(NaturalNews) Can you believe the audacity of some renegade school board member in Virginia who dared to send fliers home to parents informing them of nutritional alternatives to prescription ADHD medication? What is this world coming to when parents are allowed to receive fair, balanced information and make informed decisions for their children's health? Ms. Elizabeth Daniels has clearly taken her roll as a community educator too far! See story in The Virginian-Pilot (http://content.hamptonroads.com/story.cfm?story=135015&ran=160257&tref=po)
Well, not to worry. Big Pharma was having none of that and immediately sent in their paid-for-supporters and front groups such as CHADD (Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) to demand equal advertising time . . . or flier distribution rights, in order to counter this damning information and present their position that ADHD is a serious disease that requires treatment. Problem is CHADD's fliers will contain propaganda paid for by drug manufacturers and distributed strictly for corporate financial gain, but parents will be none the wiser.
So, in the interest of fair balance let's examine the actual facts of this case:
ADHD has never been proven to be a neuro-developmental disease by any of the currently acceptable scientific standards. There is a lack of empirical evidence (meaning it cannot be repeated, tested, measured, or verified) that ADHD is a disease by definition. Therefore, to make such a claim is fraudulent.
Since there is no medical test of scientific validity with which to diagnose ADHD, it is a diagnosis made solely by a third-party's observation of maladaptive behaviors and is entirely subjective. On the other hand, nutritional deficiency testing, testing for heavy metal toxicity, food allergy tests, and other infectious disease tests can be scientifically and medically verified. There are a number of top-notch, FDA approved labs across the country currently performing tests of this nature. The problem presented here for Big Pharma is that these tests suggest there are therapies which can eliminate ADHD symptoms without drugs.
What is clear to me, a fifteen-year-veteran of the pharmaceutical industry who can easily recognize their re-positioning and mis-information tactics, is that Pharma is scrambling to do damage control for their multi-billion dollar psycho-pharmacologics business that has been under scrutiny by Congress, the general public and, reluctantly, even FDA regulators of late.
The Drug Enforcement Administration classified methylphenidate in 1971 as a Schedule II substance (indicating this drug has significant risk of abuse and addiction with limited medicinal value). The black box warnings were added only last year to methylphenidate products such as Ritalin and Concerta, as well as to the ADHD drugs Adderall and Strattera, for their potential to cause serious psychiatric and cardiovascular problems, including psychosis, heart attack, stroke, and sudden death. These label warnings had been fought by their manufacturers for years. In addition to the above, Strattera, an SNRI (select norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor) drug, also contains warnings for severe liver damage as well as suicidal ideation.
There is consistent clinical data showing that as many as 40% of children fail to tolerate or respond well to stimulant therapy. The prestigious MTA study conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health found that long-term outcomes for medicated children demonstrate diminishing returns over time and behavioral improvements dissipate when treatment is withdrawn.
In addition, stimulant drugs are known to cause jitteriness, tremors, loss of appetite, suppression of growth, insomnia, nausea, abdominal pain, dizziness, headache, blood pressure and pulse changes, depression, sadness, over stimulation of the brain, aggression, anxiety, psychosis and tachycardia in children.
Even more distressing is the fact that much of the current psychotropic business for ADHD and depression is being funneled into the newer atypical antipsychotics and promoted "off label" for these indications. Dangerous drugs such as Zyprexa, Alibify, Geodon, and Seroquel are prescribed to children without any indication that these drugs are safe or effective for children with ADHD symptoms. However, these newer products have a longer shelf life as branded drugs - many of the SSRIs and ADHD stimulants are available in generics or about to go off patent - and represent a much more lucrative prescription long term for the industry.
The atypicals haven't gotten quite the amount of negative press yet that some of the other psychotropics have. Despite the fact that antipsychotic medications are known to cause permanent disfiguring tics and dyskinesias, akathisia, mania, neuroleptic malignant syndrome, weight gain, increased cholesterol, and diabetes.
None of these drugs are currently approved for use in children, although several manufacturers have submitted requests for bi-polar illness indications in children and adolescents. According to a report by CBS Evening News, there has been a 500% increase recently in the prescribing of antipsychotics for children!
No good article about psychiatric drug controversy would be complete without stating the contributions made by the Church of Scientology. In this one, Daniels said she hadn't received any complaints from parents about the fliers, only concerns that the information was taken from the Citizens Commission on Human Rights Web site which has ties to Scientology. Wonder specifically who stated that concern? Was it the CHADD representative, perhaps, who has vested financial interests with the manufacturers of stimulants?
Leave it to those pesky Scientologists to suggest some crazy notion that parents deserve to be informed about the dangerous effects stimulant drugs have on their children! Sorry, but this issue has nothing to do with religion or politics. This is definitely just another Pharma diversion tactic - and a lame one at that - in an attempt to divert attention away from the dangers of their drugs and refocus the issue on political, Scientology propaganda.
Consider this fact, CHADD's annual report for 2004-2005 lists total pharmaceutical donation support through unrestricted educational grants as comprising 22% of their total revenue. That represents $1,019,448 of contributions in one year alone. I think the propaganda that parents should be most concerned about is the covert advertising information presented by someone who has this level of financial interest in promoting dangerous drug therapy to children. Of course, that conflict-of-interest information was not revealed in the Virginian-Pilot article.
When will parents finally comprehend that our children are considered a human commodity by the pharmaceutical industry? Or, when will they understand the financial significance of the fact that the child psychiatric market is potentially the most lucrative expansion market that the industry has today, bar none? Or when will Americans realize that this is an industry where human death and suffering is relegated to statistics and bar charts depicted in patient years, not body counts?
Perhaps it will be in the discovery process of one of the many lawsuits filed on behalf of a loved one lost to a psychotropic drug reaction. Or, maybe it will be in the desperate search for answers in a crisis situation when they reach out to others on the World Wide Web. But there is one thing I do know from my extensive experience in the industry, to Pharma it's just another day at the office - just another cost of doing business!
About the author
Gwen Olsen, a fifteen year veteran of the pharmaceutical industry and author of "Confessions of an Rx Drug Pusher", worked for such industry giants as Johnson & Johnson, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Abbott Laboratories. Gwen currently wears many hats as a public speaker, child advocate, mental health activist and wellness consultant. She lives with her family in Austin, Texas.