Friday, July 15, 2011

Look What They're Saying About Us

Ah, they're just jealous of our freedoms.

Has America become a nation of psychotics? You would certainly think so, based on the explosion in the use of antipsychotic medications. In 2008, with over $14 billion in sales, antipsychotics became the single top-selling therapeutic class of prescription drugs in the United States, surpassing drugs used to treat high cholesterol and acid reflux.


Yeah, well, high cholesterol and acid reflux will make you psycho.

We are going to have to bomb alJazeera again. What if the enemy sees this?

Today, it seems, everyone is taking antipsychotics. Parents are told that their unruly kids are in fact bipolar, and in need of anti-psychotics.

Dammit, we do not have unruly kids. They have a condition.

Americans with symptoms ranging from chronic depression to anxiety to insomnia are now being prescribed anti-psychotics at rates that seem to indicate a national mass psychosis.

Oh, bring out the big bombs! We’ll show you who’s nuts.

By now, just about everyone knows how the drug industry works to influence the minds of American doctors, plying them with gifts, junkets, ego-tripping awards, and research funding in exchange for endorsing or prescribing the latest and most lucrative drugs. "Psychiatrists are particularly targeted by Big Pharma because psychiatric diagnoses are very subjective," says Dr. Adriane Fugh-Berman, whose PharmedOut project tracks the industry's influence on American medicine.


[A] 2009 study showed that 18 out of 20 of the shrinks who wrote the American Psychiatric Association's most recent clinical guidelines for treating depression, bipolar disorders, and schizophrenia had financial ties to drug companies

"Influence the minds of doctors." Actually it's their wallets that are influenced.

Okay, maybe our national psychosis-rage is not our fault. Maybe it’s Big Pharma. Right after we bomb alJazeera again, we’ll sue the bastards.

But truly, we do have a clinical disease and our kids have a condition, so could we please get a break on our taxes to cover our drugs?

P.S. kinda laterally…in Craig Ferguson’s standup routine “Wee Bit O' Revolution,” he talks about the need for actors to shut up about things they’re not experts on. “Doctors….Actors….sounds a bit alike but there’s a big difference.” He’s talking about depression whose symptoms some actors - could he be talking about Tom Cruise? - claim should not be masked by taking drugs. Craig counters, “The symptoms of depression is depression. If you take away the symptoms, you don’t have it.” I guess he’s got a point.

In a recent article in The New York Review of Books, [Marcia Angell, former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine] deconstructs what she calls an apparent "raging epidemic of mental illness" among Americans. The use of psychoactive drugs—including both antidepressants and antipsychotics—has exploded, and if the new drugs are so effective, Angell points out, we should "expect the prevalence of mental illness to be declining, not rising." Instead, "the tally of those who are so disabled by mental disorders that they qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) increased nearly two and a half times between 1987 and 2007 - from one in 184 Americans to one in seventy-six. For children, the rise is even more startling - a thirty-five-fold increase in the same two decades. Mental illness is now the leading cause of disability in children." Under the tutelage of Big Pharma, we are "simply expanding the criteria for mental illness so that nearly everyone has one." Fugh-Berman agrees: In the age of aggressive drug marketing, she says, "Psychiatric diagnoses have expanded to include many perfectly normal people."

No, no, I can absolutely believe that Americans are becoming more psychotic. And it’s not just because Big Pharma makes every freaking little thing into a disease or condition that you must get treatment for, it’s also because our economy is tanking and people are being left without a safety net, and the government is simultaneously ramping up the fear factor about possible scenarios that didn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of happening, and then creating the conditions under which they become seriously likely. Americans are scared shitless. That makes them constipated and psychotic.

The only thing I might say about Fugh-Berman’s remarks is that “perfectly normal” has been placed at a new marker.

In one particularly notorious episode, the drugmaker Eli Lilly pushed Zyprexa on the caregivers of old people with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia, as well as agitation, anxiety, and insomnia. In selling to nursing home doctors, sales reps reportedly used the slogan "five at five"—meaning that five milligrams of Zyprexa at 5 pm would sedate their more difficult charges. The practice persisted even after FDA had warned Lilly that the drug was not approved for such uses, and that it could lead to obesity and even diabetes in elderly patients.

In a video interview conducted in 2006, Sharham Ahari, who sold Zyprexa for two years at the beginning of the decade, described to me how the sales people would wangle the doctors into prescribing it. At the time, he recalled, his doctor clients were giving him a lot of grief over patients who were "flipping out" over the weight gain associated with the drug, along with the diabetes.

Hey, that’s easy. Up the dose and calm ‘em down.

We got no problem here. Move on.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

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