Friday, October 05, 2007

A Congressman Speaks Out On Big Pharma's Pet Plan

Ron Paul's

Texas Straight Talk

A Weekly Column


Congressional Control of Health Care is Dangerous for Children

This week Congress is again grasping for more control over the health of American children with the expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Parents who think federally subsidized health care might be a good idea should be careful what they wish for.

Despite political rhetoric about a War on Drugs, federally-funded programs result in far more teenage drug use than the most successful pill pusher on the playground. These pills are given out as a result of dubious universal mental health screening programs for school children, supposedly directed toward finding mental disorders or suicidal tendencies. The use of antipsychotic medication in children has increased fivefold between 1995 and 2002. More than 2.5 million children are now taking these medications, and many children are taking multiple drugs at one time.

With universal mental health screening being implemented in schools, pharmaceutical companies stand to increase their customer base even more, and many parents are rightfully concerned. Opponents of one such program called TeenScreen, claim it wrongly diagnoses children as much as 84% of the time, often incorrectly labeling them, resulting in the assigning of medications that can be very damaging. While we are still awaiting evidence that there are benefits to mental health screening programs, evidence that these drugs actually cause violent psychotic episodes is mounting.

Many parents have very valid concerns about the drugs to which a child labeled as “suicidal” or “depressed,” or even ADHD, could be subjected. Of further concern is the subjectivity of diagnosis of mental health disorders. The symptoms of ADHD are strikingly similar to indications that a child is gifted, and bored in an unchallenging classroom. In fact, these programs, and many of the syndromes they attempt to screen for, are highly questionable. Parents are wise to question them.

As it stands now, parental consent is required for these screening programs, but in some cases mere passive consent is legal. Passive consent is obtained when a parent receives a consent form and fails to object to the screening. In other words, failure to reply is considered affirmative consent. In fact, TeenScreen advocates incorporating their program into the curriculum as a way to by-pass any consent requirement. These universal, or mandatory, screening programs being called for by TeenScreen and the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health should be resisted.

Consent must be express, written, voluntary and informed. Programs that refuse to give parents this amount of respect, should not receive federal funding. Moreover, parents should not be pressured into screening or drugging their children with the threat that not doing so constitutes child abuse or neglect. My bill, The Parental Consent Act of 2007 is aimed at stopping federal funding of these programs.

We don’t need a village, a bureaucrat, or the pharmaceutical industry raising our children. That’s what parents need to be doing.

Bad Drugs Getting Bad Press

The press is catching on about Prozac and other psychiatric drugs and their ill effects. Here are some examples of recent articles:

. The New York Times ran an article entitled "Senators Seek Public Listing of Payments to Doctors" regarding the bill introduced by Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA) and Herb Kohl (D-WI) that require the makers of drugs and medical devices to report publicly nearly all payments and gifts to doctors. The bill results from growing concerns that free meals and consulting payments-which in some cases have exceeded $100,000 annually-lead doctors to prescribe more expensive drugs and devices, increasing the costs of health care and sometimes endangering patients. Companies with at least $100 million in annual revenues would have to make quarterly disclosures of gifts or payments that exceed $25, and the reports would be posted on a website. "Right now, the public has no way to know whether a doctor's been given money that might affect prescribing habits," said Senator Charles E.
Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee and one of the bill's authors.

. The Chicago Tribune published an article entitled, "Drug-related deaths, injuries reported to FDA surged between 1998-2005, study finds:
Report expected to add momentum to push in Washington to reform the federal government's monitoring of prescription drugs." A new study in the American Medical Association's Archives of Internal Medicine found that the number of serious drug injuries and deaths reported to the FDA have already more than doubled between 1998 and 2005. This information adds to a growing momentum for Congress to enact strong monitoring of prescription drugs by the FDA.
Senator Charles Grassley stated, "This report is another indication that the FDA's post-market review of drugs must be rigorous and timely. The FDA needs to commit itself to considering and acting on the additional data gathered from more adverse events being reported considering the deaths associated with these adverse drug events.",0,1014894.story

. ran an article entitled "Antidepressant Use and Conflicts of Interest" about the controversy over the financial conflicts of interest between the pharmaceutical and psychiatric industries. The journalist, Ed Silverman, points out that (at least) two of the authors of a recent pro-psych study have ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

. RxPG News ran an article entitled "Depression: SSRI anti-depressants may cause stillbirth" about how women who take antidepressants during pregnancy face the risk of a stillborn baby, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Canadian researchers at the University of Ottawa compared the health of babies born to
972 women taking SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) with that of babies born to mothers who did not use anti-depressants. They found that women using the drugs were twice as likely to have a stillbirth, and were twice as likely to have a low birth weight baby and also more likely to have seizures. depressants_may_cause_stillbirth_3965_3965.shtml

. FOX News ran an article on its website entitled "Anna Nicole Smith Psychiatrist Forced to Close Office Amid Financial Woes" regarding how Dr.
Khristine Eroshevic, who wrote 11 different prescriptions for Smith, has already closed one of her offices due to a current Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigation. The psychiatrist blames it on bad press and the fallout from being accused of filling a medicine cabinet on behalf of Smith.,2933,295785,00.html

. ran an article entitled "Food Additives Could Fuel Hyperactivity in Kids-Study makes first link between colorings, preservatives and behavioral woes" that covers how British researchers found some common food colorings and preservatives appear to increase the risk of hyperactive behavior among children. The link between food additives and hyperactivity has long been suspected, but this is the first study to show a direct connection. In the study, published in the Sept. 6 issue of The Lancet, researchers gave drinks containing additives to 297 children. The children were in two groups: 3 year olds and 8 and 9 year olds. The drinks contained artificial food coloring and additives such as sodium benzoate, a preservative. As a control, some children were given drinks without additives. Over the six weeks of the trial, researchers found that children in both age groups who drank the drinks containing additives displayed significantly more hyperactive behavior. These children also had shorter attention spans.