Ablechild April 2014 Update

April 30th, 2014 | Blog, News Archive

“Never underestimate the power of a few committed people to change the world, it is the only thing that ever has.”

 Dear Ablechild Members:

We’ve been busy and April proved to be a very rewarding month for Ablechild. We’re so pleased to have the opportunity to bring you up to speed on our efforts on your behalf.

We began the month with Ablechild, Co-founder, Sheila Matthews, attending the April 2nd Autism Awareness Day in Stamford, Ct., where Matthews was able to meet other like-minded people and gather support for Ablechild’s MedWatch System legislative language.

Matthews and New York Ablechild, Co-founder, Patricia Weathers, also attended the April 5th Connecticut Citizens Defense League (CCDL) “Rally at the Capitol,” in Hartford.  Matthews and Weathers manned a table to distribute information about Ablechild’s efforts to elicit support for the MedWatch System legislative language.

Continuing our push to gain support for the MedWatch System, Ablechild was invited to be a guest on two radio shows in April.  First, on April 10th, in response to the horrific stabbing incident in Pennsylvania, Ablechild’s Matthews was interviewed by national radio host, Jonathan Emord of “Truth Trials” radio, where Matthews discussed the possibility of psychiatric drugs being involved in the violent act and the need for MedWatch education via the non-profit’s legislative efforts.

Matthews also was a guest on the Mike DeRosa radio show in Connecticut, WWUH 91.3 FM on April 14th.  DeRosa and Matthews discussed the recent spate of school violence and again Matthews brought the issue full-circle by discussing the need for MedWatch education within the state and discussed in depth Ablechild’s legislative efforts to make this happen.

Throughout the month Ablechild published several articles related to mental health/drugging issues, including an op-ed requested by the distinguished mental health website madinamerica.com, titled Legislator’s Rush to Implement Increased Mental Health Services Based on No Data from Shooting at Sandy Hook. Ablechild also published New York’s “unsafe” ActState Child Advocate Still Investigating Sandy Hook Shooterand Ablechild Warns of Clinical Trial “offers” to Low-Income Families.  We hope all our members will click on each of these links and read this important information.

In our continuing efforts to get MedWatch education language inserted into legislation, on April 25th, Ablechild met with State Senator Markley and Representative Steinberg.  Both lawmakers were very supportive of Ablechild’s efforts and have offered their assistance with the legislative language when the new legislative session begins. Ablechild will work with both lawmakers over the Summer months to insure that we hit the ground running for the next legislative session.

Finally, Ablechild is so pleased to report that our annual fundraising event, the Spring Fling Raffle, was a huge success. We were pleased that so many of our friends and members attended the event at Venture Photography in Greenwich on April 24th.  And, we were even more gratified when the winner of the gift basket, George Papadopoulous, graciously “paid it forward,” donating the $300.00 Salon KIKLO beauty services gift to an Ablechild member.

While April was very busy and rewarding, we anticipate that May will be equally challenging. As always, we appreciate our Members continued support, which allows us to do the work on your behalf for you and your families. We always welcome your feedback and look forward to knowing your thoughts on issues of importance.

The Ablechild Team

 

 

 

“ON THE AIR” Ablechild kicks off in CT then goes National for MEDWATCH AWARENESS

On February 14, 2014, Ablechild was interviewed on WGCH 1490 AM, Greenwich, Connecticut. Ablechild left immediately after that interview to the Capitol in Hartford, Connecticut to educate lawmakers on the MEDWATCH “adverse drug” reporting system.  Ablechild distributed to every State Representative and Senator a copy of the “MEDWATCH” form  along with suggested language to incorporate into law “the ensured access” for the consumer on their right to report “adverse drug events” to the FDA.  Take a listen, below:

Tony Savino
News Director
WGCH 1490-AM
71 Lewis St.
Greenwich, CT. 06830


After our effort in Connecticut, Ablechild reached out Nationally.  We did our first exclusive interview on the National radio show, Republic Broadcasting System with Deanna Spingola, where Ablechild discusses the Sandy Hook, Newtown Investigation, our legislative efforts, and fielded questions from callers throughout the United States, as well as a call from Canada!  Take a listen:

Ablechild Guest on Republic Broadcasting Network with Deanna Spingola

ABLECHILD INTERVIEWED BY CNN

November 9th, 2011 | News Archive

AbleChild Co-founders Interviewed by CNN’s Steve Perry!

CNN education contributor Steve Perry interviewed Patty and Sheila yesterday for a program, “Quick to Medicate,” that will air in early December!

In this two-part episode of “Perry’s Principles,” a CNN Weekend segment examining challenges facing today’s schools, CNN profiles a family using behavioral drug treatment and commentary by Dr. Andrew Adesman, chief of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York of the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System in New Hyde Park.. Patty and Sheila shared their experiences and offered AbleChild support and resources to parents with issues regarding their child’s ADHD/ADD diagnosis and/or drugs recommended to treat it.

CNN’s Steve Perry interviews AbleChild co-founders Sheila Matthews (left) and Patricia Weathers.

Patty described the pressure she felt from the school system and doctors to treat her energetic, outgoing son with drugs. “I thought maybe they knew more than I did; these were educated people, with degrees.” Stimulants made him withdrawn and listless; adding an antidepressant made him “psychotic.” His increasingly erratic behavior prompted Patty to take him off the drugs and seek alternative solutions. “Parents often aren’t told that there are other solutions to behavioral issues because drugs are a quick fix.”

Sheila offered two key pieces of advice to parents: “First, remember that federal legislation now prohibits schools from recommending or requiring children take controlled substances. Second, it’s critical to document any adverse effects drugs have on your child through Medwatch, the FDA’s reporting system so the agency can regulate their use and consumers receive more accurate information.”

After a break to eat pizza, Perry interviewed Patty and Sheila’s younger sons, Brett and Nick. Brett related how he refused to fill out a behavioral survey administered during math class. “It asked questions like whether I ever had thoughts about hurting anyone. There was no reason for me to fill it out so I didn’t.”

Nick, who receives private tutoring through Chyten Educational Services, discussed the support he receives through public special education to serve his speech and language gaps. “Special education services help me organize my work and review with me what projects I am working on and when they are due.” Nick describes himself as a normal 16-year-old with a passion for music. His work is available on the Oven Fresh Beats YouTube channel.

Your browser may not support display of this image.AbleChild co-founder Sheila Matthews and her son Nick chat with CNN’s Steve Perry over pizza during a break from filming.

Don’t forget to tune in next month when “Quick to Medicate” airs: part one on December 3, and part two on December 10, from 7 – 8PM EST!

Ablechild Mission Featured in Westchester Magazine

November 4th, 2011 | News Archive

AbleChild recently held their annual fundraiser featuring a night of music, cocktails, hors d’oeuvres and an auction at the Venture Portraits studio in Greenwich, Conn. AbleChild is a nationally recognized nonprofit organization dedicated to parents, caregivers and children’s rights alike. Incorporated in New York in November 2003, AbleChild is steadily moving toward ensuring that all caregivers are provided with a safe haven, resource center and support network when faced with issues surrounding assigned subjective labels (ADD, ADHD, OCD, ODD, and the many others) and drug “treatment” prescribed to our nation’s vulnerable children.

Download PDF

Ablechild Makes Page 6 in Feingold Association Newsletter

November 4th, 2011 | News Archive

This non-profit organization was formed by two mothers who had been told by their children’s
school that the youngsters had to be placed on drugs in order to be allowed to attend school.

Would you like statins with that?

A British doctor has recently raised howls of protest for suggesting that fast food restaurants should serve statin drugs along with their fatty foods, to help counteract the harmful health effects of those burgers and fries.

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Keep your ADHD Label, Teach Writing.

September 5th, 2011 | News Archive

Over the years, Ablechild.org has gone directly to the pipeline of ADHD, and has informed parents of the misleading information they are receiving through the public school system and the media relating to the label ADHD and the dangerous mind altering drugs that are recommended as the solution.

Writing is the latest link the drug manufacturers and psychiatric gatekeepers plan on using to lure families into psychiatric drug use. Perfect timing as children start school. Tuesday, August 23 (HealthDay News) reports that Children diagnosed with ADHD have a much higher risk of developing written language disorder, a new study indicates. The findings don’t eliminate the ADHD label or give way to the fact that millions of children have been misdiagnosed with ADHD that had underlying writing issues. The study wants to ensure children are Co-labeled.

What you will find with any ADHD study, the ADHD label is often linked with human actions, i.e., walking, talking, listening, eating, sleeping, crying, laughing and now writing. To validate the label they take those actions and link it to “a much higher risk of developing” problems and across it over to whatever obtains them more clientele. For example, Monday, July 25, 2011 big news (Reuters Health) reported that Children with ADHD are more likely to misjudge risk of walking across the street. The findings, researchers say it may explain why children with the disorder have a higher than average risk of being hit by a car. This approach to taking a verb and associating it with risk and linking with your child becomes alarming. Simple tasks become a concern, something for you to look for to become proactive about. This has created an industry that feeds off our children’s behaviors. Giving cause to analyse it all and cure it. OMG!

As school starts, know the facts and stay in the solution. Writing problems exist, but they can be solved without a ADHD Label or drugs. The recommendation should not be to Co-label a child with ADHD and a writing disorder, but to look at ensuring that schools continue to focus on the connection between writing and the development of the brain.. Thus the research they are not providing to you or mentioning in this breaking news study is a key ingredient for you to make an informed decision. Ablechild gives you a battling study for your review and a breaking news story that illustrates the failure to teach writing at the important developmental ages.

Research.

News Coverage

Stay in touch with your own reality, not what the psychiatric and drug companies want your reality to be for your child. Visit us at www.ablechild.org and let us provide you with more information so that you may make an informed decision relating to your child’s health and well-being.

Have a great start to the new school year!

Sheila Matthews
Cofounder www.ablechild.org

Billion Dollar Drug Company Law Firm Restructures Connecticut Welfare System

March 10th, 2011 | News Archive

By Bob Fiddaman and Shelia Matthews

For some time now, Sheila Matthews has been suspicious about her home state of Connecticut’s treatment of its most vulnerable children. As a mother of two children and co-founder of Ablechild, her instincts led her to scrutinize the dubious relationships among Connecticut’s Department of Children and Family Services [DCF], the pharmaceutical industry and a billion dollar law firm who has defended the likes of Pfizer Inc and Merck & Co., among others.

Sheila’s investigation has led her on a journey that links a non-profit children’s advocacy group, with assets over $15 million [2009] with nationally-renowned mass tort and class action defense law firms, to the Connecticut DCF – an $865 million bureaucracy, as described by the Connecticut Mirror.

The Connecticut DCF serves approximately 36,000 children and 16,000 families across its four Mandate Areas:

  1. Child welfare
  2. Children’s behavioral health
  3. Juvenile Services
  4. Prevention

Sheila’s Ablechild has been questioning the Connecticut DCF since 2003, when Ablechild demanded that the Connecticut DCF immediately ban the use of the antidepressant Paxil in its treatment of mental disorders after multiple studies confirmed Paxil increased the risk of suicide in children and adolescents. This was more than a year prior to America’s Food & Drug Association (FDA) announcement that all antidepressants, including Paxil, should bear a black box warning regarding this suicide risk. Ablechild was disturbed that children in state custody were being prescribed this dangerous psychotropic medication. Ablechild’s public pressure paid off, and the Connecticut DCF deemed Paxil unsafe for children and adolescents, and according to the DCF drug approval list, Paxil has not been approved for use in over eight (8) years.

In August 2003, less than one month later, Ablechild reported that the commissioner of the Connecticu DCF held a ‘behind closed doors‘ meeting with Glaxo officials. This meeting was reported by the Associated Press, who wrote:

The maker of the anti-depressant Paxil plans to meet this week with Connecticut officials, weeks after the State stopped using the drug to treat young people in its care.

GlaxoSmithKline, a British pharmaceutical company, is sending its regional medical director and a medical team to meet with officials from the Department of Children and Families. [Source]

Despite repeated requests from Ablechild, the Connecticut DCF refused to inform the public what was discussed at this secret meeting.

Eight years later, Sheila and Ablechild continue to raise concerns and investigate potential wrongdoings and conflicts within the Connecticut DCF. Last month, in February 2011, Sheila attended a meeting sponsored by the Connecticut Behavioral Health Partnership [CBHP], where its medical director, Dr Steven Kant, presented the Husky Behavioral Pharmacy Data. The CBHP is a state vendor that provides mental health services to DCF children. These services are paid, in part, by the State-run insurance program, HUSKY. Incredibly the pharmacy data presentation showed that dangerous psychotropic drugs, like Paxil, are still being prescribed to thousands of children and adolescents. In fact, the Pharmacy Data presentation showed that the HUSKY program, financed by taxpayer dollars, paid drug companies over $60 million for psychotropic drugs for Connecticut’s children and adolescents in 2009 alone – many of which are not approved by the FDA for use in the pediatric population and all of which carry the most serious warning possible regarding the risk of suicide.

According to the pharmacy data presentation: [Which can be downloaded as a Powerpoint presentation HERE]

More than 50% of HUSKY Youth Behavioral med utilizers are on stimulants.
Close to 30% of HUSKY Youth Behavioral med utilizers are on antipsychotics.

The pharmacy data also revealed the following:

Most Frequently Used Behavioral Meds for DCF-Involved Youth

Medications for ADHD

  • Ritalin (10%)
  • Adderall (5%)
  • Vyvanse (4%)
  • Strattera (3%)

Atypical Antipsychotics

  • Abilify (11%)
  • Risperdol (10%)
  • Seroquel (8%)

Anti-anxiety

  • Hydroxyzine (2.5%)

Antidepressants

  • Prozac (4.5%)
  • Zoloft (4%)
  • Zyban (3%)
  • Desyrel (2.5%)
  • Celexa (2%)

Mood Stabilizers

  • Lithum (3%)
  • Depakote (3%)
  • Lamictal (2.5%)

Curiously, none of the above medications are on the Connecticut DCF list of approved/unapproved drugs listed in its DCF PMAC document.

With this in mind, Sheila Matthews contacted Dr Steven Kant and inquired as to whether any of the above drugs were approved by the Connecticut DCF for use in children.

Dr Kant replied:

… the answer to your question is not that straight forward.. . . Medications may be indicated by age and/or by specific treatment needs so it is not either a simply “yes” or “no”. Also, some medications may have the age indication but for a totally different condition, such as anti epileptic condition. . .Also FDA indications are static, they do not change over time though medical practice is constantly evolving…

Contradicting the very document that lists Connecticut’s approved and unapproved drugs, a “check-off” list that verifies the status of medications, Dr Kant replied, “I don’t think a “check off” for each medication would work in terms of verifying their status.”

With such an ambiguous response from Dr. Kant, we found the DCF Approved Medication List on the Internet. This particular version was revised in 2009.

It appears that the DCF has approved drugs in children that have not been approved for children by the FDA. In fact, the FDA has issued multiple advisories and alerts since 2004 about the increased risk of suicide in children, adolescents and young adults up to age 25 who are treated with psychotropic medications.

And while Fluoxetine (Prozac) is the only medication approved by the FDA for use in treating depression in children ages 8 and older, it still carries a black box warning regarding the risk of suicide.

In contrast, the DCF seems to be ignoring the conclusions of the FDA. Its list of approved medication in children and adolescents include every single antidepressant except paroxetine [Paxil] and venlafaxine [Effexor].

Forest Lab’s citalopram [Celexa] – APPROVED

Forest Lab’s escitalopram [Lexapro] – APPROVED

Solvay Pharmaceuticals’ fluvoxamine [Luvox] – APPROVED

Pfizer’s sertraline [Zoloft] – APPROVED

GlaxoSmithKline’s bupropion [Wellbutrin -also marketed as an anti-smoking cessation drug under the name of Zyban] – APPROVED [1]

Alarmingly, the DCF has produced a guide entitled, “MEDICATIONS USED FOR BEHAVIORAL & EMOTIONAL DISORDERS – A GUIDE FOR PARENTS, FOSTER PARENTS, FAMILIES, YOUTH, CAREGIVERS, GUARDIANS, AND SOCIAL WORKERS” where it writes, “Most of the side effects from the medications are mild and will lessen or go away after the first few weeks of treatment.” The guide also points out possible side effects of SSRI’s/SNRI’s:

SSRIs and SNRIs:

  • Headache
  • Nervousness
  • Nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Weight Loss

One of the most dangerous side effects of these medications, suicidal thoughts/ideation, doesn’t even make the 5 bullet-pointed list. The Guide does, however, add the following: “Watch for worsening of depression and thoughts about suicide.”

The DCF Approved Medication List writes:

“The DCF Approved Medication List is a list of psychotropic medications that has been carefully established by the Psychotropic Medication Advisory Committee, a group of DCF and community professionals.”

Sheila has since investigated other advocacy groups that were concerned about the off-label prescribing of psychiatric medications to youths in state custody. This is where she stumbled upon Children’s Rights, a non-profit charity based in New York City.

In 2005, Children’s Rights employed ten (10) attorneys and a staff of 31. It claims to use its expertise to change child welfare red tape and scrutinize failing systems. If the child welfare system fails to respond, Children’s Rights files a lawsuit. If successful, it enforces reform and then monitors its implementation.

In 1989, Children’s Rights had in fact filed a suit against William O’Neill and the Connecticut state Department of Children and Youth Services [DCYS].

The suit charged that an overworked and underfunded DCYS failed to provide services including abuse and neglect investigations, adoption, foster care, mental health care, caseloads and staffing. The case has been pending for over twenty (20) years, and while there have been numerous arguments that DCYS should be more inclusive or has failed to provide certain services, the issue of massive off-label prescription of psychotropic medications has never been brought to the court’s attention.

Children’s Rights is chaired by Alan C Myers, a partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom, a billion dollar law firm which represents the pharmaceutical industry in mass torts and class actions. Myers is also co-head of the firm’s REIT Group [Real Estate Investment Trust].

Also, listed on the Children’s Rights website are individuals and law firms that have served as co-counsel on Children’s Rights’ legal campaigns to reform America’s failing child welfare systems, including:

Missouri Shook Hardy & Bacon – Eli Lilly Co. and Forest Labs, defended the original Wesbeker Prozac trial in Kentucky and still defend Prozac, Celexa and Lexapro.

New JerseyDrinker Biddle & Reath – GlaxoSmithKline attorneys – defended Paxil as local counsel in Philadelphia cases.

OklahomaKaye Scholer LLP – provides work in Pharmaceutical Products Liability defense and employs an attorney who was former General Counsel of Pfizer, Inc.

A particular success for Skadden Arps occurred in 2010 when it secured a summary judgement ruling for Pfizer Inc. in a suit filed by two insurance companies who sought $200 million in damages for Pfizer’s predecessors alleged “off-label” marketing of its epilepsy drug, Neurontin.

Furthermore, in February 2011, Skadden Arps secured the dismissal of over 200 cases in a multi-district litigation pending against their client, Pfizer Inc. The plaintiffs had alleged injuries related to the use of Pfizer’s anti-epilepsy drug, Neurontin.

Neurontin, the generic version is called gabapentin, is prescribed by psychiatrists for a variety of “off-label” indications. It is often tried as an alternative treatment, when patients are unable to tolerate the side effect of more proven mood stabilizers such as lithium. [2]

Gabapentin has also been associated with an increased risk of suicidal acts or violent deaths.

This is a drug that has been known to cause behavioral problems, which include unstable emotions, hostility, aggression, hyperactivity or lack of concentration.

Children dependent on child welfare systems have rights and, according to its web page, Children’s Rights is dedicated to protecting them.

It should come as no surprise that the site fails to discuss the off-label prescription of non-approved psychotropic medications to children and adolescents, unless this falls under the ‘abuse and neglect’ category?

If Children’s Rights’ motive was to accomplish fixing the child welfare system then why hasn’t it investigated why thousands of children under state care are prescribed “off-label” psychiatric drugs? With a partner in a billion dollar pro-pharmaceutical law firm as its Chair, and supporters who also defend pharmaceutical products, is it safe to assume that its stance on the drugging of children is one that is being ignored?

Children’s Rights push to remove abused and neglected children into safety.

The basic question always comes down to trust. When power, money and a good cause is mixed, it is imperative to check motives. We would be less of a society if we didn’t check out all the facts. Abuse and neglect exist, always has and always will, but society is obligated to ensure those victims are not transformed into “good cause victims” and expensed out. There is no doubt we have a right to question the system and those who claim to promote change for the good of the children within it.

Children’s Rights Chairman, Alan C. Myers, Medical Director of Connecticut Behavioral Health Partnership, Steven Kant and the Connecticut Department of Children and Families may get their knickers in a twist with regard to an advocate of Ablechild and a blogger from Birmingham, UK questioning their motives but hey, what’s the downside of shinning a light on all these players, be they good or bad players?

Sheila’s concern is that Children’s Rights with its multi-million dollar budget and with the help of its billion dollar law firms, will continue to ignore the risks of these unapproved and dangerous medications, under the guise of helping our nation’s most vulnerable children. The question remains: how can the lawyers who defend pscyhotropic drugs also be the same lawyers who advocate for abused and neglected children to get into state welfare programs which place these children on the same drugs? The conflict is clear and obvious – and it poses an unmistakable danger to children who truly need our help.

[1] Bupropion [also known as Wellbutrin, Zyban] is a non-tricyclic antidepressant.
[2] Gabapentin

Bob Fiddaman is the author of the Seroxat Sufferers blog and the book, “The evidence, however, is clear… the Seroxat scandal.” Chipmunka Publishing.

Sheila Matthews is the co-founder of Ablechild and a mother of two children.

Senator Grassley Seeks Data From Drugmakers on Treatment of Whistleblowers

July 1st, 2010 | News Archive

Jul 1, 2010
By David Voreacos

U.S. Senator Charles Grassley asked 16 drugmakers, including Pfizer Inc., AstraZeneca Plc and Eli Lilly & Co., to reveal how they treat whistleblowers who file complaints under the False Claims Act.

Grassley, an Iowa Republican, sent letters June 28 that posed eight questions such as how companies notify employees of the law, how they treat whistleblowers and what changes they have made in response to a 2009 law extending anti-retaliation protections. Grassley’s office provided copies of the letters.

The False Claims Act lets private citizens sue on behalf of the government and share in any recovery. Whistleblowers were paid $2.39 billion from 1987 to 2009, or 16 percent of the $15.19 billion collected in False Claims lawsuits in which the U.S. government joined the case, according to the Justice Department.

“What measures does Pfizer have in place to ensure fair treatment to those filing complaints?” Grassley wrote to Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Kindler. “Of employees who have filed complaints, have any complained of unfair treatment and/or retaliation after the filing of the complaint?”

The False Claims Act was passed by Congress in 1863 and strengthened three times since 1986. Citizens file so-called qui tam cases that remain sealed from public view as the Justice Department investigates the claims and decides whether to join the suit. Twenty-five U.S. state shave their own versions of the law.

Large Settlements

Drugmakers have reached some of the largest settlements in recent years. Pfizer agreed to pay $2.3 billion over improper drug marketing, Lilly paid more than $1.6 billion to settle claims over its marketing of the drug Zyprexa, and AstraZeneca paid $520 million over marketing of its drug Seroquel.

Chris Loder, a spokesman for New York-based Pfizer, the world’s biggest drugmaker, said the company is responding to the letter and “shares the senator’s desire to detect and report any false claims that may lead to unnecessary costs to our health-care system.”

Pfizer, he said, has invested “substantial resources” to “create a compliance program that consists of mandatory training for every one of our employees, proactive monitoring and surveillance, and strict enforcement of all federal and state health-care laws.”

The company also has a chief compliance officer reporting to the CEO, a corporate compliance committee, a code of conduct, a compliance hotline and extensive procedures to investigate and remediate possible non-compliance, he said.

Anonymous Reports

Tony Jewell, a U.S. spokesman for London-based AstraZeneca, the U.K.’s second-largest drugmaker, said the company encourages its employees to report any instances of misconduct through various channels, including anonymously.

“We respond to all complaints of wrongdoing through prompt investigations and appropriate remedial action,” he said. “Retaliation of any kind is explicitly prohibited under our policies.”

Edward Sagebiel, a spokesman for Indianapolis-based Lilly, confirmed that the company received the senator’s letter.

“We will be cooperating fully with this request for information,” he said.

Grassley was a sponsor of the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act passed last year, which restored powers under the False Claims Act that had been narrowed by court rulings. The new law limited the ability of companies to avoid liability under the False Claims Act and made it easier for the Justice Department to issue civil investigative demands, a type of subpoena power, in pursuing cases.

‘Public Responsibility’

“My appeal to drugmakers is based on the fact that they have a public responsibility to safeguard the tax dollars that pay for their products, and promoting a culture where those who speak up about possible fraud are rewarded rather than retaliated against is one way to fulfill that responsibility,” Grassley said in a statement. “There can never be too many taxpayer watchdogs, so I see this letter as an opportunity to foster a mindset that recognizes the value of whistleblowers and the duty these companies have to act honestly when seeking taxpayer dollars.”

Whistleblowers are routinely exposed to retaliation and blackballing from their industries, said Patrick Burns, a spokesman for Taxpayers Against Fraud, a Washington non-profit advocate for the False Claims Act.

“The goal for companies is to isolate, humiliate, and terminate,” Burns said. “They want to send a signal to anyone else in the company that this is what happens to you — you will lose your job, you may lose your house, you may end up with a dissolved marriage.”

The Justice Department is investigating almost 1,000 whistleblower cases filed under seal, Assistant Attorney General Tony West said in an interview on June 3.

In the letters, Grassley, the ranking Republican member of the Senate Finance Committee, said he expects written responses to his questions by July 20.

To contact the reporter on this story: David Voreacos in Newark, New Jersey, at dvoreacos@bloomberg.net.

More Toddlers, Young Children Given Antipsychotics

January 4th, 2010 | News Archive

Researchers question the ‘worrisome’ trend

By Jennifer Thomas, HealthDay Reporter

Source: BusinessWeek

MONDAY, Jan. 4 (HealthDay News) — The rate of children aged 2 to 5 who are given antipsychotic medications has doubled in recent years, a new study has found.

Yet little is known about either the effectiveness or the safety of these powerful psychiatric medications in children this age, said researchers from Columbia University and Rutgers University, who looked at data on more than 1 million children with private health insurance.

Read more…

The Washington Times: Mental health Trojan horse, It’s enough to make anyone sick

December 31st, 2009 | News Archive

December 31, 2009
By Richard E. Vatz and Jeffrey A. Schaler

The vast majority of Americans are unaware of most of what is included in the Senate and House health care reform bills as they head for reconciliation in the House-Senate Conference. They will be in for a big surprise concerning parity mental health care coverage, covering mental problems comparably to physical problems. In addition, the arguments supporting the changes, rarely made public in order to avoid rigorous debate, have revealed the shifting grounds supporting parity.

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius spoke on Dec. 16 to a friendly crowd of health care providers and others at Sheppard Pratt Health System near Baltimore, a location for a broad array of psychiatric services, concerning mental health coverage, and, according to reports, she defended the expansion of such coverage with all of the familiar shibboleths.

She argued, consistent with the administration’s claim that expanding health care in general to 30 million or more citizens would actually save us money, that the vastly increased mental health parity program would additionally, as the Baltimore Sun reported her message, “improve care for millions of Americans who do not get all the mental health services they need.”

In the speech, Ms. Sebelius said, “One in 5 Americans will have a mental health illness this year and almost half will have a mental illness in their lifetimes. Yet 10 million people didn’t get the mental health care they needed last year, and 20 million didn’t get substance abuse services.”

Ms. Sebelius proclaimed her own false analogy of mental health to physical health by saying, “If 10 [million] or 20 million Americans were walking around bleeding, we’d have alarm bells going off.”

But if mental heath professions’ own estimates of the current number of people who are mentally ill are correct, Ms. Sebelius is way off in her calculations. As Mark Twain quipped, “There are lies, damned lies and statistics.”

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) claims that more than 50 percent of Americans are mentally ill in their lifetime – and recent APA studies dwarf that statistic. Moreover, the problems that qualify as “mental disorders,” all those listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), are virtually without limit.

Significantly, the new coverage of mental illness covers a vast array of the “worried well,” who have no neurological or mental disorders but simply have problems in living. Support for mental health parity in the new health reform bills relies on the public’s false inference that the prototypical mental disorder is dementia or some other organically based brain disease, which constitute only a tiny percentage and atypical sampling of the hundreds of “mental disorders” listed in DSM-IV.

Typically, psychiatrists label those unhappy people they concede have no physical illness as having “social anxiety disorder” or some other equally benign “disorder.” Such people can be in costly, insurance-covered therapy indefinitely. As one psychologist told us, “Anyone who comes in with any problem can be diagnosed as having ‘adjustment disorder.’ ” (e.g., “with anxiety,” DSM-IV Code 309.24).

There are many such diagnoses of easily applicable disorders, including “antisocial personality disorder” (DSM-IV Code 301.7), “avoidant personality disorder” (DSM-IV Code 301.82), and others vague enough to be applied to almost anyone. This is one of the reasons that the American Psychiatric Association claims that in a lifetime far more than a majority of citizens will suffer from a mental disorder, and the estimates are increasing.

In the December 2008 APA’s Archives of General Psychiatry, there is a report that “almost half of college-aged individuals had a psychiatric disorder in the past year [emphasis added],” and this includes heavy drinking, categorized as “alcohol use disorder” (DSM-IV Code 305.00).

When everyone is sick, what is normal? “What is healthy?”
On one strategy to deal with these issues, perhaps Ms. Sebelius and mental health skeptics can agree: It is high time to let a national debate begin – before mental health parity becomes part of universal national health care insurance.

Richard E. Vatz, a professor at Towson University, is associate psychology editor of USA Today Magazine. Jeffrey A. Schaler, a professor at American University, is executive editor of Current Psychology and author of “Addiction Is a Choice” (Open Court Publishing Co., 1999).

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