing.

So this is how we arrived at where we are. This was the plan, and it worked.

Under the cover story, it was all fraud all the time. Without much of a stretch, you could say psychiatry has been the most widespread profiling operation in the history of the human race. Its goal has been to bring humans everywhere into its system. It hardly matters which label a person is painted with, as long as it adds up to a diagnosis and a prescription of drugs.”

Jon addresses the spurious and destructive nature of psychiatry in no-nonsense, hard-hitting language.  His material is relevant and current, and very much worth reading.

Thanks to Tallaght Trialogue on Twitter for the link to this blog.

Another Mass Shooting: Link to SSRIs?

A mass murder occurred yesterday, September 16, at the U.S. Navy Yard in Washington D.C.  There are reports of at least 12 dead, and several wounded.  Early news stories describe the perpetrator as having “mental issues,” and it is reported that he “…had been treated since August by the Veterans Administration for his mental problems.”  It is likely that this “treatment” involved the prescription of psychiatric drugs.

And still no government inquiry into the link between psycho-pharmaceutical products, especially SSRI’s, and acts of violence/suicide.

Why does the government not take this simple step to uncover the facts?  Could it be because the pharmaceutical industry is one of the top contributors nationwide to politicians’ re-election campaigns?

According to OpenSecrets.org:

“Pharmaceutical companies, which develop both over-the-counter and prescription drugs, have been among the biggest political spenders for years.”

In an article titled Big Pharma’s Influence Machine, Farron Cousins, of Ring of Fire Radio states:

“But when it comes to affecting policy in Washington, D.C., no organization or industry has gamed the system better than the pharmaceutical industry.”

[Ring of Fire Radio is a nationally syndicated talk show program.  The presenters, according to Wikipedia, see their goal as “exposing people whom they consider to be ‘corporate fat cats, polluters and media spinmeisters.'”]

What’s needed is an impartial government inquiry.  Who could argue with that?

 

The Burden of Mental ‘Illness’

Thanks to Graham Davey and Richard Pemberton on Twitter for the link to an interesting article in the August 29, 2013 issue of the Lancet.  It’s titled Global burden of disease attributable to mental and substance use disorders: findings from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010, and was written by Harvey A. Whiteford, et al.

The Global Burden of Disease survey is a systematic, scientific attempt to quantify the comparative magnitude of disease, injuries, and risk factors by age, sex, and geography over time.

The work is coordinated by the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, and is funded largely by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The work is carried out by various universities and by the World Health Organization (WHO).

The Lancet article focuses on the global burden of disease attributable to mental and substance use disorders in 2010.

The survey uses three basic measures to quantify disease burden:

-years of life lost to premature mortality (YLLs)
-years lived with disability (YLDs)
-disability-adjusted life years (DALYs’ equals YLL plus YLD)

FINDINGS

The 2010 survey findings are presented in the follow table:

Proportion of Total DALYs 95% UI Proportion of total YLDs 95% UI Proportion of YLLs 95% UI
Cardio, circulatory diseases 11.9% (11.0-12.6) 2.8% (2.4-3.4) 15.9% (15.0-16.8)
Diarrhoea, lower respir. infections, meningitis, other infectious diseases 11.4% (10-3-12.7) 2.6% (2.0-3.2) 15.4% (14.0-17.1)
Neonatal disorders 8.1% (7.3-9.0) 1.2% (1.0-1.5) 11.2% (10.2-12.4)
Cancer 7.6% (7.0-8.2) 0.6% (0.5-0.7) 10.7% (10.0-11.4)
Mental, substance use disorders 7.4% (6.2-8.6) 22.9% (18.6-27.2) 0.5% (0.4-0.7)
Musculoskeletal 6.8% (5.4-8.2) 21.3% (17.7-24.9) 0.2% (0.2-0.3)
HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis 5.3% (4.8-5.7) 1.4% (1.0-1.9) 7.0% (6.4-7.5)
Other non-communicable diseases 5.1% (4.1-6.6) 11.1.% (8.2-15.2) 2.4% (2.0-2.8)
Diabetes, urogenital, blood, endocrine diseases 4.9% (4.4-5.5) 7.3% (6.1-8.7) 3.8% (3.4-4.3)
Unintential injuries other than transport injuries 4.8% (4.4-5.3) 3.4% (2.5-4.4) 5.5% (4.9-5.9)

 

As can be seen, mental and substance use disorders account for 7.4% of all DALYs worldwide, and 22.9% of total YLDs.  They are in fact the leading cause of YLDs.  The YLL for this category is only 0.5%.  The authors attribute this to the fact that deaths in this population are usually coded to the specific physical cause of death.

DISCUSSION

This is an impressive paper, and it is obvious that the survey was comprehensive, and cost a great deal in terms of money and other resources.  I would guess that the survey is as accurate and reliable as something of this magnitude can be.

There are two problems, however.  Firstly, the mental and substance use disorders listed in the DSM are not illnesses in any meaningful sense of the term.  They are indeed problems, and sometimes very serious problems, but the notion that they are illnesses is an assumption widely promoted by psychiatry and by their pharmaceutical allies.  The fact that these problems are listed in the survey side  by side with real illnesses like HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, diabetes, etc., is a tribute to the efficiency of the psychiatry and pharmaceutical propaganda machine, but this doesn’t make the notion true.  One can say that geese are swans for a hundred years, but geese will still be geese.  As the spurious medicalization of all human problems expands, so the global burden of these “illnesses” will expand.

The second problem is more subtle.  In the table shown earlier, it is clear that the problems labeled mental and substance disorders have relatively little impact in the category years of life lost, but a very high impact in the category of years lived with disability.  In fact, in the latter category, it is the highest item.

On first sight, this might seem quite significant, and a casual reader might conclude that mental and substance disorders are very disabling.  However, the DSM criteria for specific disorders routinely include the requirement:  “The symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.”  “Social” and “other” areas of functioning are difficult to  assess in  a psychiatric interview, and so this requirement is usually met by noting that the person has been missing work.  And, or course, years lost to disability is assessed by substantially the same metric – days missed from work.

So when the Global Burden of Disease survey “discovers” that people with “Mental and substance disorders” score high on years lost to disability, all they’ve really “discovered” is that people who are missing work a lot are missing work a lot.

Psychiatry is riddled with this kind of tautological nonsense.

IMPLICATIONS

The implications of the survey’s findings are grave.  Firstly, the survey endorses the spurious notion that “mental illnesses” have the same kind of ontological reality as real illnesses.  Secondly, they establish the “fact” that these illnesses have a high prevalence rate and a high disability impact.  Thirdly – and most importantly – the survey will result in increasing levels of funding being channeled into the “treatment” of these fictitious illnesses.  And “treatment” means drugs.  So more validation and more profits for pharma, and more destructive side effects for the victims of this worldwide scam.

Psychiatry is like a virus – a virus that has truly gone global.

 

Never Mind The Facts; Just Sell More Pills

There’s an interesting article, recently published in Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy, on Springer Link.  It’s titled Shooting the Messenger: The Case of ADHD,  and it was written by Gretchen LeFever Watson, PhD, et al.

Apparently some of the authors had noted in 1995 a marked increase in the “diagnosis” and “treatment” of the condition known as ADHD in southeastern Virginia.  This is a large urban conglomeration of six different cities, including Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Virginia Beach.

Psychologists in the area formed a school health coalition “…to implement and evaluate interventions to address the problem.”

They soon found themselves under attack by “other professionals with strong ties to the pharmaceutical industry…,” and in 2005, the work of the coalition was terminated.

One of the attacks consisted of an anonymous allegation that Dr. LeFever was falsely reporting high rates of ADHD in order to promote an anti-drugging agenda.

As a result of the termination of the work, the coalition was disbanded, and promising behavioral and public health interventions were discontinued.  Meanwhile, the drugging of the children “diagnosed” with this condition continued to escalate.

The article cites that today, 14% of American children are receiving this “diagnosis” before the age of 18.

One of Dr. LeFever’s most outspoken critics is Russell Barkley, PhD – a psychologist who has written and spoken extensively on the condition known as ADHD.  He also has strong financial ties to pharma ($91,167 in 2009-2011 according to Pro Publica’s Dollars for Docs), and is considered a key opinion leader in the ADHD field.

The Shooting the Messenger article runs to 16 pages, discusses the issues in considerable depth, and is well worth reading.  The general message is that if one takes on pharma-psychiatry and starts having a significant impact, one will come under attack.  In bio-psychiatry, truth is routinely subordinated to the central task of medicalizing an ever-widening range of human problems, and selling drugs to “treat” these fictitious illnesses.

Dr. Lieberman is Back

Courtesy of Carl Elliott via Twitter, I’ve recently read Dr. Lieberman’s latest post on Psychiatric News. It’s called – believe it or not – Time to Re-Engage With Pharma? dated August 1, 2013.  And it’s classic Dr. Lieberman sleight of hand.

His opening statement, for instance, reads:

“Drug companies aren’t held in high esteem by the public these days.”

This may or may not be true.  But note what he’s done.  The issue here is the long-standing and corrupt relationship between psychiatry and the manufacturers of drugs.

But from his first sentence, Dr. Lieberman has taken psychiatry out of the equation.  He has also lumped the makers of legitimate medicines in with the makers of psychiatry’s drugs.

The real problem is that psychiatry has degenerated into little more than a retail outlet for psycho-pharma.  But Dr. Lieberman is not going to discuss that.  Instead, he’ll focus on the “fact” that “Drug companies aren’t held in high esteem by the public…”

Dr. Lieberman provides six reasons for pharma’s alleged unpopularity:

1.  high drug prices
2.  aggressive marketing practices
3.  direct-to-consumer advertizing
4.  efforts to buy influence with physicians
5.  suppression of data on drugs’ dangerous side effects
6.  reduction in innovative drug development

A good deal could be said on each of these points, but let’s just look at number 4: in fact, just one word in number 4:  “efforts.”

The fact is that psycho-pharma has succeeded in buying influence with psychiatrists, and has been doing it for years.  According to a NPR piece titled How to Win Doctors and Influence Prescriptions, paying a doctor $1500 to give a talk “…would see the speaking doctor write an additional $100,000 to $200,000 in prescriptions…” of the company’s drug.

By using the word “efforts,” Dr. Lieberman manages to lay the blame on pharma (obviously cads and bounders), and lets his own profession off the hook.  Note also in item number 4, the use of the term “physicians.”  This serves two purposes.  Firstly, he’s broadening the target for any flak that might be around, and secondly, he is – as usual – trying to promote the notion that psychiatrists are “real” doctors.

Dr. Lieberman concludes his first paragraph by stating:

“…it’s not easy to muster much defense of the pharmaceutical industry.”

But in the next two sentences, he does just that.

“But let’s face it, they need us and we need them. We must recognize the important, beneficial role that drug companies have long played in all areas of medicine.”

Never, I suggest, have cads and bounders been rehabilitated so readily and so forgivingly.

And to drive this forgiveness, Dr. Lieberman exhorts us to remember how much the drug companies have done for us all, including the fact that (and I’m not making this up!)

“…their funding has helped to advance research, public outreach, and training.”

In other words, the very things that are so bad about the pharma-psychiatry relationship (the hijacking of research and the substitution of marketing for training) are actually good.

If the pharmaceutical industry were to disappear tomorrow, how, he asks us

“…would much of the essential treatment development research be funded now that the National Institute of Mental Health is focused increasingly on genetics and basic research?”

This is a nice little dig at Thomas Insel, MD, director of NIMH, who, back in April of this year, announced that his agency would no longer fund research proposals that used the DSM taxonomy to define their target populations.  Dr. Insel’s point was, and presumably still is, that the DSM categories have no validity.  But – and this is the critical point – Dr. Insel’s announcement did not represent a major departure from NIMH’s long-standing position.  They’re still searching for the Holy Grail – the biological bases of “mental illness,” – a notion that the APA has been endorsing and promoting for decades.  DSM is irrelevant in this general context, but it’s a big part of the APA’s perceived legitimacy, and Dr. Lieberman has to pretend that NIMH has now abandoned “…essential treatment development research.”  (Just for the record, neither NIMH nor APA has ever had the slightest interest in promoting essential treatment development research in any valid sense of the term.  Their agenda has always been to prove that all significant behavioral and emotional problems are illnesses.  But that’s a different issue.)

What’s especially interesting in this matter is the fact that 90% of industry-funded­ research finds in favor of the sponsor’s product! (Heres et al 2006)  And this is the kind of research that Dr. Lieberman wants to promote!

In his fifth paragraph, Dr. Lieberman says:

“In psychiatry, past problems arose when companies engaged in aggressive marketing practices in the guise of educational activities and paying clinicians and researchers—so-called key opinion leaders—for their advice or research in ways that were perceived as potential conflicts of interest. The issue came to a head in 2007 when Sens. Herb Kohl and Charles Grassley held hearings on the financial relationships between drug and device companies and psychiatrists and called for corrective and punitive actions. Ironically, somehow in this process, our field became the poster child for physician misbehavior. The attention and criticism prompted universities to adopt stricter ethics and financial-disclosure policies, and professional associations, including APA, to pull back and keep companies at arm’s length.”

Note again, the neat way he extricates psychiatry from blame.  Problems, he tells us, “…arose when companies engaged in aggressive marketing practices in the guise of educational activities.”  Perhaps what we’re supposed to imagine here is that the hapless psychiatrists were kidnapped and spirited away to these exotic locations where they were routinely plied with the best accommodation, food, drink, trinkets, and big piles of money – and got their CE requirements taken care of.  And let’s not forget the APA’s CE Committees who approved these “educational” junkets for credit.  Or perhaps the drug companies forced their hands also.  The poor down-trodden psychiatrists.  How hard it must have been for them!

“…and paying clinicians and researchers—so-called key opinion leaders—for their advice or research in ways that were perceived as potential conflicts of interest.”

So let’s get this straight.  Industry executives stroked the egos of psychiatrists by telling them that they were key opinion leaders, and then paid these same psychiatrists generously for promoting the companies’ products, and all the blame for this goes to the drug executives?  The psychiatrists, whom elsewhere Dr. Lieberman assures us are real doctors who always have their clients’ best interest at heart, were blameless in this matter.  How in the world can he lay all the blame for these corrupt practices on the drug executives – who, after all, make no bones about the fact that they’re in it for the money?  Are we to imagine that the drug guys were throwing these wads of money at the psychiatrists while the latter were saying, “No, please.  No.”?

And the best (worst) of all:

“… in ways that were perceived as potential conflicts of interest.” (emphasis added)

Is he saying that they weren’t really conflicts of interest; that it was all just a big misperception?  Would this meet the APA’s criteria for delusional thinking?

And while we’re talking about “so-called” opinion leaders,” Dr. Lieberman seemed to have no difficulty accepting this particular accolade for himself back in the good old days when the gravy train was going full tilt, before the nasty stuff hit the fan.  On the Columbia University Medical Center site, there is an INVIVO interview of Dr. Lieberman.  It has a lovely picture of him smiling for the camera, and the words “opinion leader” are at the top of the article.  You’ll also find an ad on Amazon.com for Comprehensive Care of Schizophrenia, by Jeffrey Lieberman and Robin Murray.  The blurb concludes with the sentence:  “Edited by two distinguished opinion leaders and written by an internationally eminent team, this text is indispensable for those working in the area.”

“The issue came to a head in 2007 when Sens. Herb Kohl and Charles Grassley held hearings on the financial relationships between drug and device companies and psychiatrists and called for corrective and punitive actions.”

In other words, they all got busted!  Matters came to a head because they all got busted.  The truly dreadful part of this is that until they got busted, psychiatrists, with very few exceptions, went along with the bribery and corruption.  Why hadn’t the APA stamped out these pernicious practices decades earlier?  Why hadn’t “opinion leaders” such as Dr. Lieberman railed against the venality of their colleagues?  Why is it, even today, that the most egregious offenders have never received serious sanctions from the APA or state licensing boards?  And why is it that even today – in this very post – the President of the APA is trying to fob the whole sordid business off as the responsibility of the drug companies?

“Ironically, somehow in this process, our field became the poster child for physician misbehavior.”

No, Dr. Lieberman, it is not ironic.  Psychiatrists were criticized more harshly than real doctors because they were in the forefront by far in the scramble for pharmaceutical money.  See the article Psychiatrists Dominate “Doctor-Dollars” Database Listing Big Pharma Payments at Medscape News.

Dr. Lieberman draws his post to a close by lauding the APA for introducing strict ethical policies for members who participate “… in key programs such as the development of practice guidelines and the revision of DSM.”  Presumably this latter applies to DSM-6, because my recollection is that approximately 70% of the DSM-5 work group had financial ties to pharma (Cosgrove and Krimsky, 2012).  But of course that wouldn’t have been the psychiatrists’ fault.  Those mean old pharmaceutical executives just insist on giving them big piles of money, and the psychiatrists – well, they’re just such nice people that they can’t say no.

Psychiatry is not something good that needs some minor corrections.  Psychiatry is something flawed and rotten.  You don’t have to believe me – just read Dr. Lieberman’s blog post.

And this is the person that American psychiatrists have chosen to be their leader in these tumultuous times.  Psychiatry is truly beyond redemption.

Pharma Mobilizing Consumer Groups Over Drug Trials Data

There was an interesting article Big pharma mobilising patients in battle over drugs trials data in last Sunday’s Guardian, a UK newspaper.  It was written by Ian Sample, the Guardian’s science correspondent.  Here are the two opening sentences:

“The pharmaceutical industry has ‘mobilised’ an army of patient groups to lobby against plans to force companies to publish secret documents on drugs trials.”

“Drugs companies publish only a fraction of their results and keep much of the information to themselves, but regulators want to ban the practice. If companies published all of their clinical trials data, independent scientists could reanalyse their results and check companies’ claims about the safety and efficacy of drugs.”

In political circles in Europe, there is growing momentum towards legislation that would compel drug companies to release all their research data on a particular drug, including results that show negative outcomes and/or adverse side effects.

This movement, which incidentally exists here in the US also, is important because psycho-pharmaceutical companies typically “cherry pick” their in-house data and publish only the results that cast their product in a favorable light.

This is a particular problem because it is very easy to “massage” data to produce the result one wants.  It is noteworthy in this context that 90% of industry-funded research “finds” in favor of the product of the funding company.  (Heres et al, 2006)

For instance, suppose I believe, with a deep and heartfelt conviction, that people of Irish ancestry are lazy wastrels.  (I’m allowed to say things like this because I am myself Irish, so no hate mail, please!)

So I decide to do a piece of research to prove my point.  I go through the Baltimore, Maryland phone book noting each Irish name I come across, and also noting the next non-Irish name, until I have, say, 5,000 of each.  Then I call all these individuals and ask them three questions:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Employed or not employed

And because I’m charming and persuasive, and I don’t call in the middle of dinner, they all answer cooperatively, and I get the following results.

Age(mean) Male Female Emp Unemp
Irish names 42.5 2470 2530 4000 1000
Other names 41.7 2510 2490 4007 973

 

It’s obvious that there is no appreciable difference between the two groups in terms of employment status.  But because I have asked two other questions, (besides employment status), I actually can examine the data in several ways.  Here’s how it works:

I can break the survey groups down into smaller categories:

Irish names, Male, 20-25 vs. other names, Male, 20-25;
Irish names, Male, 25-30 vs. other names, Male, 25-30;
Irish names, Male, 30-35 vs. other names, Male, 30-35;
Etc…

and check the employment/unemployment rates for each sub-category.

By breaking down the data in this way, I have converted my single survey into 20 different surveys (10 for males and 10 for females).  There’s a very good chance that at least one of these will yield a result consistent with my prejudice.

For instance, I might find the following:

Employed Unemployed % UE
Irish names, Male, 35-40 120 180 60%
Other names, Male, 35-40 170 130 43%

 

Now I can publish my results: Males of Irish ancestry aged 35-40 have a 60% unemployed rate vs. 43% for controls.  I make no mention of the fact that I cherry-picked this survey from my original data.  This is a critical omission, because whenever data is sub-divided in this way, the percentages in the sub-divisions never mirror the original result perfectly.  There’s always a measure of scatter.

This is why it’s so important that the psycho-pharmaceutical companies be required to show all their data – so that independent researchers can check for data massaging of this kind.  Incidentally, the example I gave is simplistic.  In practice, there are a great many ways to massage data, some of which are quite sophisticated.

Getting back to the Guardian’s article, it is reported that the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) have drawn up a strategy to combat the push for transparency.  A memo from Richard Bergstöm, director of EFPIA, outlining this strategy, was sent to many pharmaceutical companies, and was leaked by a drug company employee.  The memo mentions “…mobilising patient groups to express concern about the risk to public health by non-scientific re-use of data.”

Here in America it has been obvious for decades that the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has been funded by pharma, and has been their willing mouthpiece with regards to the spurious medicalization of human problems and the pill-for-every-problem solutions peddled by psychiatry.  (There has been some talk recently of NAMI distancing themselves from pharma, but I have seen no clear indications of this yet.)

I’m not familiar with the patient groups in Europe, but it sounds like similar dynamics are at work there.

What strikes me most markedly about these kinds of activities is the self-serving cynicism of the pharmaceutical groups. Their basic objective, of course, is to sell drugs by getting their psychiatry friends to invent more and more “illnesses,” with lower and lower thresholds.  They get psychiatrists to do this in the old-fashioned way – by giving them big bundles of money.

That’s bad enough.  But they then have the gall to cozy up to the victims of their neurotoxic chemicals, convince these victims that they are their friends, and recruit them to promote the pharma-for-all message.  This also is achieved with big bundles of money.  It’s very difficult for a cash-strapped, grass-roots organization to resist the overtures of a smiling, highly-trained drug rep with an open checkbook.

The fact that the director of EFPIA felt sufficient confidence in his association’s relationships with patient groups to instruct his member companies to “mobilize” them, speaks volumes.

We already know, from the corrupted research, and the ghost-writing, that pharma routinely subordinates client welfare to corporate profits.

But the notion that patient groups would join them in their fight against research transparency suggests that they view the members and leaders of these groups as little more than mindless minions.  How could increased transparency pose any kind of a threat to client welfare or public health?  How could pharma imagine that patient groups would buy this garbage?

But wait?  Psychiatrists have been buying the same garbage for decades.  As Julie Andrews almost said:  “A spoonful of money helps the medicine go down.”

And let’s not forget, if the memo had not been leaked, this “mobilization” would be going on right now, right under our noses.

Pharma-psychiatry is something flawed and rotten.