Consumer Reports has been around since 1936 when mass media advertising began. As an independent, non-profit organization their mission is to work for a fair, just and safe marketplace and provide consumers with unbiased reviews of products so that shoppers can protect themselves from false, devious advertising claims.
They accept no outside advertising money or free samples and maintain their own experts to test products.
To their credit they have, at least in part, pierced the veil of the antipsychotic drug fraud and spoken out to those who trust their reports.
They cite a tripling during the last 10-15 years of prescriptions for atypical antipsychotics and correctly observe there has been no epidemic of serious mental illness in kids but only an epidemic in off-label use of such drugs – usage not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
They write that “a disproportionate number of those prescriptions are written for poor and minority children, some as young as age 2.
Doctors are prescribing antipsychotics even though there’s minimal evidence that the drugs help kids for approved uses, much less the unapproved ones, such as behavioral problems.”
Off-label use of psychotropic medications for children includes psychiatric “diseases” such as “oppositional defiant disorder”, attacking other children or temper tantrums.
It may be legal, but it certainly is not done with the purest of motives in mind.
For example, it’s illegal under FDA rules for a drug maker to directly market its drug to physicians for unapproved use.
Yet in 2012, GlaxoSmithKline paid a $3 billion fine in the largest health-care fraud settlement in U.S. history. Part of what the drug company did was promote the antidepressant Paxil for children and adolescents even though it was not approved for them. It also hid studies that found the drug was ineffective and potentially dangerous for kids.
Not to be outdone, competitor Janssen Pharmaceuticals and two other subsidiaries of the drug manufacturer Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay more than $2.2 billion to settle criminal and civil claims due to deceptive marketing of the antipsychotic Risperdal and other products they make. The U.S. Department of Justice argued that the companies marketed two antipsychotics for uses that were never proved safe and effective and downplayed the serious risks. The company practice of paying kickbacks to physicians and pharmacies for prescribing and promoting the drugs was also established in the settlement.
These fines are just “cost of business” compared to the immense profit from drug sales.
Consumer Reports writes that drug makers make money in other ways. “They can save millions of dollars by not submitting an application or safety and efficacy testing results to the FDA to get a drug approved for treating a second (or third) condition or for a new group of patients, like children. And they profit from additional sales of a drug prescribed for unapproved uses. A result is that many of those uses have little or no scientific support.”
What does have scientific support is that these drugs have known horrendous side effects.
Weight gain and higher cholesterol levels have been well documented. Recently a new report added type-2 diabetes to the list of side effects accompanying atypical antipsychotics.
Researchers at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville, TN studied children and young adults in the state’s Medicaid program between 1996 and 2007. In that time frame 28,858 young recipients were put on antipsychotic drugs – Risperdal, Seroquel, Abilify or Zyprexa. Another 14,429 control patients were prescribed alternative medication.
The results published in Aug. 21 in the journal JAMA Psychiatry showed that the kids taking the antipsychotics tripled their risk of developing type-2 diabetes within the first year of taking the drug. The risk increased further as cumulative dosages increased. This increased risk lasted for at least a year after the medications were stopped.
Mental and emotional problems come with the drugs, too.
An historic study called “Lifetime Suicide Rates in Treated Schizophrenia: and 1994-1998 Cohorts Compared.” is the largest study ever to be done on anti-psychotic drugs in the treatment of schizophrenia.
It found patients treated with these drugs to be 20 times more likely to commit suicide.
Antipsychotics were shown to create violence, psychosis and suicide not to solve it.
Dr. Trevor Turner, clinical director in a London university hospital said about this study, “If their figures are carefully boiled down, they show that in the course of 5 years the historical cohort had 1 suicide in 594 individuals, whereas the present-day cohort had 7 suicides in 133 individuals. Thus, patients treated with new age antipsychotic drugs have a 20-fold increased risk of suicide compared to those treated without drugs in Victorian times.”
The drug companies attempt to force parents into a corner where the medication is the only hope to save their child. There are no alternatives presented that don’t include a dose of drugs. But outside the psychiatric sphere, medical doctors, nutritionists and counselors have discovered many other ways to handle the symptoms the psychiatrist labels as “mental disease.”
Children derive great benefit from just talking with a caring adult who can listen help the child discover and find a solution for his problems. Ministers, parents and teachers had great success in the past before communication could only be done by a professional counselor.
Simple things like exercise and education in new activities can bring a child’s attention out into the environment around him with good effect.
In the nutrition field Dr. Mercola is one of many speaking out against anti-psychotic drugs and presents many studies on the benefits of proper diet and nutrition in eliminating the mental and emotional symptoms that are labeled as psychiatric diseases.
His program begins with simple medical analysis of insulin, weight, blood pressure and cholesterol levels and how to bring them to optimum. He includes data on the proper foods and nutrition needed for physical and mental health. For some children just stopping intake of sugar, fructose and processed foods has ended their behavior problems. Programs to remove various toxins found in the modern world have helped some cases.
Dr. Mecola calls attention to new nutritional studies in the mental field. He feels the work of Dr. Andrew Saul and Dr. Abram Hoffer is most promising. Their book published in 2012 is called Niacin: The Real Story: Learn about the Wonderful Healing Properties of Niacin.
Dr. Hoffer was an MD and PhD who passed away in 2009 at age 91. He wrote over 600 reports and 30 books and treated many thousands of psychotic patients successfully with high doses of niacin – B3 – a very inexpensive vitamin that has no harmful side effects.
It appears that if the profit motive is taken out of addressing the behavior problems of children all but a very small per cent could be helped permanently and restored to happy social lives without the use of psychotropic medications.
Encouragingly, Consumer Reports wrote the following about atypical antipsychotics rather than giving its usual list of recommendations.
“Prescribing these drugs to young people is controversial because they have not been well-studied, and the long-term safety and effectiveness for children and teens is unknown. Because of the lack of evidence, we are unable choose a Best Buy atypical antipsychotic for children with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, pervasive developmental disorders, or disruptive behavior disorders. Instead, our medical advisors recommend that parents carefully consider the potential risks and benefits. Children with those disorders should receive comprehensive treatment, which includes cognitive behavioral therapy, parent management training, and specialized educational programs, along with any potential drug therapy.”