Is Your Child Mentally Ill?

by MARTHA ROSENBERG

How has Big Pharma managed to get so many children on expensive drug cocktails for “mental illness”? Drugs that they may not even need?

Big Pharma has spent millions on public relations campaigns that tell parents, teachers and clinicians to dose children at the first sign of problems. It knows if parents treat their kids early they will never know if the kids needed the drugs in the first place and whether residual problems are “mental illness” or drug side effects. The kids will also probably be life long customers because parents will be afraid to take them off the drugs. No wonder Pharma tells parents not to wait for “excessive energy” or “mood swings” to go away in the awareness campaigns. Ka-ching.

One “prescribe early” campaign for the atypical antipsychotic Risperdal uses a macabre abandoned wallet, a teddy bear, and keys on a barren street “to reposition a drug that was being used too late to achieve its maximum benefits,” said its advertising agency, Torre Lazur McCann. Brand managers for Seroquel, a competing antipsychotic, even considered creating Winnie-the-Pooh characters like Tigger (bipolar) and Eeyore (depressed) to sell Seroquel, according to published reports, at an AstraZeneca sales meeting. Parents say they have seen toys emblazoned with Seroquel logos.

Only one child in ten thousand has pediatric schizophrenia—some say one in thirty thousand—but that doesn’t stop Gabriele Masi, MD, with the Stella Maris Institute for Child and Adolescent Neuropsychiatry at the University of Pisa in Italy from portraying it as a public health problem. In an article titled “Children with Schizophrenia: Clinical Picture and Pharmacological Treatment,” in the journal CNS Drugs, Masi writes, “Awareness of childhood- onset schizophrenia is rapidly
increasing, with a more precise definition now available of the clinical picture and early signs, the outcome and the treatment strategies.”

Symptoms of childhood schizophrenia include “social deficits” and “delusions . . . related to childhood themes,” writes Masi. What child doesn’t have “social deficits”? Do delusions include imaginary playmates? Masi lambastes the “hesitancy on the part of clinicians to make a diagnosis of schizophrenia,” instead of prescribing early. Masi has received research funding from Eli Lilly, served as an advisor for Shire and been on speakers bureaus for Sanofi Aventis, AstraZeneca, GSK, and Janssen, all of which manufacture many of the leading psychiatric drugs for children, according to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.

It’s tempting to ridicule Pharma funded doctors who find mental illness and even relapses and “treatment resistance” in people who have been on the planet for forty months. But pathologizing three-year-olds isn’t funny. Both four-year-old Rebecca Riley of Hull, Massachusetts, and three-year- old Destiny Hager of Council Grove, Kansas, died in 2006 from psychiatric drugs that included Geodon and Seroquel to treat their “bipolar disorders.” And in 2009, seven-year-old Gabriel Myers of Broward County, Florida, a child in a state facility, hung himself while on Symbyax, a pill that combines Zyprexa and Prozac. If it weren’t for Big Pharma’s prescribe early campaigns, these children, and others, might still be alive. END

Martha Rosenberg’s is an investigative health reporter. She is the author of  Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health (Prometheus).

 


Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
September 03, 2015
David Macaray
The Unbearable Lightness of Treaties
Chad Nelson
Lessig Uses a Scalpel Where a Machete is Needed
September 02, 2015
Paul Street
Strange Words From St. Bernard and the Sandernistas
Jose Martinez
Houston, We Have a Problem: False Equivalencies on Police Violence
Henry Giroux
Global Capitalism and the Culture of Mad Violence
Ajamu Baraka
Making Black Lives Matter in Riohacha, Colombia
William Edstrom
Wall Street and the Military are Draining Americans High and Dry
David Altheide
The Media Syndrome Between a Glock and a GoPro
Yves Engler
Canada vs. Africa
Ron Jacobs
The League of Empire
Andrew Smolski
Democracy and Privatization in Neoliberal Mexico
Stephen Lendman
Gaza: a Socioeconomic Dead Zone
Norman Pollack
Obama, Flim-Flam Artist: Alaska Offshore Drilling
Binoy Kampmark
Australian Border Force Gore
Ruth Fowler
Ask Not: Lost in the Crowd with Amanda Palmer
Kim Nicolini
Remembering Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes
September 01, 2015
Mike Whitney
Return to Crisis: Things Keep Getting Worse
Michael Schwalbe
The Moral Hazards of Capitalism
Eric Mann
Inside the Civil Rights Movement: a Conversation With Julian Bond
Pam Martens
How Wall Street Parasites Have Devoured Their Hosts, Your Retirement Plan and the U.S. Economy
Jonathan Latham
Growing Doubt: a Scientist’s Experience of GMOs
Fran Shor
Occupy Wall Street and the Sanders Campaign: a Case of Historical Amnesia?
Joe Paff
The Big Trees: Cockburn, Marx and Shostakovich
Randy Blazak
University Administrators Allow Fraternities to Turn Colleges Into Rape Factories
Robert Hunziker
The IPCC Caught in a Pressure Cooker
George Wuerthner
Myths of the Anthropocene Boosters: Truthout’s Misguided Attack on Wilderness and National Park Ideals
Robert Koehler
Sending Your Children Off to Safe Spaces in College
Jesse Jackson
Season of the Insurgents: From Trump to Sanders
August 31, 2015
Michael Hudson
Whitewashing the IMF’s Destructive Role in Greece
Conn Hallinan
Europe’s New Barbarians
Lawrence Ware
George Bush (Still) Doesn’t Care About Black People
Joseph Natoli
Plutocracy, Gentrification and Racial Violence
Franklin Spinney
One Presidential Debate You Won’t Hear: Why It is Time to Adopt a Sensible Grand Strategy
Dave Lindorff
What’s Wrong with Police in America
Louis Proyect
Jacobin and “The War on Syria”
Lawrence Wittner
Militarism Run Amok: How Russians and Americans are Preparing Their Children for War
Binoy Kampmark
Tales of Darkness: Europe’s Refugee Woes
Ralph Nader
Lo, the Poor Enlightened Billionaire!
Peter Koenig
Greece: a New Beginning? A New Hope?
Dean Baker
America Needs an “Idiot-Proof” Retirement System
Vijay Prashad
Why the Iran Deal is Essential
Tom Clifford
The Marco Polo Bridge Incident: a History That Continues to Resonate
Peter Belmont
The Salaita Affair: a Scandal That Never Should Have Happened
Weekend Edition
August 28-30, 2015
Randy Blazak
Donald Trump is the New Face of White Supremacy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Long Time Coming, Long Time Gone