Saturday, October 08, 2005

Kid scripts for anti-psychotics down

This is good news. The WaPo reports there has been a nearly 20% drop in pediatric prescriptions for anti-depressant and anti-psychotic drugs. Whether this is a result of public fear arising out of emerging data that suggests the drugs increase suicidal tendencies in children or that doctors are becoming skeptical of the drug companies' internal short term studies is unclear. Either way, there is undeniably a growing call from the public for accountability from the pharma corporations and our own FDA regarding how these drugs make it onto the market with apparently insufficient testing.

The pharmas of course pooh-pooh the idea that they are perpetrating dangerous drug use with fraudulent studies and don't believe they should be held responsible.

Alan Goldhammer, associate vice president for regulatory affairs at the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said long-term studies should be conducted by public health agencies at taxpayer expense.

"I don't think they fall within the province of the pharmaceutical industry because they are so costly and time-consuming that it would probably bring drug development to a halt," he said. "There would not be the funds to develop new drugs if one focused on one drug and tried to know everything about it."
That's choice coming from an industry that enjoys the highest profits of any industry in the nation. In fact, aren't we always being told that they need to fleece Americans by charging five time more for medicines here than they do in other countries precisely to pay for R&D? They could use the money they spend on PR for their new "improved" drugs on longer trials instead of pushing nearly untested dope on kids.

To put it into context, take this disturbing statistic.
The federal government's top mental health researcher said it "was amazing" that nearly a quarter of all antipsychotic prescriptions for children are going to those younger than 9, the vast majority of them boys.

"I am concerned we are going to see an increase in . . . antipsychotics in this population," said Insel. "Have we gone from one set of medications of known benefit and of questionable risks to a group of medications with unknown benefits and well-known risks?"
Perhaps this answers Acidman's question. Maybe the reason for escalated playground violence is not so much that kid's don't have the supervision and support of two parent families anymore, as much as it is that they are simply overmedicated with dangerous but legally prescribed drugs.

And yet we spend billions a year in a futile attempt to keep kids from trying a herbal plant which of course was what they were doing before heavy duty anti-psychotic pharmaceuticals became the vogue in psychiatric circles. There was less violence in schools then and I suspect less suicide among young people as well. Draw your own conclusions.


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