Dr. Weeks’ Comment: I appreciate Gary’s analysis and his commitment to freedom of choice in health care. I am also a board member, over the past two decades, supporting Ann Blake Tracy’s courageous work shining the light on SSRI drug abuse.
Duty to Warn
It’s the Brain-altering Drugs Stupid:
Addictive Opioids, SSRIs, Anti-psychotics, Benzodiazepines and Suicidality
By Gary G. Kohls, MD – December 18, 2018 (3,471 words)
Posted at: http://freepress.org/geographic-scope/national
“One of the saddest lessons of history is this: If we’ve been bamboozled long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. We’re no longer interested in finding out the truth. The bamboozle has captured us. It is simply too painful to acknowledge — even to ourselves — that we’ve been fooled.” — Carl Sagan, “The Fine Art of Baloney Detection” (February 1, 1987)
Drug Czar Jim McClelland launching the RxADI Indiana initiative in Indianapolis – July 2018
This morning, just as I was about to start writing my weekly Duty to Warn column, I glanced through my local paper, the Duluth News-Tribune, and was confronted by a full-page ad on page A3, essentially identical to the one pictured above, except that the News-Tribune version didn’t have any Indiana groups on the poster.
The ad was titled “Rallying to Address Opioid Addiction”. The ad likely cost well over a thousand dollars and was paid for by an entity that I had never heard of before called “Rx ALI Minnesota”. Rx ALI is the abbreviation for Rx [ie, prescription drug] Abuse Leadership Initiative). The group is apparently a fresh new “alliance” of “concerned” corporate entities that were suddenly interested in the opioid crisis that has been affecting all portions of America for decades.
Or maybe the interest of some of this now-seemingly ubiquitous major alliance that is sponsoring the ad all over America has some ulterior motives, such as trying to obscure the guilt that those behind the initiative should be acknowledging. Perhaps there are hidden entities that have been guilty of actually causing the addiction and suicidality crises in the first place are they are now trying to unjustly be a part of the many altruistic efforts that are going on already.
Pretending to be a part of the solution is easier than admitting that they were a major cause for the crisis in the first place. Big Businesses are notorious for trying to finagle their way into positions of “leadership” when decisions might be made that could affect their share price, shareholder confidence, prestige or corporate survival.
Five days before the full-page RxADI ad appeared in the News-Tribune, there was an opinion piece published that was written by the CEO of CADCA (Community Anti-Drug Coalition of America), one of the ad sponsors seen at the top of the photo image above. The editorial was about dealing with the national opioid crisis. CADCA’s HQ is located in the Washington, DC area, so it was fair to ask what motivated the CEO to specifically write an opinion piece for Duluth readers? In that piece, which was supposedly written specifically for the News=Tribune, CADCA’s CEO named many of the co-sponsors of the ad that was published 5 days later. I knew right away that the proximity of the two items was no coincidence.
So I had to dig further.
Among the 16 named corporate entities that were listed in the ad (only 13 appeared in the Indianapolis poster, I was first noticed the symbol for Pharmaceutical Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) which had been placed in the lower left corner of both the Indiana poster and the Duluth ad. PhRMA is the notorious billion-dollar trade association that represents hundreds of excessively wealthy, politically powerful – and therefore also sociopathic – corporations that are known to have enriched themselves by manufacturing and marketing opioid drugs and a variety of addictive products, in particular, psychiatric drugs.
There is no question that the Big Pharma corporations represented by PhRMA have been, over the past century, major causes of prescription drug addictions, prescription drug over-doses (accidental, intentional, lethal and non-lethal), prescription drug-induced mental ill health, prescription drug-induced physical and mental disabilities, prescription drug-induced shortened lifespans, prescription drug-induced dementia, prescription drug-induced poverty/homelessness (because of prescription drug unaffordability) and prescription drug-induced suicidality. These entities are guilty, guilty, guilty of the many crises that are plaguing the world.
And now they want a seat at the preventive, therapeutic table. Anybody smell a rat?
Immediately below is a partial list of some of the entities that were pictured on the News-Tribune ad that have serious conflicts of interest. They are all hoping that nobody will find out about the existence of the deep-pocketed pharmaceutical corporations that are trying to finagle their way into the efforts of well-meaning groups that are seriously – without any ulterior motives – trying to address the crisis – beyond simply providing plastic bags designed to make easily disposable the unused prescription drugs easier, which is about all that some of these entities are proposing, while patting themselves on the back.
- PhARMA, which represents American pharmaceutical manufacturing corporations, is also in partnership with a number of the other groups in both the RxADI Minnesota ad and the RxADI Indiana poster. Everybody with a modicum of bamboozle-resistance should naturally be suspicious of the motives behind every corporation’s (not just Big Pharma’s) marketing schemes. This story should reinforce those suspicions. Every “good deed” that comes from a Big Business corporation needs to be regarded with skepticism.
I checked the websites of the seven most influential groups of the 16 on the Duluth ad for details on their hidden corporate sponsors, the corporate boards of directors, the CEOs and the staffs, and I discovered many conflicts of interest that were listed in the websites, but only after considerable digging.
Following is a partial list of the six groups that had the most to hide. I leave it up to the reader to figure out what is going on, and then warn the altruistic groups to beware of these groups; when they come offering their “help”.
- The Addiction Policy Forum (APF, with a $17,000,000 annual budget) takes money from the Dublin-based Alkermes Pharmaceutical corporation which manufactures opioid drugs, opioid antagonists and brain-damaging anti-psychotic drugs, including the notoriously neurotoxic, so-called anti-psychotic drug respiridone. APF also takes money from a British drug company called Indivior, which makes a new type of long-lasting antipsychotic drug (actually respiridone) that only requires monthly injections. The CEO of Indivior is on one of the APF’s boards.
- CADCA (the Community Anti-Drug Coalition of America) also takes money from Alkermes; Purdue Pharma (the notorious marketer of OxyContin!); Johnson & Johnson (which, among hundreds of other medicinal products, used to aggressively market the highly addictive, so-called childhood “ADHD” drug Concerta (identical to Ritalin), the anti-psychotic drugs Risperdal and Invega and is now marketing the monoclonal antibody drug Remicade, which costs upward of $19,000 a month (which equates to $228,000 per year).
CADCA also takes money from Mallinckrodt PLC which markets the highly addictive opioid drugs Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, Methylphenidate (generic Ritalin) and Dextroamphetamine sulfate.Other drug companies that subsidize CADCA include ENDO, Verde Technologies and Ortho-McNeil (the latter of which markets tramadol, a synthetic opioid).
- JUSTUS Health takes money from Janssen, which markets Fentanyl (!), Percodan [an older synthetic opioid] and two anti-psychotics, Haldol and Respirdal. Justus takes money from Johnson & Johnson (see above) as well as Pfizer, which is the biggest pharmaceutical company in America, and which markets the addictive SSRI so-called antidepressant Zoloft, the dependency-inducing and brain-damaging antipsychoticGeodon and the highly addictive benzodiazepine/tranquilizer Xanax.
- The MRHA (Minnesota Rural Health Association) has as its current president, Sue Abderholden, who is Minnesota’s long-term director of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) the notorious national organization that is heavily funded by PhRMA and every Big Pharma corporation in America that makes and markets psychiatric drugs, many of which are highly addictive and brain-altering. NAMI’s Big Pharma corporate sponsors over the years have included Alkermes, TEVA, AstraZeneca ($300,000.00 in 2009 alone) Schering Plough, Dainippon Sumitomo Pharma America, Inc, Vanda Pharmaceuticals, Wyeth, Lundbeck Inc, Otsuka America, Pfizer, Forest Laboratories, Eli Lilly. FOX Broadcasting, Magellan Health Services, Ortho-McNeil Janssen Pharma. and Sanofi-Aventis.
- NCL (National Consumers League) which recently promoted a pharmacy organization’s campaign called “Remember to Take Your Medication Month”.
- Lakeville Public Safety Foundation (which innocently accepted a $10,000 grant from PhARMA and the Addiction Policy Forum (to promote safe used-prescription drug disposal in the Lakeville, MN area)
I didn’t take the time to check for any conflicts of interest in the smallest sponsoring organizations that were listed in the ad. I believe that veteran’s groups, sheriff’s departments, realtors and the Grange have no ulterior motives like the others and are just altruistically interested in being part of the solution of a largely Big Pharma-induced prescription drug crisis.
It needs to be noted that the current chairman of the PhRMA board of directors is the CEO of Biogen. The chairman-elect is the CEO of Johnson & Johnson and the board treasurer is the CEO of Novartis (marketers ofRitalin, Clozaril and the Ritalin-me-too drug, Focalin (dexmethylphenidate).
The following information about Big Pharma was mostly obtained from the internet, including Wikipedia:
“Antipsychotic drugs are the top-selling class of pharmaceuticals in America, generating annual revenue of about $14.6 billion. Every major company selling the drugs – Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson – has either settled recent government case (under the False Claims Act) for hundreds of millions of dollars (or is currently under investigation for possible health care fraud). Following charges of illegal marketing, two of the settlements set records for the largest criminal fines ever imposed on corporations. One involved Eli Lilly’s antipsychotic Zyprexa and the other involved Pfizer’s Bextra (a Cox-2 inhibitor whose mechanism of action is similar to Merck’s notorious anti-inflammatory drug Vioxx and Pfizer’s Celebrex). In the Bextra case, the government also charged Pfizer with illegally marketing its antipsychotic, Geodon; Pfizer settled that part of the claim for $301 million, without admitting any wrongdoing.
“On 2 July 2012, GlaxoSmithKline pleaded guilty to criminal charges and agreed to a $3 billion settlement of the largest health-care fraud case in the U.S. and the largest payment by a drug company. The settlement is related to the company’s illegal promotion of prescription drugs, its failure to report safety data, bribing doctors, and promoting medicines for uses for which they were not licensed. The drugs involved were Paxil, Wellbutrin, Advair, Lamictal and Zofran for off-label, non-covered uses. Those and the drugs Imitrex, Lotronex, Flovent, and Valtrex were involved in kickback schemes.“
To conclude this week’s column, I attach one of my old Preventive Psychiatry E-Newsletters (which I published before my retirement and mainly emailed to my patients). PPEN # 18 concerned prescription drug-induced suicidality.
The article was written by Dr. Ann Blake Tracy, author of Prozac: Panacea or Pandora? – Our Serotonin Nightmare and the original research which she writes about was done by Dr Ari Khan and colleagues. The original papers were first published in 2001, but the important data was ignored by the FDA, the CDC, the NIH, the NIMH, the AMA, the APA, the AAFP, every busy psychiatrist and physician and every Big Pharma corporation that should have been paying attention (if the well-being of patients was really important, that is).
Obviously the corporate elites that decide what research gets proper attention had no interest in the truths mentioned below. The share prices of the manufacturers and marketers of the brain-altering prescription drugs investigated would have been badly impacted if Khan’s research had been given proper publicity. These guilty corporate elites are perpetually trying to escape the punishment that they so richly deserve for their part in America’s addiction and suicide epidemics. Tragically, they have had – and still have – the propaganda power to bamboozle anybody and everybody, especially the mainstream media, major party politicians, the media-addicted public and even physicians and nurses.
Read the following important information strongly linking Big Pharma’s psych drugs to suicide from back in 2002 and weep. Opioids were not examined back then because there was no Fentanyl, oo OsyContin and no Purdue Pharma.
Preventive Psychiatry E-Newsletter # 18
Astonishing 6,500+% Increase in Rates of Completed Suicides from BOTH SSRIs and Atypical Antipsychotics!!
By Dr. Ann Blake Tracy, Executive Director,
International Coalition for Drug Awareness – 9-8-2002
First we had the thalidomide tragedy, then the fen-phen fiasco, then LSD and PCP as prescription drugs, yet none of them begins to compare with the scandal below. Never in the history of the FDA do I recall something as tragic or terrible or as shocking or as criminal as is the following revelation! “Mass murder by prescription” is the only expression that fits.
Blockbuster Study – 68 Times Greater Suicide Risk with Serotonergic Meds!
New research presented at a recent NIH (National Institute of Health) sponsored meeting demonstrates a 68 times greater risk of suicide with the new serotonergic antidepressants (SSRIs) and (the so-called “atypical”)antipsychotics than if a patient never took anything.
These shocking figures of increased suicide risk show that a patient’s chances of suicide jump from 11 out of 100,000 to as much as 718 out of 100,000 if one is taking one of these new SSRI antidepressants (Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Luvox, Celexa) – medications touted to alleviate depressive symptoms and rid one of suicidal tendencies. And the risk is even higher for the new antipsychotics (Zyprexa, Risperdal, Seroquel) – 752 out of 100,000!
Our gratitude for alerting us to this new research goes to Vera Hassner Sharav with the Alliance for Human Research Protection (AHRP). (www.researchprotection.org)
Dr. Arif Khan presented his research at a recent meeting sponsored by the NIMH (National Institute of Mental Health). This was a meeting of the New Clinical Drug Evaluation Unit. The essence of the research was an analysis of the data on the suicide rates for patients who participated in the clinical trials for these new drugs – over 71,604 people were involved. These were the clinical trials where the drugs were tested on the public to see if they were “safe and effective.” This clinical data is then presented to the FDA for approval for marketing of the new compounds.
In his presentation Dr. Khan made note of what we learned long ago when this information was revealed through court documents in SSRI wrongful death cases – that is, that “actively suicidal” patients are excluded from the clinical trials on the SSRI antidepressants. What he found shocking about this is that despite the fact that actively suicidal patients were excluded from these clinical trials, the suicide rate among those taking these medications ABSOLUTELY SKYROCKETED from 11 out of 100,000 to 718 out of 100,000!! (718/11 = 6500% increase in relative risk.)
What is really frightening at this point is the realization that millions of patients are going into withdrawal from these drugs. The rapid or abrupt withdrawal from these antidepressants can produce suicide, mania, seizures, psychotic breaks, etc. at an even greater rate than while on the drugs. Extreme caution MUST be taken.
Here are the suicide rates (for the 5 classes of prescription psychiatric drugs that were analyzed by Khan). Keep in mind as you read through these that the rate of 11 out of 100,000 persons per year is the suicide rate for the population at large.
1) 752 suicides per 100,000 for those treated with atypical antipsychotics–risperidone (Risperdal), olanzapine (Zyprexa), and quetiapine (Seroquel); (752/11 = 6800% relative risk increase).
2) 718 per 100, 000 for those treated with the SSRIs – Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Luvox, Celexa); (718/11 = 6500% relative risk increase) (See the American Journal of Psychiatry article for the analysis of suicidality and antidepressant drugs at: Khan A, Khan S, Kolts R, Brown WA. “Suicide rates in clinical trials of SSRIs, other antidepressants, and placebo: analysis of FDA reports,” Am J Psychiatry 2003;160: 790-2.)
3) 425 per 100,000 for those treated for “social anxiety disorder” with nefazodone (Serzone), mirtazapine (Remeron), and bupropion (Wellbutrin/Zyban); (425/11 = 3800% relative risk increase).
4) 136 per 100,000 for those treated for panic disorder–with benzodiazepine alprazolam (Xanax); (136/11 = 1200% relative risk increase).
5) 105 per 100, 000 persons for those treated for obsessive-compulsive disorder with anticonvulsant valproate (Depakote). (105/11 = 950% relative risk increase).
These figures clearly speak for themselves. A massive number of wrongful death suits will obviously follow, but at least loved ones will know why they have lost those who meant so much to them via such tragic circumstances.
Keep in mind as you read through this data that the new “atypical” anti-psychotics listed here are basically a combination of the older anti-psychotics and the SSRIs. They too have a strong effect upon serotonin levels, (actually blocking serotonin receptor sites as well as dopamine receptor sites – Ed note).
Also the most likely reason researchers saw an even higher rate of suicide in placebo cases with the anti-psychotics is that these patients were likely being abruptly discontinued from their older anti-psychotics for the clinical trials. This abrupt withdrawal can cause suicidal depression.
Dr. Ann Blake Tracy, Executive Director, International Coalition for Drug Awareness
www.drugawareness.org and author of Prozac: Panacea or Pandora? – Our Serotonin Nightmare (800-280-0730)
No Credible Evidence for Anti-Suicidal Effect from Psychotropic Drugs
Carl Sherman, Contributing Writer to Clinical Psychiatry News Online
BOCA RATON, FLA. – Psychotropic therapy did not appear to have a marked impact on suicide risk, examination of a large database indicated-in fact, no class of medication had much more or less effect than placebo, Dr. Arif Khan said at a meeting of the New Clinical Drug Evaluation Unit sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health.
Overall, attempted and completed suicides among patients with diverse psychiatric conditions are substantially more frequent than had been expected, the analysis suggested.
“Given that suicide is such a complex behavior … we have to ask if medication is the only way to [approach] it,” said Dr. Khan of Northwest Clinical Research Center, Bellevue, Wash.
The conventional response to suicidality in psychiatry is pharmacotherapy. The assumption that this will be beneficial “is never challenged much,” Dr. Khan said, and raises ethical questions about clinical trials, such as whether patients assigned to placebo may be exposed to increased mortality risk. Some observers, on the other hand, have suggested that psychotropics may themselves increase the risk of suicide.
In fact, the only biologic treatments for which there are many data on this score are ECT and lithium, which have been shown to reduce suicidality. More limited data support a similar effect for clozapine.
Dr. Khan reported an analysis of clinical trial data for drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration between 1985 and 2000. This included suicide and attempted suicide rates for more than 71,604 patients treated with the atypical antipsychotics risperidone (Risperdal), olanzapine (Zyprexa), and quetiapine (Seroquel); all the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Luvox, Celexa; nefazodone (Serzone), mirtazapine (Remeron), and bupropion (Wellbutrin/Zyban); the benzodiazepine alprazolam (Xanax; and the anticonvulsant valproate (Depakote).
One striking finding was the elevated rate of completed suicides for patients during these trials. Compared with the rate of 11/100,000 persons per year for the population at large, the rates of completed suicide were 752/100,000 persons per year for those in anti-psychotic trials; 718 in antidepressant trials; 425 in trials of medication for social anxiety disorder; 136 for panic disorder; and 105 for obsessive-compulsive disorder.
This was particularly surprising in light of the attempt, in most clinical trials, to exclude patients who are actively suicidal, Dr. Khan said.
Figures on attempted suicide found similarly increased risk. The figures implied that 5% of patients who enroll in anti-psychotic trials will attempt suicide in the following year; 3.7% of those in antidepressant trials will make an attempt; and 1.2% of those in trials of medication for anxiety disorders will attempt suicide.
Suicide rates were higher, in the trials taken as a whole, for patients who were assigned to placebo than to the investigational drug (1,750/100,000 persons per year vs. 710/100,000 persons per year). But because participants were exposed to placebo for far less time than to the drugs (a mean of 33 days vs. 148 days), this could not be assumed to indicate an anti-suicidal effect of medication, he said. (The most likely reason researchers saw an even higher rate of suicide in placebo with the anti-psychotics is that these patients were likely being abruptly discontinued from their older anti-psychotics for the clinical trials. This abrupt withdrawal can cause suicidal depression. – Ann Blake Tracy)
In the case of trials for depression and anxiety disorders, suicide rates were in fact higher among those who received the investigational drug than placebo, Dr. Khan said.
The high rates of suicide among patients studied might suggest an “iceberg effect” in the general population. The numbers that come to light under the close scrutiny of the clinical trial situation indicate the extent to which attempted and completed suicides are concealed or mislabeled in the community, Dr. Khan speculated.
Dr Gary G. Kohls is a retired family physician from Duluth, MN, USA. Since his retirement from his holistic mental health practice he has been writing his weekly Duty to Warn column for the Duluth Reader, northeast Minnesota’s alternative newsweekly magazine. His columns, which are re-published around the world, deal with the dangers of American fascism, corporatism, militarism, racism, malnutrition, Big Pharma’s over-drugging and Big Vaccine’s over-vaccination agendas, as well as other movements that threaten human health, the environment, democracy, civility and the sustainability of all life on earth. Many of his columns have been archived at a number of websites, including http://duluthreader.com/search?search_term=Duty+to+Warn&p=2; http://www.globalresearch.ca/author/gary-g-kohls; http://freepress.org/geographic-scope/national; andhttps://www.transcend.org/tms/search/?q=gary+kohls+articles