Pharmaceutical Corruption News Articles
Excerpts of Key Pharmaceutical Corruption News Articles in Major Media
Below are many highly revealing excerpts of important pharmaceutical corruption news articles from the major media suggesting a cover-up.
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Drug Co. To Pay $515M Over Marketing
2007-09-28, CBS News
Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. and a former subsidiary have agreed to pay more than $515 million to settle federal and state investigations into their drug marketing and pricing practices. The civil settlement ... resolves a broad array of allegations against Bristol-Myers Squibb, dating from 1994 through 2005. Among them was a charge that the ... company illegally promoted the sale of Abilify, an anti-psychotic drug, for pediatric use and to treat dementia-related psychoses. Neither use is approved by the U.S. [FDA]. Although physicians are permitted to prescribe drugs for off-label uses, drug companies are prohibited from marketing them for uses that have not been approved by the FDA. U.S. Attorney Michael Sullivan said when pharmaceutical companies market drugs for unapproved uses, there is a potential risk that patients could be harmed, because the drugs have not been tested as rigorously as they are during the FDA approval process. The government also alleged the company paid illegal inducements in the form of consulting fees and trips to luxury resorts to influence doctors and other health care providers to buy and prescribe the company's drugs. The company's former generic drug subsidiary, Apothecon Inc., also was accused of giving illegal enticements to induce retail pharmacy and wholesale customers to buy its products. Bristol-Myers Squibb misreported its best price for the anti-depression drug Serzone, violating a law that requires drug companies to report their lowest price to Medicaid, prosecutors said. The company was selling Serzone to a larger commercial purchaser at a lower price, prosecutors said. Bristol-Myers Squibb and Apothecon also inflated prices for an assortment of oncology and generic drugs knowing that federal health care programs established reimbursement rates based on those prices, Sullivan said.
Note: For lots more on corporate corruption, click here.
Diagnosis: Conflict of Interest
2007-06-13, New York Times
The revelation that the diabetes drug Avandia can potentially cause heart disease is the latest in a string of pharmaceutical disappointments. Vioxx was pulled from the market in 2004 because it doubled the risks for heart attacks and strokes. Eli Lilly recently paid $750 million to settle lawsuits alleging that Zyprexa causes diabetes. Many have criticized the Food and Drug Administration as being too lax about monitoring drug safety. While those criticisms have merit, there is another culprit: the transformation of continuing medical education into an enterprise for drug marketing. The chore of teaching doctors how to practice medicine has been handed to the pharmaceutical industry. As a result, dangerous side effects are rarely on the curriculum. Most states require that doctors obtain a minimum number of credit hours of continuing medical education each year to maintain their medical licenses. Not so long ago, most of these courses were produced and paid for by universities and medical associations. But this has changed drastically over the past decade. Drug-industry financing of continuing medical education has nearly quadrupled since 1998, from $302 million to $1.12 billion. Half of all continuing medical education courses in the United States are now paid for by drug companies, up from a third a decade ago. Because pharmaceutical companies now set much of the agenda for what doctors learn about drugs, crucial information about potential drug dangers is played down, to the detriment of patient care. For example, GlaxoSmithKline footed the bill for dozens of educational courses intended to emphasize the benefits of Avandia over other drugs.
Note: For a concise, reliable overview of medical corruption, click here.
Inside Medicine: Some 'diseases' invented for profit
2007-05-26, Sacramento Bee (Sacramento's leading newspaper)
By Dr. Michael Wilkes. When is a disease really a disease? Young doctors in training work hard, and so do lots of other people. When people work 24 hours in a row ... the body feels tired. Is this fatigue an abnormal physiologic state requiring medication and treatment, or is it a normal part of belonging to the human race? If abnormal, then doctors and pharmaceutical companies argue that the fatigue requires treatment. If it is normal -- despite a movement to label it as an illness -- then post-work fatigue belongs to the growing phenomenon of disease-mongering. "Disease-mongering" ... is the process of trying to convince healthy people that they are sick, or people with minor problems that they have extremely worrisome symptoms. This is all in an attempt to sell treatments. Countless examples of disease-mongering are driven by the pharmaceutical industry's drive to sell drugs. Conditions such as female sexual dysfunction syndrome, premenstrual dysphoric disorder, toenail fungus, baldness and social anxiety disorder (a.k.a. shyness) are a few places where the medical community has stepped in, thereby turning normal or mild conditions into diseases for which medication is the treatment. Most pharmaceutical companies devote huge amounts of money to prevent, control and cure diseases. When their profits don't match corporate expectations, they invent "new" diseases to be cured by existing drugs. What happens to real diseases when [the media] are filled with information promoting disease mongering? Government funding for public health campaigns pales by comparison with the billions spent by pharmaceutical companies on disease mongering intended to increase the markets for their products.
Note: For more reliable information about major corruption in the pharmaceutical industry, click here.
Doctors' Ties to Drug Companies Called Commonplace
2007-04-25, Washington Post
The ties between doctors and drug manufacturers are close indeed. Most physicians (94 percent) reported some type of relationship with the pharmaceutical industry ... according to [a] study, published in the April 26 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Most of these relationships involved receiving food in the workplace (83 percent) or receiving drug samples (78 percent). More than one-third of the respondents (35 percent) were reimbursed for costs associated with professional meetings or continuing medical education, while more than one-quarter (28 percent) were paid for consulting, delivering lectures or enrolling patients in clinical trials. Over the past two decades, physician-industry relationships have attracted increasing scrutiny. One review found that, on average, physicians meet with industry representatives four times a month, and medical residents accept six gifts annually from industry representatives. "We know that these relationships have benefits and risks, and we know that they benefit the companies that are involved, and we know from our data that they benefit doctors," said study author Eric G. Campbell, an assistant professor of health care policy at the Institute for Health Policy at Harvard Medical School. "The real question is to what extent do these relationships benefit patients, and the answer is, we don't know." Campbell said that he found it hard to believe that free football tickets for a doctor would trickle down to benefit patients.
Note: For an excellent article by one of the foremost doctors in the nation on how the pharmaceutical industry has corrupted politics and damaged our health, click here.
F.D.A. Warns of Sleeping Pills’ Strange Effects
2007-03-15, New York Times
The most widely prescribed sleeping pills can cause strange behavior like driving and eating while asleep, the Food and Drug Administration said yesterday, announcing that strong new warnings will be placed on the labels of 13 drugs. Use of those medications and other similar drugs has soared by more than 60 percent since 2000, fueled by television, print and other advertising. Last year, makers of sleeping pills spent more than $600 million on advertising aimed at consumers. Sales in the United States of Ambien and Lunesta alone last year exceeded $3 billion. Last year ... some users of the most widely prescribed drug, Ambien, started complaining online and to their doctors about unusual reactions ranging from fairly benign sleepwalking episodes to hallucinations, violent outbursts, nocturnal binge eating and — most troubling of all — driving while asleep. Sleep-drivers reported frightening episodes in which they recalled going to bed, but woke up to find they had been arrested roadside in their underwear or nightclothes. The agency also received reports of people making phone calls, purchasing items over the Internet, or having sex under the influence of sleep medication. In each case the consumers had no recollection of the events, which they said had occurred after they took their pills and headed for bed. "Hopefully this will make doctors think twice before blindly giving patients a prescription," said Dr. Mahowald. He also criticized marketing of the products. "I personally think the extent of advertising has just been unconscionable," he said.
Note: A reliable insider told us of a harrowing story where his company and the FDA made a secret agreement not to report numerous deaths resulting from one test drug so that it would pass and bring major profits. For lots more reliable, verifiable information on major corruption in the drug companies affecting your health, click here.
Texas Governor Defends Vaccine Order
2007-02-22, MSNBC/Associated Press
Gov. Rick Perry on Thursday angrily defended his relationship with Merck & Co. and his executive order requiring that schoolgirls receive the drugmaker's vaccine against the sexually transmitted cervical-cancer virus. The Associated Press reported Wednesday that Perry's chief of staff had met with key aides about the vaccine on Oct. 16, the same day Merck's political action committee donated $5,000 to the governor's campaign. In issuing the order, the governor made Texas the first state to require the vaccine Gardasil for all schoolgirls. But many lawmakers have complained about his bypassing the Legislature altogether. The executive order has inflamed conservatives, who said it contradicts Texas' abstinence-only sexual education policies and intrudes into families' lives. Critics have previously questioned Perry's ties to Merck. Mike Toomey, Perry's former chief of staff, now lobbies for the drug company. And the governor accepted a total of $6,000 from Merck during his re-election campaign. Merck has waged a behind-the-scenes lobbying campaign to get state legislatures to require girls to get the three-dose vaccine to enroll in school. But on Tuesday the pharmaceutical company announced it was suspending the effort because of pressure from parents and medical groups. The Kentucky House on Thurday passed a bill that would require the vaccination for middle school girls unless their parents sign a form opposing it. Virginia lawmakers have also passed legislation requiring the vaccine, but the governor has not decided if he will sign it.
Note: The drug company lobby is the most powerful in the U.S., as reported by the former editor-in-chief of one of the most respected medical journals in the U.S. Click here for more.
Eli Lilly accused of shaping drug guidelines
2006-10-18, MSNBC/Associated Press
Several government doctors say drug maker Eli Lilly & Co. subtly orchestrated medical guidelines for treatment of an often lethal blood infection, hoping to boost sales of a drug whose value is being debated. “This company is trying to insinuate its drug into many aspects of patient care that industry really shouldn’t be involved in,” said Dr. Naomi O’Grady, a critical care specialist at the National Institutes of Health. Three of her NIH colleagues claim in Thursday’s New England Journal of Medicine that Lilly worked through medical societies to influence standards for treating the blood infection, sepsis. Ultimately, Xigris was incorporated into the guidelines. Both the guidelines committee and a larger information campaign on sepsis were heavily funded by [Lilly]. Dr. Phil Dellinger, who helped lead the guidelines committee, said...“We’ve been catching grief because we’ve been taking a lot of Lilly money — and we’re appreciative of Lilly giving it.” The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Xigris in 2001, despite an evenly split vote by its advisory committee. The lead author of Thursday’s journal article, Dr. Peter Q. Eichacker, voted against approval. Some critics are unhappy that the drug, which works only for the sickest patients, was approved on the basis of a single experiment. Academic officials acknowledged in the published guidelines that Lilly gave more than 90 percent of $861,000 in grants for the campaign and medical recommendations. O’Grady, of NIH, said a panel of disease experts that she headed refused to endorse the sepsis guidelines largely because Lilly “convened the whole panel.”
Note: For lots more on how the powerful pharmaceutical industry endangers our lives, click here.
Donations tie drug firms and nonprofits
2006-05-28, Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia's leading newspaper)
The American Diabetes Association...privately enlisted an Eli Lilly & Co. executive to chart its growth strategy. The National Alliance on Mental Illness...lobbies for treatment programs that also benefit its drug-company donors. The National Gaucher Foundation...gets nearly all its revenue from one drugmaker, Genzyme Corp. Many patient groups and drug companies maintain close, multimillion-dollar relationships while disclosing limited or no details about the ties. An Inquirer examination of six groups, each a leading advocate for patients in a disease area, found that the groups rarely disclose such ties when commenting or lobbying about donors' drugs. Combined, the six received at least $29 million from drug companies last year. The amount ranged from 2 percent to 7 percent of revenue at the Arthritis Foundation, to 89 percent to 91 percent at the much smaller National Gaucher Foundation. The funding usually comes from the companies' marketing or sales divisions, not charity offices. Grants often rise with promotional spending as a drug hits the market and fall when sales ebb. Donations from Merck and Pfizer Inc. to the Arthritis Foundation more than doubled, to at least $1.65 million combined, in 2000 as they launched Vioxx and Celebrex. Merck explicitly wove the foundation into sales strategies. In 2000-2001, the American Diabetes Association did not disclose an unusual gift from Lilly: a lent executive, Emerson "Randy" Hall Jr., who moved into its Alexandria, Va., headquarters and coached it on growth strategies, all paid by Lilly.
Note: If you want to understand how the huge pharmaceutical industry influences what you know about their drugs, this article is a must read. You may first want to read a riveting two-page summary of an exposé by the former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, who details major collusion and corruption in the pharmaceutical industry at http://www.WantToKnow.info/healthcoverup
Drug firms accused of turning healthy people into patients
2006-04-11, The Guardian (One of the U.K.'s leading newspapers)
According to reports published today...healthy people are being turned into patients by drug firms which publicise mental and sexual problems and promote little-known conditions only then to reveal the medicines they say will treat them.The studies, published in a respected medical journal, accuse the pharmaceutical industry of "disease mongering" - a practice in which the market for a drug is inflated by convincing people they are sick and in need of medical treatment. The "corporate-sponsored creation of disease" wastes resources and may even harm people because of the medication they turn to, the researchers add. In 11 papers in the journal Public Library of Science Medicine, experts from Britain, the US and elsewhere argue that new diseases are being defined by specialists who are often funded by the drug industry.According to the researchers, the campaigns boost drug sales by medicalising aspects of normal life.
Note: For more on how the pharmaceutical companies can negatively impact your health and your wallet:
Medical research increasingly funded by industry
2006-03-17, Reuters/Princeton Media Associates
From 1994 to 2003, medical research funded by pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies steadily increased and now surpasses research funded by government or public sources, according to a review of the most frequently cited studies. In the new study, reported in the March 17th online issue of the British Medical Journal, the sponsorship of 289 articles...was determined. Overall, 60% of articles had government or public funding and 36% were funded by industry. However, this masks the dramatic rise in industry funding that occurred over time: in 1994, roughly 30% of articles were funded by industry compared with over 50% in 2001. Moreover, 65 of the 77 most cited randomized controlled trials involved industry funding. "Medical research should reflect public needs more closely and the efforts of all of those involved should be better coordinated," the authors emphasize.
Merck CEO Resigns as Drug Probe Continues
2005-05-06, Washington Post
Merck & Co.'s longtime leader Raymond V. Gilmartin abruptly resigned yesterday on the same day congressional investigators released a slew of documents detailing how the company continued to aggressively promote its arthritis drug Vioxx after it knew of potentially serious safety concerns. The documents...showed that Merck directed its 3,000-person Vioxx sales force to avoid discussions with doctors about the cardiovascular risks identified in a major clinical trial of the drug in 2000. Sales representatives were told instead to rely on a "Cardiovascular Card" that said Vioxx was protecting the heart rather than potentially harming it. They were [also] trained how to smile, speak and position themselves most effectively when talking with doctors, and were exhorted to sell Vioxx and other Merck drugs using the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. Vioxx was withdrawn from the market last September after another clinical trial found that people who had taken the drug for 18 months were five times more likely to have heart attacks and strokes than those on a placebo. Merck was sharply criticized in a hearing into how the company and the Food and Drug Administration had handled the safety concerns surrounding Vioxx.
Novartis takes legal action in UK to make hospitals use $1,000 eye drug over $97 alternative
2012-04-24, Washington Post/Associated Press
Drug maker Novartis is taking legal action in Britain to make state-run hospitals use an eye drug that costs about 700 pounds ($1,130) per shot instead of a cheaper one that costs 60 pounds ($97). In a statement, Novartis said it was calling for a judicial review “as a last resort” because it believed patient safety was being potentially compromised. According to the U.K.’s health watchdog, Novartis’ Lucentis is the only drug recommended to treat the eye problem macular degeneration in the country’s state-run National Health Service hospitals. However, several NHS hospitals have been prescribing the much cheaper Avastin, a cancer drug made by Genentech Inc., a subsidiary of Roche, for the same problem even though it has not been officially approved. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine last year showed Avastin worked just as well as Lucentis for treating the eye disorder. Lucentis and Avastin act on the same biological protein in the body to spur blood vessel growth. In the U.S., eye doctors have often used tiny amounts of Avastin and billed the government for the cost, rather than buying Lucentis. Patient groups called for an independent analysis to determine which drug should be used.
Note: For lots more from reliable sources on corporate corruption, click here.
A Drumbeat on Profit Takers
2012-03-20, New York Times
Dr. Arnold S. Relman [is] 88; Dr. Marcia Angell, 72. But their voices are as strong as ever. Colleagues for decades, late-life romantic partners, the pair has occasionally, wistfully, been called American medicine’s royal couple. In fact, controversy and some considerably less complimentary labels have dogged them as well. From 1977 to 2000, one or both of them filled top editorial slots at The New England Journal of Medicine as it grew into perhaps the most influential medical publication in the world, with a voice echoing to Wall Street, Washington and beyond. Many of the urgent questions in the accelerating turmoil surrounding health care today were first articulated during their tenure. Or, as Dr. Relman summarized one recent afternoon ..., Dr. Angell nodding in agreement by his side: “I told you so.” Their joint crusade ... is against for-profit medicine, especially its ancillary profit centers of commercial insurance and drug manufacture — in Dr. Relman’s words, “the people who are making a zillion bucks out of the commercial exploitation of medicine.” Some have dismissed the pair as medical Don Quixotes, comically deluded figures tilting at benign features of the landscape. Others consider them first responders in what has become a battle for the soul of American medicine.
Note: For a powerful summary of Dr. Marcia Angell's critique of corruption in the medical industry, click here.
F.D.A. Finds Short Supply of Attention Deficit Drugs
2012-01-01, New York Times
Medicines to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder are in such short supply that hundreds of patients complain daily to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that they are unable to find a pharmacy with enough pills to fill their prescriptions. The shortages are a result of a troubled partnership between drug manufacturers and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), with companies trying to maximize their profits and drug-enforcement agents trying to minimize abuse by people. Shortages, particularly of cheaper generics, have become so endemic that some patients say they worry almost constantly about availability. The DEA sets manufacturing quotas that are designed to control supplies and thwart abuse. Every year, the DEA ... allots portions of the expected demand to various companies. How each manufacturer divides its quota among its own ADHD medicines — preparing some as high-priced brands and others as cheaper generics — is left up to the company. Officials at the FDA say the shortages are a result of overly strict quotas set by the DEA, which, for its part, questions whether there really are shortages or whether manufacturers are simply choosing to make more of the expensive pills than the generics, creating supply and demand imbalances.
Note: This curious story reveals an astonishing level of government manipulation of the manufacturing and availability of medications, and corporations appear to go along with it because it keeps profits high. For lots more on government and corportate corruption from reliable sources, click here and here.
Ghostwritten medical articles called fraud
2011-08-02, CBC News
It's fraudulent for academics to give their names to medical articles ghostwritten by pharmaceutical industry writers, say two Canadian law professors who call for potential legal sanctions. Studies suggest that industry-driven drug trials and industry-sponsored publications are more likely to downplay a drug's harms and exaggerate a drug's virtues, said Trudo Lemmens, a law professor at the University of Toronto. The integrity of medical research is also harmed by ghostwritten articles, he said. Ghostwriting is part of marketing that can distort the evidence on a drug, Lemmens said. Industry authors are concealed to insert marketing messages and academic experts are recruited as "guest" authors to lend credibility despite not fulfilling criteria for authorship, such as participating in the design of the study, gathering data, analyzing the results and writing up of the findings. Lemmens and his colleague Prof. Simon Stern argue that legal remedies are needed for medical ghostwriting since medical journals, academic institutions and professional disciplinary bodies haven't succeeded in enforcing sanctions against the practice. Ghostwritten publications are used in court to support a manufacturer's arguments about a drug's safety and effectiveness, and academic experts who appear as witnesses for pharmaceutical and medical device companies also boost their credibility with the publications on their CV, Lemmens said.
Note: For a respected doctor's powerful analysis of fraud in the pharmaceutical industry, click here. For lots more from reliable sources on key health issues, click here.
WikiLeaks cables: Pfizer 'used dirty tricks to avoid clinical trial payout'
2010-12-09, The Guardian (One of the UK's leading newspapers)
The world's biggest pharmaceutical company hired investigators to unearth evidence of corruption against the Nigerian attorney general in order to persuade him to drop legal action over a controversial drug trial involving children with meningitis, according to a leaked US embassy cable. Pfizer was sued by the Nigerian state and federal authorities, who claimed that children were harmed by a new antibiotic, Trovan, during the trial, which took place in the middle of a meningitis epidemic of unprecedented scale in Kano in the north of Nigeria in 1996. But the cable suggests that the US drug giant did not want to pay out to settle the two cases – one civil and one criminal – brought by the Nigerian federal government. The cable reports a meeting between Pfizer's country manager, Enrico Liggeri, and US officials at the Abuja embassy on 9 April 2009. It states: "According to Liggeri, Pfizer had hired investigators to uncover corruption links to federal attorney general Michael Aondoakaa to expose him and put pressure on him to drop the federal cases. He said Pfizer's investigators were passing this information to local media." The cable ... continues: "A series of damaging articles detailing Aondoakaa's 'alleged' corruption ties were published in February and March. Liggeri contended that Pfizer had much more damaging information on Aondoakaa and that Aondoakaa's cronies were pressuring him to drop the suit for fear of further negative articles."
Note: For more on this revealing case, see the New York Times article available here.
Drug recalls surge
2010-08-16, CNN Money
Recalls of prescription and over the counter drugs are surging, raising questions about the quality of drug manufacturing in the United States. The Food and Drug Administration reported more than 1,742 recalls last year, skyrocketing from 426 in 2008, according to the Gold Sheet, a trade publication on drug quality that analyzes FDA data. One company, drug repackager Advantage Dose, accounted for more than 1,000 of those recalls. Even excluding Advantage Dose, which has shut down, recalls jumped 50% last year. "We've seen a trend where the last four years are among the top five for the most number of drug recalls since we began tallying recalls in 1988," said Bowman Cox, managing editor of the Gold Sheet. "That's a meaningful development." The fast pace of drug recalls seems to be continuing in 2010. Drug recalls totaled 296 from January through June of this year, said Cox. "If we continue at this same rate, we could get 600 or more recalls by the end of the year," he said. "That's still a very high rate of recalls." High-profile recalls of Tylenol and other products by McNeil Consumer Healthcare, a unit of Johnson & Johnson, have drawn attention to quality concerns in manufacturing. The spike in recalls, especially of generic and over-the-counter drugs, is being driven by manufacturing lapses, experts say. Some of the biggest culprits: the quality of raw materials, faulty labeling and packaging and contamination.
Note: For lots more on corporate corruption from major media sources, click here.
The Anti-Lesbian Drug
2010-07-02, Newsweek magazine
Genetic engineers, move over: the latest scheme for creating children to a parent’s specifications requires no DNA tinkering, but merely giving mom a steroid while she’s pregnant, and presto —- no chance that her daughters will be lesbians or (worse?) ‘uppity.’
Or so one might guess from the storm brewing over the prenatal use of that steroid, called dexamethasone. In February, bioethicist Alice Dreger of Northwestern University and two colleagues blew the whistle on the controversial practice of giving pregnant women dexamethasone to keep the female fetuses they are carrying from developing ambiguous genitalia. Dreger and her colleagues pluck numerous brow-raising statements from the writings of pediatric endocrinologist Maria New of Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York, who has long promoted prenatal dexamethasone. New has indeed argued that prenatal androgens can affect a woman’s sexual orientation, her interest in becoming a mother and housewife, her interest in traditionally masculine careers, and—in childhood—whether she plays with dolls or trucks. A book that Harvard University Press will publish in September, called Brain Storm: Flaws in the Science of Sex Differences, argues that studies claiming to find innate, sex-based brain differences are seriously flawed.
When drug makers' profits outweigh penalties
2010-03-21, Washington Post/Bloomberg News
Across the United States, pharmaceutical companies have pleaded guilty to criminal charges or paid penalties in civil cases when the Justice Department finds that they deceptively marketed drugs for unapproved uses, putting millions of people at risk of chest infections, heart attacks, suicidal impulses or death. "Marketing departments of many drug companies don't respect any boundaries of professionalism or the law," says Jerry Avorn, a professor at Harvard Medical School. The widespread off-label promotion of drugs is yet another manifestation of a health-care system that has become dysfunctional. About 15 percent of all U.S. drug sales are for unapproved uses without adequate evidence the medicines work, according to a study by Randall Stafford, a medical professor at Stanford University. As large as the penalties are for drug companies caught breaking the off-label law, the fines are tiny compared with the firms' annual revenue. The $2.3 billion in fines and penalties Pfizer paid for marketing Bextra and three other drugs cited in the Sept. 2 plea agreement for off-label uses amount to just 14 percent of its $16.8 billion in revenue from selling those medicines from 2001 to 2008.
Note: For lots more on government and corporate corruption, click here and here.
Poor Children Likelier to Get Antipsychotics
2009-12-12, New York Times
New federally financed drug research reveals a stark disparity: children covered by Medicaid are given powerful antipsychotic medicines at a rate four times higher than children whose parents have private insurance. And the Medicaid children are more likely to receive the drugs for less severe conditions than their middle-class counterparts, the data shows. Those findings, by a team from Rutgers and Columbia, are almost certain to add fuel to a long-running debate. Do too many children from poor families receive powerful psychiatric drugs not because they actually need them – but because it is deemed the most efficient and cost-effective way to control problems that may be handled much differently for middle-class children? The questions go beyond the psychological impact on Medicaid children, serious as that may be. Antipsychotic drugs can also have severe physical side effects, causing drastic weight gain and metabolic changes resulting in lifelong physical problems. Part of the reason is insurance reimbursements, as Medicaid often pays much less for counseling and therapy than private insurers do. Studies have found that children in low-income families may have a higher rate of mental health problems – perhaps two to one – compared with children in better-off families. But that still does not explain the four-to-one disparity in prescribing antipsychotics.
Note: For many important health reports from reliable sources, click here.
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to revealing excerpts of key major media news articles on several dozen engaging topics. And don't miss amazing excerpts from 20 of the most revealing news articles ever published.