Friday, December 22, 2006

Drug Company Lies

Here's a great article from the Austin American-Statesman:
And, for additional information concerning Drug Company illegal acts, lawsuits and funding of Psychiatric Programs, go to for routine updates.

Leading Pharmaceutical Company, Johnson and Johnson and Several Subsidiaries Misrepresented the Safety and Effectiveness of Anti-Psychotic Drug (Risperdal) – Then Influenced State Officials into Making the Suspect Drug a Standard Treatment in Public Mental Programs.

By Jason Embry, W. Gardner Selby
December 16, 2006

Texas Attorney General, Greg Abbott joined the suit and alleges official State's mental facilities were duped into using the drug. A lawsuit against the pharmaceutical company claims State official pushed the drug and was rewarded with money.

Attorney General Greg Abbott joined the lawsuit filed in Travis County district court by Allen Jones, a former investigator for the state of Pennsylvania, against Johnson & Johnson Inc. and five related companies. Jones says in the lawsuit that he learned of payments to at least one Texas mental health official in interviews he conducted as an investigator. No official is named in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit, which came to light Friday, seeks to recover for the state untallied alleged overcharges to the state's Medicaid program, which pays for health care for low-income people.

Jones' lawsuit alleges that the companies launched a drug named Risperdal in 1994 to treat schizophrenia. About the same time, the state was developing a protocol, or treatment guidelines, for which drugs should be used in public mental health programs. The defendants "provided substantial financial contributions to and improperly influenced the development" of the protocols, the lawsuit said, and Risperdal took precedence in the protocols over cheaper, equally effective medicines.

The drug later received recommendations as the medicine of choice in the state's mental health protocol for treating children and adolescents, even though it lacked a Food and Drug Administration indication for those age groups, the lawsuit says. It says side effects and health risks include increased chance of stroke, renal failure and hyperglycemia.

The companies pushed Risperdal in other states through paid consultants on expert panels, peer-to-peer marketing strategies and "administrative decisions made by a select few public officials," the lawsuit says. The companies sent an unnamed Texas official around the country as a spokesman for the drug, and they hired third-party contractors to conceal their control and funding of medical education programs, speakers' bureaus and clinical research that promoted the benefits and safety of Risperdal, the lawsuit says.

The lawsuit says at least 17 states, including Texas, have implemented the protocol or are doing so.

"We allege it's a scheme whereby they passed off as medical science phony representations and misleading facts about the efficacy and appropriateness of these drugs," said Thomas Melsheimer, a lawyer for Jones.

Abbott's office declined to comment on the lawsuit, as did spokesmen for Johnson & Johnson and the state's Health and Human Services Commission, which oversees the Medicaid program. A commission spokesman did say Texas paid 308,000 claims totaling $73.5 million for Risperdal in 2005.

Melsheimer described Jones as a "classic whistle-blower" who filed the lawsuit in 2004 on behalf of Texas to recover the companies' overcharges. Because of his whistle-blower status, the lawsuit was sealed from public view until Abbott joined it.

Copyright 2001 – 2006 Cox Texas Newspapers, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Ouch! Burned my fingers on this one...

This is a letter to the editor from a mother in Fort Madison, Iowa. It is apparently an answer to an attack on a previous letter she wrote, but the content of this letter is self-explanatory.

It is from the Opinion section of the Fort Madison Daily Democrat newspaper.

Fort Madison Daily, Iowa
December 19, 2006
Mission accomplished - My objective was to make parents think twice about TeenScreen

I wrote the original letter about the Teen Screen test being given in the schools. Ms. Gutman and Ms. Jarvis said "much of the letter was inaccurate and seemingly misinformed." I'm wondering what was inaccurate or misinformed.

The first thing they addressed was that the test was given with the consent of the parents and the students. I never said anything to indicate it wasn't. As a matter of fact, in my letter I said "Central Lee sends home a permission slip, but the permission slip gives the parent no idea of the content of the test or the repercussions." So I wasn't inaccurate or misinformed in that.

My letter said that it's being billed as a "suicide prevention test." Their letter called it a "suicide risk screening program." Very little difference there. Their letter said "TeenScreen is a screening program only and does not involve diagnosis or treatment as the letter insinuates." I believe Teresa Rhoades of Indiana would have to disagree with that. She has filed a lawsuit because her daughter was diagnosed and labeled at school without the benefit of her parents' presence. By the time her daughter came home from school at the end of the day, she was very distraught because she didn't understand the meaning of obsessive compulsive disorder and social anxiety disorder. I have used her name with permission and she also gave me permission to include her e-mail address. You may check the facts with her directly at or Google Teen Screen Lawsuits.

Their letter goes on to explain how this test is not "affiliated with or funded by any pharmaceutical companies." I find it very interesting that you should suggest that, as I never suggested any such thing in my letter. I suggested that the desire was to put the teen on psychotropic drugs. A doctor doesn't have to have any affiliation with a pharmaceutical company to prescribe a medication for a patient. The quote "me thinks thee doth protest too much" comes to mind.

You then said that teen suicide is the second leading cause of death for teens. And while any number is unacceptable, it only stands to reason that it would be second only to trauma. After all, most teens don't die of heart attacks or strokes. You made it sound as if we're in the midst of an epidemic of teen suicides. As anyone who's been following these letters can see, that's hardly the case. Teen suicide is actually very rare.

As the last letter said, do we really need a test putting ideas in the minds of emotionally healthy young people when it's highly likely that a teen who's considering suicide will show signs that family, teachers, friends or clergy will already have picked up on and be working with? I also listed some of the questions on the test. I can assure you those were neither inaccurate nor misinformed. My daughter took the test and stated unequivocally those questions were on the test. My goal was to get parents to think about what is going on with their children at school and check it out. So I very much appreciate your letter in that if people have been reading the Letters to the Editor, I have very likely achieved that goal.

Jeannie Hetzer

Ft. Madison