(Publisher's Note: A close friend is a pharmacist and wishes to share their knowledge and opinion. But to protect their career they wish to remain anonymous. A Very Important Perspective... - This article was submitted for our January 2013 edition of the Freedom's Phoenix eZine only available to our subscribers but I chose to share it with everyone now so that it can be shared widely... Please forward now.)
Loaded Guns, Loaded Kids
What is the root cause of mass shootings?
How people answer that complex
question often depends upon their politics. Like every other problem we
struggle with today, we see a line of bumper stickers drawn down the center of
America: people on the left side frequently answer that guns and the NRA are
the cause, while on the right, the response appears to be divided between
â€śmental illnessâ€ť and â€śevil character/lack of religion.â€ť
This battle of the
bumpers seems to generate the most eye-rolling when someone points out that
mentally ill people are not all violent, and are more likely to be victims of
violence than perpetrators. A â€śnormal kidâ€ť desensitized to brutality by a diet
of violent video games and hate-filled rap lyrics are far more dangerous than
someone who canâ€™t ever manage to be happy. Itâ€™s an important distinction. In
fact, the U.S. Army uses a similar desensitization process to â€śovercome the normal
antipathy to killingâ€ť experienced by young soldiers, according to Lt. Col. Dave
Grossman, a former Army psychologist.
The argument has understandably
grown heated in this year of so many mass shootings. With December 14â€™s mass
murder at Sandy Hook Elementary committed by a young man diagnosed with autism
â€“ a diagnosis by itself not associated with violence â€“ We The People (a group
associated with some Constitution Party members) launched a petition on the
White House website to demand an investigation of drug company products, stating
that between 2004 and 2011, there have been over 11,000 reports to the U.S.
FDAâ€™s MedWatch system of psychiatric drug side effects related to violence.
As a pharmacist, I
agree that itâ€™s long past time for the people of this country to take a hard
look at the side effects of psychiatric drugs. Since I would like to remain
employed, I choose to remain anonymous, like the author of â€śI Am Adam Lanzaâ€™s
Psychiatristâ€ť (who also admits he has trust issues with Big Pharma).
Rather than make a list
of all the mass killers on psychiatric drugs since Eric Harris shot himself in
the Columbine library with therapeutic levels of Luvox in his blood, I will
focus on what I know about the behavior of drug companies. We have yet to find
out what medication Adam Lanza was on. We donâ€™t know the percentage of mass
killers on psychiatric drugs, because many psychiatric records have never been
released to the public (Dylan Klebold and James Holmes are cases in point).
However, drug company
distortions of the truth are no secret. You can read about their indiscretions
everywhere from The New York Times to Psychology Today. â€śFollow
the moneyâ€ť is as true now as it was in the Watergate era.
In July of this year, the
FDA levied its biggest fine ever on drug-maker GlaxoSmithKline, $3 billion to
resolve federal criminal and civil inquiries arising from the company's â€śillegal
promotion of some of its products, failure to report safety data and alleged
false price reporting.â€ť
The company agreed to
plead guilty to three criminal counts, including two counts of pushing
unapproved uses of Paxil and Wellbutrin, and one count of failing to report
safety data about the drug Avandia to the Food and Drug Administration.
This wording by the
Justice Department vastly downplays the reality. Among other sleazy practices,
the company hired attractive women from the ASU golf team to travel around the
country playing golf with doctors. As for â€śfailing to report safety dataâ€ť â€“ is
that what you call it when a company leaves out data about patients who died
from heart attacks during Avandiaâ€™s first clinical trial?
From April 1998 to
August 2003, GlaxoSmithKline hired doctors to tell other doctors to prescribe
the drug Paxil for treating depression in children, though the FDA had never
approved it for anyone under age 18. The same illegal promotion happened with
Wellbutrin from January 1999 to December 2003 for adults who needed help with weight
loss, sexual dysfunction, substance addictions and attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder, despite the fact that it was only approved for
treatment of major depressive disorder.
record-setting fine hit Pfizer, the world's biggest drug maker, in 2009. Pfizer
paid the government $2.3 billion in criminal and civil fines for improperly
marketing 13 different drugs, including Geodon, an antipsychotic, as well as Viagra
and Lipitor. Pfizer was accused of encouraging doctors to prescribe its drugs
with free golf, massages, and junkets to posh resorts.
Itâ€™s worth pointing out
that the usual prescriptions for autism include Adderall-type stimulants, SSRIs
such as Prozac and Luvox, and anti-psychotics. Unfortunately, sometimes doctors
donâ€™t notice that a patient is getting worse, not better. Sometimes they ignore
the familyâ€™s pleas to discontinue the drugs.
Have prescriptions for
these drugs decreased since the fines? I havenâ€™t seen much of a change. Prozac
isnâ€™t prescribed much now, but its popularity has been waning for several
years. In my opinion, weâ€™ll see a drastic change only when drug company
executives are brought up on charges of manslaughter. Timely prosecution could
have prevented much tragic loss. For the families of the victims, itâ€™s small
consolation that the FDA is now $5.3 billion ahead.
â€śViolence and other
potentially criminal behavior caused by prescription drugs are medicineâ€™s best
kept secret,â€ť says Dr. David Healy, a world-famous psychiatrist (and
former Secretary of the British Association for Psychopharmacology) who
has written extensively about the lack of data in evidence-based medicine,
including in his latest book, Pharmageddon (Feb 2012).
Itâ€™s a secret that now
must be shouted from the rooftops.
Or in Americaâ€™s case,
the clock towers.