Saturday, December 23, 2006

Study on Antipsychotics is Startling

In Antipsychotics, Newer Isn't Better
Drug Find Shocks Researchers
By Shankar Vedantam
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 3, 2006

Schizophrenia patients do as well, or perhaps even better, on older psychiatric drugs compared with newer and far costlier medications, according to a study published yesterday that overturns conventional wisdom about antipsychotic drugs, which cost the United States $10 billion a year.
The results are causing consternation. The researchers who conducted the trial were so certain they would find exactly the opposite that they went back to make sure the research data had not been recorded backward.

The study, funded by the British government, is the first to compare treatment results from a broad range of older antipsychotic drugs against results from newer ones. The study was requested by Britain's National Health Service to determine whether the newer drugs -- which can cost 10 times as much as the older ones -- are worth the difference in price.

There has been a surge in prescriptions of the newer antipsychotic drugs in recent years, including among children.
Read the whole article here

Friday, December 22, 2006

A Therapist I Could Use

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Crazy Movies

Suddenly Last Summer starring Elizabeth Taylor as the crazy (wearing a dress from Paris in the mental institution) and Kate Hepburn as her disturbed aunt was on TV night before last. The scenes of the crazy people showed them all laughing maniacally. It has been my observation that most people in mental health care are very quiet and not animated in any way. Also I am no expert but I do not think people go crazy after a single observed event, though prolonged stress can cause major problems.

I also saw a Stephan King movie called Secret Window with Johnny Depp. As Johnny gets more and more crazy, he sleeps more and more. Actually psychotic breaks come after sleeplessness.

Movies don't usually get anything right about mental illness. The closest was One Flew over the Cuckoos Nest when everyone lines up for their drugs and are portrayed as passive.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Manufacturing Madness

This article by George Monbiot was Published in the Guardian 12th December 2006. It was written to condemn torture and sensory deprivation but he also talks a little about psychiatric problems with our own prisoners.
At Pelican Bay in California, where 1200 people are held in the isolation wing, inmates are confined to tiny cells for twenty-two and a half hours a day, then released into an “exercise yard” for “recreation”. The yard consists of a concrete well about 12 feet in length with walls 20 feet high and a metal grill across the sky. The recreation consists of pacing back and forth, alone(10).

The results are much as you would expect. As National Public Radio reveals, 10% of the isolation prisoners at Pelican Bay are now in the psychiatric wing, and there’s a waiting list. Prisoners in solitary confinement, according to Dr Henry Weinstein, a psychiatrist who studies them, suffer from “memory loss to severe anxiety to hallucinations to delusions … under the severest cases of sensory deprivation, people go crazy.” People who went in bad and dangerous come out mad as well. The only two studies conducted so far – in Texas and Washington state – both show that the recidivism rates for prisoners held in solitary confinement are worse than for those who were allowed to mix with other prisoners. If we were to judge the United States by its penal policies, we would perceive a strange beast: a Christian society that believes in neither forgiveness nor redemption.

Not mentioned was the wide use of atypical neuroleptics by the penal system to pacify so that money can be saved on guards. It is well known that withdrawal from these drugs brings on psychosis. Another instance of manufacturing madness.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Weasel Words

From the drugs own literature:
It is believed that ZYPREXA works by adjusting the imbalance of chemicals in the brain that may cause your symptoms. By doing so, ZYPREXA may help restore more normal thinking and mood.

Risperidone (Jansen's RISPERDAL®).
How does RISPERDAL work?
Symptoms of schizophrenia are thought to be caused by imbalances of chemicals in the brain. These chemicals are called dopamine and serotonin. Exactly how RISPERDAL works is unknown. However, it seems to readjust the balance of dopamine and serotonin. This may help relieve symptoms of anxiety, depression, suspiciousness and delusions.
Such suggestive, hedged wording—"it is believed," "imbalance . . . that may," "ZYPREXA may help," "are thought to be," "Exactly how RISPERDAL works is unknown." "It seems to," "this may help"—apparently does help to avoid damaging lawsuits for false claims.

Follow the Money

The most startling fact about 2002 is that the combined profits for the ten drug companies in the Fortune 500 ($35.9 billion) were more than the profits for all the other 490 businesses put together ($33.7 billion) . . . When I say this is a profitable industry, I mean really profitable. It is difficult to conceive of how awash in money Big Pharma is. -Marcia Angell, former Editor-in-Chief of the world's most prestigious medical journal, The New England Journal of Medicine.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The forced medication of children

This article in an old Mother Jones magazine will probably shock you as it did me. The sheer volume of drugs given to a 13 year old because she was disruptive is staggering. Another example of drug companies running the government's health plans.

Legal Drug Pushers

Legal Drug Pushers written by Maria Tomchick several years ago in Mother Jones magazine talks about the obscene profits of the pharmaceutical industry and also this which I thought very interesting:

In addition to marketing costs, pharmaceutical companies take huge markups in devious ways. Most drug companies belong to a larger holding company that also owns a chemical company. The chemical company can make the drug chemicals in its own plant, then "sell" them to its sister division, the pharmaceutical company, at a high markup; this is called "transfer pricing." When consumers complain about prices, the pharmaceutical company then points to the high price it had to pay for "raw materials"—but they bought the chemicals from themselves and manufactured the high markup.
In addition to padding their own pockets, pharmaceutical companies still get a special tax credit (subsidy) from the U.S. government (U.S. taxpayers) when they manufacture the "raw materials" into pill form. The Section 936 tax credit applies to any company that sets up a manufacturing plant in Puerto Rico. Other industries have benefited from this tax credit too, but by the early '90s drug companies were collecting more than all other industries combined. This little loophole is being phased out, but it still saves the pharmaceutical industry over a billion dollars every year

The site has a problem with one chart overlapping the article, but just switch to the print version for the full poop.