The Stringer has written a series of articles on the over prescribing of ADHD drugs, the bent by pharmaceutical companies to market them beyond what they should, the relationships generated between pharmaceutical companies and health practitioners and between companies and governments.
In March, The Stringer wrote about the diagnosing of ADHD among Western Australian children, the spike in these diagnoses which led to WA becoming one of the world’s hotspots for ADHD, and we wrote of the work of researchers and parliamentarian Martin Whitely to expose this, and more importantly to remedy this. Much has been done to educate. But it is our belief that many of the children who were diagnosed as ADHD are now adults still on the medication, and therefore for many of them it is reasonable to consider that they are condemned to various ideation and trappings.
In The Weekend West, October 12-13, 6PR 882 morning program host Paul Murray, wrote an article titled – ‘ADHD drug’s ‘suicidality’ needs probe’. Mr Murray opened up his article with, “There are many experts who come to the conclusion that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder is the perfect example of modern psychiatry’s ability to invent diseases.” He described quite rightly the concern of a pill-borne solution bent society, one contrived by the marketing arms of pharmaceutical companies – this is an ongoing conversation being had by medical practitioners and medical conferences the world over, one that they are not winning but are increasingly concerned about, and to which many health practitioners are taking stances to.
Mr Murray wrote, “I’ve waited a week to record the reaction to the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s notification of the suicide of a nine-year old boy as a result of his treatment with the medication – and the attempted suicide of two others.”
“There’s no review of the safety of the widely-prescribed Strattera, nor of its inclusion on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. No public outcry about the suicide of a very young child.”
Pharmaceutical companies address the prospect of suicidal ideation by fine print – but how many people who are hostage to aberration, hostage to synaptic breakdowns, spiralling in tight fisted mental breakdown will call out for help or will stop taking the medication in the event it is the medication as the origin, will they identify the medication as the problem? Many don’t, and instead of seeking help from parents, spouses and their doctor they turn on themselves, they grieve, they anger, they rage, they bang their head against the wall, they open a speeding car door and try to fling their body out, they take more medication to quell the tumult, and then even more, they displace anger on others, back on to themselves, back on to others, back on to themselves and in many cases to such a point that they destruct and to extinguish the tumult take their life. The situational trauma becomes multiple, clinical disorders myriad, hence ongoing, a continuing stress disorder, anxiety, agitation, panic, hypomania, mania wrapped up in the continuing stress – traumatic stress lived daily. It takes its toll.
Why is it so many psychiatrists have prescribed ADHD medications? Why is it so many children and adults in Western Australia have been diagnosed with ADHD?
Mr Murray wrote, “The man credited with discovering ADHD in the 1960s, John Hopkins University’s Dr Leon Eisenberg, is said to have made a deathbed confession in 2009 that the condition was fictitious. However, that appears to have been based on a dodgy translation of an interview done in German. More reliable is his obituary in the New York Times: ‘In his later years, Dr Eisenberg became increasingly alarmed at trends in the field he helped established, criticising what he saw as a cosy relationship between drug makers and doctors and the expanding popularity of the attention deficit diagnosis.’”
“The diagnosis ‘has morphed from a relative uncommon condition 40 years ago to one whose current prevalence is 8 per cent’, he wrote.”
Mr Murray described the use of Strattera, the drug manufactured by pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly. The drug has been licensed for use by the Therapeutics Goods Association, but one year after its licencing for use in Australia, the USA’s Food and Drug Administration was reviewing its own decision to license Strattera. It was concerned about the increased risks of suicidal thinking in children and adolescents. Eventually the FDA gave out a warning to doctors and then a public warning but it would be a year later that the TGA would give out similar warning, with the public notification only weeks ago.
The public notification warned users, parents and caregivers to be on the alert for “unusual changes in behaviour or precursors or suicidality, such as anxiety, agitation, panic attacks, insomnia, irritability, hostility, aggressiveness, impulsivity, akathisia, hypomania or mania.”
Mr Murray wrote, “Last year, former Labor MP Martin Whitely obtained details of more than 106 adverse events associated with Strattera that had been voluntarily notified to the TGA.”
Mr Whitely maintains a blog site: Speed Up and Sit Still – http://speedupsitstill.com/
For a list of the adverse events associated with Strattera go to http://speedupsitstill.com/strattera
The list compiled by Mr Whitely is disturbing. Mr Murray wrote, “Tony Abbott was the health minister when Strattera was put on the (Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme) in 2007. Mr Whitely warned him beforehand about the suicide risks and evidence of liver damage, without success.”
“After a change of government, he told health minister Nicola Roxon about the growing number of ‘horrific adverse reactions’ and was again dismissed.”
“When Mr Whitely subsequently tried to find out the reasons for the PBS listing through the Freedom of Information laws and was rebuffed, he ended up with a judgment from the Administrative Appeals Tribunal that effectively gave Eli Lilly’s documents the same privacy status as an individual patient’s medical records.”
“’This decision created a precedent that the public has no legal right to know why the (advisory committee) recommends taxpayers subsidising any drug,’ said Mr Whitely.”
“Eli Lilly and the pharmaceutical industry were the only winners benefiting from $101.2 million of public funds and the public is not allowed to know why,” wrote Mr Murray.
“In the meantime, more Australian children are taking Strattera and risking liver damage, cardiovascular problems, self-harm and suicide.”
On March 21, The Stringer published the following: Australia’s ADHD and dexamphetamine hotspots