Preventive Psychiatry E-Newsletter # 237
Michigan Lawsuit Uncovers Psychiatry’s Dark Secret:
Psychiatric Drug-Induced Movement Disorders in Young Children
by Ben Hansen – From the Spring 2007 newsletter of the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology ( www.icspp.org).
Last month the New York Times exposed yet another example of unethical marketing practices by pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly. The front page story, In Some States, Maker Oversees Use of Its Drug, focused on Lilly’s efforts to coerce Medicaid officials into placing Zyprexa on preferred drug lists in at least 25 states. Eli Lilly was caught in broad daylight with its hands in the “Medicaid cookie jar,” yet the story behind the scenes is deeper than that.
For over a year I’ve been investigating Eli Lilly’s subversion of Michigan’s Medicaid program, and through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit I obtained nearly a thousand pages of documents showing how Medicaid is being milked like a huge cash cow by the pharmaceutical industry. In July 2006 I alerted the New York Times to Lilly’s antics in Michigan. I provided several key documents and solid leads to the reporter covering the story, Stephanie Saul. Overall I was pleased by the way Ms. Saul reported the Lilly/Medicaid scandal, but there’s another part of the story the Times didn’t mention.
The purpose of my FOIA lawsuit in Michigan is not simply to embarrass one pharmaceutical manufacturer — my aim is to gain access to data that will blow the lid off the entire psychiatric drug industry. This may be why the State of Michigan has fought me every step of the way, beginning with my first FOIA request in November 2005. Instead of joining my attempt to shed light on Michigan’s corrupt Medicaid system, the state attorney general’s office has tried to block the release of the documents I’ve requested, even filing a motion to have my lawsuit thrown out of court.
Thankfully, a respected attorney has taken my case pro bono, and we’re mapping a strategy to outmaneuver our opponents. The lawsuit, “Ben Hansen vs. State of Michigan Department of Community Health,” boils down to a fight over the release of records that show a list of each patient’s psychotropic drugs by drug NAME, not just by drug CLASS. For example, we know at least one Michigan Medicaid patient is currently on a total of 17 different psychiatric drugs, but the State of Michigan doesn’t want us to know the names of the drugs in the 17-drug cocktail!
By the time the next ICSPP newsletter is published, I hope to report a successful outcome to this ongoing legal battle. For now I wish to share a sampling of the psychiatric prescribing data I’ve obtained so far. The numbers speak for themselves.
During a 10-month period from January 2006 to October 2006, Michigan Medicaid statistics show:
100% increase in children under age 18 on 3 or more “mood stabilizers”.
100% increase in children age 6-17 on 4 or more psychiatric drugs.
79% increase in adults on 5 or more psychiatric drugs.
67% increase in adults on 3 or more psychiatric drugs.
49% increase in adults on 2 or more insomnia agents.
45% increase in children under age 18 on a benzodiazepine for at least 60 days.
45% increase in children under age 18 on 2 or more antipsychotics.
According to Michigan Medicaid records from 2005, the top 5 psychiatric drug classes prescribed to children under 5 years old were:
1. Anxiolytics/Sedative Hypnotics (1,265 patients under age 5).
2. Antidyskinetics (972 patients under age 5).
3. Anticonvulsants/Mood Stabilizers (933 patients under age 5).
4. Sympathomimetics/Stimulants (408 patients under age 5).
5. Atypical Antipsychotics (322 patients under age 5).
The most recent data on children under age 5, from February to December 2005, shows a 100% increase in children under 5 prescribed antidyskinetics (also called antiparkinsonians) for movement disorders such as dystonia, dyskinesia, tics, and tremors. This is perhaps the most disturbing statistic I’ve uncovered so far. If the same trend continued through 2006, it would mean the prescribing of antidyskinetics to children under 5 years old has quadrupled in the last two years!
If the increased prescribing of antidyskinetics is the direct result of an increase in the diagnosis and treatment of “mental disorders” in American toddlers, then we could be witnessing a public health disaster of monumental proportions. Drug-induced movement disorders in very young children are increasing at an astonishing rate, yet little if any mention of this is reported in the news. Certainly this is not something the pharmaceutical industry and its servant, the American Psychiatric Association, wishes to see publicized. It is the urgent task of organizations like ICSPP to uncover this dark secret and shine a light on it for the world to see. Ben Hansen is a psychiatric survivor and activist who serves on the Michigan Department of Community Health Recipient Rights Advisory Committee. A member of ICSPP and co-founder of MindFreedom Michigan, Ben is also founder and president of the wickedly satirical Bonkers Institute for Nearly Genuine Research. Visit his brilliant web site: www.bonkersinstitute.org
Dr. Bruce Perry, makes the prediction that unless this nation addresses the exponential growth in the problems of at risk children and their families, within this generation we will approach twenty five percent of our entire population qualifying as “special needs”.
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