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Radically Inept
Friday, April 16, 2004
  Expensive depression

Now, I know I may be extremely cynical in comparison to many of my fellow citizens. And it could be true that I see connections in activities that others might disregard, but I wonder if this: The New York Times: The Altered Human Is Already Here:
"More people shift to the pill-taking life every year, to the delight of pharmaceutical manufacturers. Indeed, drug sales suggest how willing people are to pursue better living through chemistry.

Last year retail drug sales worldwide were $317 billion. In the United States alone, consumers spent $163 billion on drugs. In North America, the use of drugs that affect the central nervous system, antidepressants and others, increased 17 percent. No group has escaped. Last week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 10 million children took prescription medication for three months or longer in 2002, and preschoolers, another study found, are now the fastest growing group of children receiving antidepressants.

This is a social change on the same order as the advent of computers, but one that is taking place inside the human body. Just 50 years ago, according to a report by IMS Health, a company that tracks the pharmaceutical industry, the two biggest-selling over-the-counter drugs were Bufferin and Geritol. The prescription drug business was tiny. In 1954, according to IMS, Johnson & Johnson had $204 million in revenue. Now it is about $36 billion. In 1954, Merck took in $1.5 million in drug sales; in 2002, that figure was $52 billion."
Has anything to do with this:The New York Times: Expert Kept From Speaking at Antidepressant Hearing:
"Top Food and Drug Administration officials admitted yesterday that they barred the agency's top expert from testifying at a public hearing about his conclusion that antidepressants cause children to become suicidal because they viewed his findings as alarmist and premature.

'It would have been entirely inappropriate to present as an F.D.A. conclusion an analysis of data that were not ripe,' Dr. Robert Temple, the Food and Drug Administration's associate director of medical policy, said in an interview. 'This is a very serious matter. If you get it wrong and over-discourage the use of these medicines, people could die.'

Dr. Temple was seeking to quell a growing controversy into whether the agency's warnings on March 22 that antidepressant therapy could lead patients to become suicidal were sufficient.

'There is concern that we hid data,' said Dr. Temple. 'We did not hide data. It was there for all to see.'

Recent studies have shown that children given antidepressants are more likely to become suicidal than those given placebos. But the studies have lead to different interpretations by psychiatrists. The refusal by drug companies to publish the studies has worsened the confusion. Internal agency documents obtained by The New York Times show that federal health officials are divided, too.

Dr. Andrew D. Mosholder, an agency epidemiologist, was the man charged with analyzing 22 studies involving 4,250 children and seven drugs. In a carefully argued, 33-page memorandum, he concluded that children given antidepressants were almost twice as likely as those given placebos to become suicidal.

He urged the agency to discourage doctors from prescribing to children all antidepressants except Prozac. Prozac is the only antidepressant proven effective in treating depressed children, and its studies showed no link with suicide, Dr. Mosholder wrote. Dr. Mosholder's conclusions mirrored those made by British health authorities."
I guess kids committing suicide is better than children not being depressed? I mean let's look at some of that again.
Temple: If you get it wrong and over-discourage the use of these medicines, people could die.'

Mosholder: In a carefully argued, 33-page memorandum, he concluded that children given antidepressants were almost twice as likely as those given placebos to become suicidal.

And, Mosholder again: Prozac is the only antidepressant proven effective in treating depressed children, and its studies showed no link with suicide, Dr. Mosholder wrote.


Okay, let me see if I can sum the information: It is preferable to prescribe expensive, ineffective drugs which cause suicidal depression in users who are prescribed these drugs to combat depression, then not to prescribe them and have someone die? Do have that right? That is the reason that Mosholder was not allowed to testify rather than the influence of major pharma, right?

I mean it could be a coincidence. Money and lobbyists may not actually influence how the FDA decides on these matters under the current Baby Bush administration. But considering the number of such coincidences occurring in the past three years, at somepoint a series of coincidences becomes a pattern. And I think what we have here is a part of a pattern. Of course, I just may just be overly suspicious, but I don't think so. 
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