28 February 2009

GENERATION RX Finds Massive Support Through Social Media Websites Like Facebook, Twitter


Generation Rx is a new documentary film by international award winning filmmaker, Kevin P. Miller. The film focuses on significant ethical conflicts and the high mental and physical health risks associated with a widespread propensity to prescribe psychiatric drugs for children.

Significant exposure of the film's two trailers on social content web sites like Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and Google Video has helped "Generation Rx" realize an increasingly popular position among students, teachers, counselors and a wide range of consumer and special interest groups. YouTube quickly generated nearly 50,000 viewings of the film’s trailer after its online release and Google Video gives it a “5 Star” rating.

Perhaps it is no wonder why the film is becoming increasingly popular through online venues. It addresses many of the alarming issues surrounding the growing use of ADHD drugs, antidepressants, and anti-psychotic medications among children and teenagers worldwide. Issues that are being covered more and more in the mainstream press and their online outlets.

The film documents how an entire era of children has been caught in the middle of an unprecedented change in Western culture: that of drugging children with psychiatric medications earlier and more often than ever before.

"For decades, scores of doctors, government officials, journalists, and others have extolled the benefits of psychiatric medicines for children," said Miller, the film's writer, producer and director. "Generation RX unveils 'the rest of the story' and explains how this era of unprecedented change in Western culture really occurred -- and what price has been paid by society."

By employing the expertise of internationally respected professionals from the fields of medicine, ethics, journalism, and academia, Kevin P. Miller investigates whether collusion between drug companies and their regulatory watchdogs at the FDA exists. He also focuses on the powerful stories of real families who followed the advice of their doctors -- and faced devastating consequences for doing so.

Ultimately, Miller says, "Generation RX may help parents decide whether the perceived benefits of these medications outweigh the serious risks to children."

Generation Rx is getting some interesting support from other sectors as well. Critics and Hollywood insiders have already begun hailing "Generation RX" as one of the best documentaries of 2008. Paul Haggis, the back-to-back Academy Award® winning Writer/Director said, "Generation RX is a powerful and often chilling eye-opener. Weeks after viewing, the stories continue to haunt me."

Mike Adams, publisher of NewsTarget and Natural News, says the film "delivers a jaw-dropping emotional ride," and "weaves a terrifying tale of criminal conspiracy. It is one of the best films of 2008."

Jason Buchanan of the "All Movie Guide" stated, "Generation RX is a film that every parent should see."

"Generation RX" was released by Common Radius Films, an Independent media company based in Vancouver, British Columbia.

"Generation RX" is available through the film's website at www.GenerationRxFilm.com. The film’s two trailers are available on YouTube, Facebook, Google Video and other community and social content web sites using key words “Generation Rx.”

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Rudi C. Loehwing is a Los Angeles-based broadcast journalist and the founder of the World Institution of Natural Health Sciences www.winhs.org

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22 February 2009

PRESCRIPTION FOR TROUBLE


By CHRIS WILLIAMS
Detroit Source Staff Writer

More than a decade ago, drugs such as Paxil, Zoloft and Prozac were known only to a handful of patients. Today, the medications are household names, prescribed to millions of people across the country, including teenagers and children.

In 1993, documentarian Kevin P. Miller came across a series of videotaped testimonies involving parents who were suing the Food and Drug Administration for what they claimed were harmful side effects caused by the medications.

Over the years, Miller accessed nearly 400 pages of transcripts from the proceedings and amassed material he said proves the FDA has approved the medications, even though they are aware the medications have harmful side effects that can cause aggression, depression and even suicide in younger patients.

“It planted a seed in me and I knew I wanted to explore it as a film,” said Miller, the director of “Let Truth Be the Bias” and “The Promised Land.” “I really wanted to explore these things further and let people know what the issues are.”

The result was “Generation RX,” a documentary that debuted in 2008 and will play at the AMC Forum 30 in Sterling Heights on Feb. 23. The film employs the expertise of journalists, academic professionals and medical doctors to discuss the collusion between drug companies and the FDA, and the effect on families whose children have been affected by the use of prescription medication.

“What we hope to do is present a common-sense path toward questions we really should be asking ourselves,” said Miller. “Are we experimenting on our kids with these massive uses of prescription drugs and antidepressants?”

In the film, Miller talks to a handful of experts about the dangers of prescription drugs, and shares faxes and other evidence he said represent collaboration between the FDA and drug companies to get medicine approved even though harmful side effects were known to exist. One side that refused to participate, however, were officials at the FDA.

“I didn’t have a chance to talk to the people who were involved in the trials in 1991 and 1993 because it was so long ago that it was nearly impossible to locate them. And the sad reality is that the FDA doesn’t talk to the press,” he said. “They only talk to the media when they have an agenda ... It saddens me, really. There’s no reason for it. I believe in medical freedom of choice. If you share all the scientific information that’s available to consumers, good or bad, they should be able to make their own decisions.”

Miller said that, despite the FDA’s repeated assurances there is no cause for concern, there have been hundreds of cases about teenagers who were prescribed medication who experienced depression, including suicidal tendencies. He said it’s shocking that young children are being prescribed this medication and that they are not being warned of the effects of withdrawal from antidepressants; most suicides occur within three weeks of stopping the medication.

“It’s bad enough when it happens in adults, but when you’re prescribing antidepressants to an 11-year-old girl and she hangs herself in the garage, it’s unthinkable,” he said. “My vision of an 11-year-old girl does not include her hanging herself. And yet, that’s what is happening.”

The film was finished in 2008 and has begun being sold from Miller’s Web site as well as being entered in film festivals across the world. Miller said the reaction has been strongly positive, including raves from “Crash” director Paul Haggis.

“We’ve gotten some great reviews and we’ve been accepted into several festivals,” he said. “I get letters every day from people who say they’re so thankful for this film because it helps them know that they’re not alone. It’s really heartening hearing that.”

“Generation RX” will screen Feb. 23 at the AMC Forum 30 in Sterling Heights at 7:30 p.m. with producer and director Kevin Miller in attendance. The event is sponsored by Maximized Living Doctors. Tickets are available for $5. For more information, call 978-8088 or visit www.generationrxfilm.com

Click here to read story:
http://www.sourcenewspapers.com/stories/022209/loc_story4001.shtml

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14 February 2009

YUAN FEN


DON’T TELL MY MOM I SAID THIS, but someone once told me — in the strictest of confidence — that my mother “fell in love every month” until she met and married my Dad. Having waited until I was “mature enough” to get married — only to get divorced a few years later — I guess I can understand how even my Mom could have enjoyed years of fickle feelings before having her heart set ablaze by my Dad. It seems like human nature, especially in the context of relationships in the 21st century.

Of course, once Mom made a decision, that was that. There would be no looking back. Many decades later, Mom and Dad remained true to their vows. . .and very much in love.

Many of our Moms and Dads — members of “the greatest generation” — have enjoyed similar longevity in matrimony. Today, however, with marriages lasting between 6-7 years on average, one must ask if the “Me Generation” is truly able to keep a commitment . . .about anything.

This uneasy, chronic dissatisfaction is all around us. I was having dinner with a very successful, affluent, female medical doctor a few years ago when the conversation shifted to relationships. “What is it with men?” she asked. “And why is it that you are all unwilling to get married?” She outlined her case against men very firmly, beginning with, “Men don’t want companionship, they want control,” before adding, “men won’t marry a powerful woman with a great career…especially if they make less money than a woman.”

“Is it REALLY that, Doctor?” I recall asking. “Is it that men are afraid of powerful women? Or is it that we live in this ‘Me’ centered universe, devoid of loyalty and unconditional love? Could it be that we live in an age where few have the patience, the tolerance, or capacity to forgive — like children forgive their parents on a weekly basis — and that we are living our lives as if life is always greener on the other side of the mountain?”

She seemed perplexed, and we went on like that for hours. Maybe something resonated with her, however, as six months later she reported back that she had indeed found her man, and was engaged to be married.

Thus, is there anything more beautiful — or maddening — than love? We see it portrayed in movies, television, books and magazines all of the time, of course, but while they do justice to the word in an imaginary, Hollywood-kind-of-a-way, do we really know what the reality of love is?

I wonder.

Yeah, I have cried every single time I hear Renee Zellweger say the line “You had me at ‘Hello” in the movie Jerry Maguire. EVERY SINGLE TIME it’s spoken. I think it touches a raw nerve of unfulfilled love within me, and allows a deep and abiding sadness to surface. Is it only because of ‘Hollywood magic’ that this takes place? Am I being manipulated by the cold orchestrated efforts of the media machine to go see the next Cameron Crowe movie? Well, perhaps.

Yet when this sadness occurs, it highlights that those feelings within me — no matter how glorified or artificial they may appear in Hollywood — do indeed exist. Is it because Renee Zellweger’s character is so willing to accept Jerry Maguire, a man full of vanity and failures and flaws, at his lowest ebb?

If we are looking for love at all, that is what keeps most of us believing that there is one perfect woman/man out there in the Universe. It is the unconditional, the solid-as-a-rock notion that “I will stand beside you always…even when you are broken…” that keeps us coming back for more.

The Chinese have a concept called “Yuan Fen,” for which no direct translation exists in the English language. It is a visual, contextual combination of destiny, tried-and-true effort and, well, luck. Yuan Fen, like so many things Chinese, is a karmic phrase meant to illustrate the importance of fate and diligence in our lives. For a relationship to work, one needs both “yuan,” the fateful, pre-destined meeting of a man and a woman that creates the possibility of lasting love — and the “fen,” or the action of sharing and WORKING toward fulfilling that destiny together.

It is a lovely concept, at least to me. Yuan Fen acknowledges the need for shared energy and commitment to make “the dream come true.” There can be no “fen” without “yuan.” Without hard work and a little luck, there can also be no yuan fen. In my opinion, this is the part of the equation which alienates those of us in Western culture. . .because let’s face it, if things get tough in relationships, most of us cut-and-run.

Our lack of commitment — our unwillingness to stand shoulder to shoulder during difficult times — is probably the simplest reflection of life in the material age, and a society built on instant gratification.

IT IS NOW NEARLY 15 YEARS since my first-and-only wife divorced. We definitely did not experience ‘yuan fen,’ but I love and admire her just the same.

Nonetheless, today on Valentine’s Day, I still believe in the idea that fate and destiny and hard-work are delivering my yuan fen to me as we speak. It is the “eternal optimist” in me. Some of you may think that my beliefs make me a naïve idiot. Well. . .whatever. I still believe that love will complete the circle, one way or another.

My prayer is that you find your “yuan fen” as well. . .and that you will be willing to work for your blessings, like so many in “the greatest generation” did before us.

Happy Valentine’s Day. . .and peace to you all.

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13 February 2009

Codex misinformation creates public confusion


RELEASED BY THE ALLIANCE FOR NATURAL HEALTH
There is presently a lot of information circulating on the internet about Codex [2]—and its potential imminent impact on the banning of food (dietary) supplements including vitamins, minerals and herbs — that is inaccurate.

The misinformation is feeding people’s fears and is preventing them, especially in Europe, from using what democratic powers still remain to influence legal processes that will, in the short-term, have a far bigger impact on their access to natural health products. This is particularly the case for the nearly 500 million people living in the 27 Member States of Europe, where it is European Directives and Regulations that present the main risk to their continued access to beneficial natural health products.

Much of the misinformation appears to stem from the US-based Natural Solutions Foundation (NSF), and in particular, a youtube-released video called Nutricide featuring NSF's medical director, Dr Rima Laibow.

For two different assessments of the relevance of Codex to natural health—which should go a long way towards helping you to separate the facts from the myths—please refer to the two articles referenced below:

ANH’s newly revised Codex campaign page [1] (that now also deals directly with the issue of Codex misinformation)
An article, ‘Codex and Health Freedom—Beware of the ‘Instant Experts [3]’ on the Dr Rath Foundation website.

WILL CODEX BAN FOOD SUPPLEMENTS BEGINNING DECEMBER 31, 2009?

One of the rumours that abounds suggests that Codex will ban a wide variety of food supplements as of 31 December 2009. This is wrong. This date refers to the end of the transition phase of the European Food Supplements Directive [4] which brings in a ban after this date of any vitamin or mineral food supplement that has yet to be approved on the Directive's positive list (Annex II).

This means that many food supplements containing vitamins and minerals that have not been approved as safe and bioavailable by the European Food Safety Authority [5] will indeed be banned from 1 January 2010. But it is not Codex that is causing these bans—it is the European Directive. The same European Directive will also likely impose restrictions on maximum dosages on vitamins and minerals in 2010—and this is something that the ANH, together with a number of other organisations, such as the Irish Association of Health Stores [6], are working very hard to counter [7]. But again, these restrictions on dosages are not the result of Codex, but are the effects of the EU Directive.

In fact, it is the mechanism by which restrictions are occurring in Europe that are forming the basis for the Codex Guideline on Vitamin and Mineral Food Supplements [8]—which is just one of some 300 guidelines and standards to be produced by the inter-governmental Codex Alimentarius Commission [2].

At present, the US-based National Health Federation [9] is the only health freedom organisation to have 'observer status' at Codex meetings. While the NHF has can potentially influence decisions in Codex meetings, as a non-governmental organisation, it has no voting rights.

UK Petition on Codex at No 10 Downing Street

Another misinformed, but undoubtedly well-meaning, action is the petition to the UK government on Codex at No 10 Downing Street, London. You can find this petition at: http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/Vitamins/#detail [10].

This petition indicates that Codex will cause herbal/vitamin/mineral food supplements to become ‘prescription only’. This is not the case, as Codex Alimentarius deals with all categories of food and has already ratified (in 2005) the text of an international guideline on vitamin and mineral food supplements, which is expected to be finalised—complete with maximum guideline dosages—in around 2012 or 2013. By definition, products compliant with these guidelines will be safeguarded as a category of food (i.e., food supplements) and therefore will not be categorised as medicines.

Of course the petition is only open to British citizens (yet it’s being pushed as far afield as New Zealand) and the more urgent issue is the much more imminent restrictions in Europe being imposed by provisions of European Directives and Regulations that then have a major bearing on Codex.

The relationship between Codex and EU laws on natural health

In many ways, it is more correct to see Codex (with respect to its limited application to natural health issues) as the primary mechanism that allows restrictive European laws to be exported into Codex. From there it then forms an international guideline for the rest of the world. It's important then to appreciate that these guidelines cannot directly limit the availability of products—it's only when they are then implemented into national or regional laws that restrictions occur.

Codex member countries, of which there are over 170, are strongly encouraged to adopt Codex guidelines and standards, not just on natural health issues but across all other parts of the food chain, into their national or regional laws. And to understand more about the consequences of not implementing Codex guidelines and standards, please see both the ANH's Codex campaign [1] and its Say No to GM campaign [11]. Here you'll find examples of how the World Trade Organization [12] imposes trade sanctions, that have the capacity to cripple any country other than a super power.

Using your democratic right effectively

For people living in Europe, this is why there is little point in only making your concerns known to your national member of parliament (elected representative). The laws that will impact you are emerging from Brussels, so it is the European Commission, along with your own government (elected representatives and relevant government ministries) and, and then, very importantly, your Member of the European Parliament (MEP) that are so important to lobby.

Europeans who don’t already know who their MEP is, can find him or her at the following link: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/members.do [13].

Get involved in the ANH campaign

We would also urge you to look at the ANH Get Involved [14] page.

We realise that this is a difficult and complicated issue and we are very committed to trying to help people find their way through the maze. Please explore our website and think about what ways you can work with us to help ensure that our fundamental right to natural health is not just maintained during our lifetimes, but also for future generations.

Thank you.

The ANH Core Team.



Source URL: http://www.anhcampaign.org/news/codex-misinformation-creates-public-confusion
Links:
[1] http://www.anhcampaign.org/campaigns/codex
[2] http://www.codexalimentarius.net
[3] http://www4.dr-rath-foundation.org/THE_FOUNDATION/Events/codex-beware.htm
[4] http://www.anhcampaign.org/files/FSD_final-OJEC-2002.pdf
[5] http://www.efsa.europa.eu/EF
[6] http://www.irishhealthstores.com/
[7] http://www.anhcampaign.org/news/anh-press-release-ray-of-sunlight-from-anhirish-efforts-in-brussels
[8] http://www.codexalimentarius.net/download/report/644/al28_41e.pdf
[9] http://www.thenhf.com/
[10] http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/Vitamins/#detail
[11] http://www.anhcampaign.org/campaigns/say-no-to-gm
[12] http://www.wto.org/
[13] http://www.europarl.europa.eu/members.do
[14] http://www.anhcampaign.org/get-involved

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09 February 2009

REMEMBERING NICK


MANY OF YOU FELT MOVED to write after reading my Christmas Day blog called NATIVITY AND TRAGEDY. Below is an open letter from the family of Nick Rauser, the fine and beloved youn man who died in a car crash a few days before the holiday. While I will be writing about Nick when I return, I thought it appropriate to share this lovely letter.

Nick would have been 16 today. Please remember this lovely family in your prayers, and tell your children you love them.


NICHOLAS CHARLES RAUSER
FEBRUARY 9, 1993

We would like to sincerely thank you for all of the love and support you have shown for Nick and us during this very difficult time. We truly cannot tell you how much this means to us.

We have heard many people describe Nick, saying he loved this, or loved that. When you think of Nick, please remember this. . .Nick loved. He showed so many people this with just a simple smile and a few kind words.

Nick made a profound impact on so many of our lives. His goal was simply to make everyone around him happy. Please help us honor the fine young man we all loved by lifting the people we encounter in our lives with kindness and gentle words.

Everyone deserves to be loved. Nick knew this and lived by it. Help us show Nicholas that he did make a difference.

Let Nick’s love live on.

Love,
Nick’s Family

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08 February 2009

PRAYER IN PASSING — THE GENERATION RX SOUNDTRACK

Any of you who have seen Generation RX know that Anoushka Shankar's work graces the soundtrack of the film. The daughter of the famed Ravi Shankar granted a license to my film GENERATION RX once we submitted my script and an explanation of why I felt her music was so critical to the film.

Here is a great interview with Ms. Shankar, beginning with "Prayer in Passing," the piece I use in the powerful conclusion of GENERATION RX.

06 February 2009

EVELYN PRINGLE: SSRI PUSHERS UNDER FIRE


By Evelyn Pringle

Throughout the 1990's, most doctors who attended conferences, medical seminars and other events were not aware that the so-called "key opinion leaders" encouraging them to prescribe the new generation of antidepressants for everything under the sun, including to children as young as infants, were nothing more than highly paid drug pushers for Big Pharma.

For years, the research that showed SSRI antidepressants (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) were dangerous and practically useless was kept hidden, while the studies published and presented to potential prescribers painted a glowing picture of success. These days, a person would be hard pressed to find someone who does not have a family member or friend labeled mentally ill and taking drugs like Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Lexapro and Celexa, or their chemical cousins Effexor, Cymbalta and Wellbutrin.

About once a year, a new round of headlines about all the money made by the SSRI pushers comes and goes; but nothing really ever seemed to stick, until now.

The Senate Finance Committee, with the ranking Republican, Senator Charles Grassley, leading the charge, is investigating GlaxoSmithKline regarding new revelations in a report filed in litigation showing that the company manipulated the numbers on adverse events related to suicidality in clinical trials back in 1989, to make it appear that Paxil did not increase the risk of patients experiencing suicidal behavior when, in fact, trial subjects on Paxil were eight times more likely to attempt or commit suicide than patients taking placebos.

Quite a few of the top pushers are also under investigation by the Committee due to revelations that millions of dollars has changed hands between the SSRI makers and the academics who signed off on some of the most fraudulently reported research in the history of modern medicine. A full list of names is easy to compile by scanning the literature on SSRI studies conducted on children. The same names appear repeatedly.

In alphabetical order, the Fortune 500 team of pushers, at a minimum, includes Drs Joseph Biederman, David Brent, Jeffrey Bridge, Daniel Casey, David Dunner, Graham Emslie, Daniel Geller, Robert Gibbons, Frederick Goodwin, Martin Keller, Andrew Leon, John Mann, John March, Charles Nemeroff, John Rush, Neal Ryan, David Shaffer, and Karen Wagner.

TRUTH BURIED IN LITIGATION GRAVEYARD

On February 6, 2007, the world famous historian on psycho-pharmacology, Dr David Healy, published a commentary entitled, "Why you should never trust new wonder drugs," in the UK's Daily Mail stating:

"Ten years ago, I sat faced with boxes and boxes that contained a dirty secret. Inside were thousands of confidential internal company documents about Prozac."

"The secret they revealed was that public statements about the safety of the drug were a lie; that the company knew Prozac was responsible for a raised risk of suicide and was only slightly more effective than a placebo."

Several years later, Dr Healy recounts, he was faced with the secrets of Paxil. "No one outside the two companies, and few within them," he writes, "knew what those boxes contained; I saw them because I was an expert witness in a court case."

"Documents prised out of companies by American court cases," he says, "have become the main way we have of discovering the truth about some of our best-selling drugs."

"The scientific literature, the very place doctors would look for a warning," he writes, "contained barely a hint of problems.”

"What's more, no one seems likely ever to have to answer for what appears to be fraud," he points out.

"In other organizations when evidence of disregard for public safety emerges, heads roll," Dr Healy said. "But there have been no resignations following these drug disasters - barely a flicker of embarrassment."

The UK's medicines “watchdog,” the British Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, he reports, "has never taken any action against the academics who make fraudulent claims in ghostwritten articles, nor doctors working for the companies who repeat such claims, even when they have been shown to be untrue."

"And no one in Britain," he points out, "has any means of finding out why their husband or child might have died."

Seven years before Dr Healy wrote this commentary, in a Prozac case for which he served as an expert witness, the plaintiff's legal team learned that Eli Lilly had withheld evidence in a jury trial when the May 7, 2007 Boston Globe reported that Lilly had agreed to pay $20 million for the rights to a patent on a new version of Prozac that would reduce "akathisia," the very side effect long believed to increase the risk of suicidal behavior, three months before the trial began.

While testifying under oath, Lilly researcher, Gary Tollefson, had told the jury, "there is absolutely no medically sound evidence of an association between any antidepressant medicine, including Prozac, and the induction of suicidal ideation or violence."

When in fact, the wording in the patent for the new formula stated "fluoxetine (Prozac) produces a state of inner restlessness (akathisia), which is one of its more significant side effects," and the "adverse effects which are decreased by administering the R(-) isomer of fluoxetine include but are not limited to headaches, nervousness, anxiety, insomnia, inner restlessness (akathisia), suicidal thoughts and self mutilation."

Patients who lived to talk about a failed suicide attempt have described the SSRI-induced akathisia, as being so unbearable that their only option for relief seemed to be death.

AMERICA'S MOST WANTED

Dr Daniel Casey was a major player in the SSRI drug-push and useful in many ways to the companies promoting the drugs. He was the chairman of the very first FDA advisory committee that met in 1991, to decide whether a warning about the increased risk of suicide should be added to the label of Prozac, the first SSRI approved in the US, and voted it down. He was also the chairman of the advisory panel that voted to approve Zoloft for Pfizer later that same year.

Bob Sorenson was a sales representative for Pfizer for 21 years. He moved to Oregon shortly before Zoloft was approved. During the first week at his new location, Pfizer’s chief of marketing at the time told him he needed to start calling on a doctor by the name of Dr Daniel Casey at the V.A. in Portland because he was very important to the company.

Dr Casey worked at the V.A., but never treated patients for depression, Mr Sorenson says. "His expertise [was] psychotropic drugs and experimentation."

The chief of marketing said he was interested in finding out what Dr Casey thought of the company's new drug, Zoloft. The company tried to call on him that day, but Dr Casey was not in. Mr Sorenson called on him later in the week and learned that Dr Casey was the lead investigator on Zoloft, which was up for approval by the FDA advisory committee Dr Casey chaired.

"He said I shouldn't be there, but I did ask how it looks for the drug and he said very well," Mr Sorenson recalls.

Dr Casey ended up making a ton of money from Zoloft. "He told me personally one time that he made enough from Pfizer in one year to purchase two cars," Mr Sorenson reports.

Dr Casey became a member of Pfizer's Advisory Board for Zoloft, which meant "all expense paid trips," including honorariums, to anywhere Pfizer wanted him to advise, at any location in the world, Mr Sorenson explains.

"Many speakers were sought out that would only give lectures that put Zoloft in a positive light," he notes, "there was no room for a balanced lecture."

"Dr Casey later became one of the most sought after speakers for the Pfizer promotion of Zoloft," he says, "the reps loved him because of his positioning of Zoloft."

Mr Sorenson was often told to take information to speakers, "including Dr Casey, to have them add the information to their lectures," he reports. "I look back at it now and see how wrong it was," he states.

"As far as the suicide issue," Mr Sorenson says, "the standard company line was that parents and doctors should be monitoring these kids because after being on Zoloft they finally feel good enough that they can carry out their suicide tendencies."

"Another tactic was to blame Paxil and Effexor," he recalls, "it was those drugs that caused suicidal tendencies, not Zoloft."

"Finally," he notes, "the statement was made that if they didn't take Zoloft, they probably would have committed suicide anyway."

Sales reps would practice and rehearse these statements at sales meetings to be able to respond to concerns or objections raised by Doctors about Zoloft’s relationship to suicidality, he says. "There would be contests as to who could detail the drug the best with objections," he recalls.

Pfizer was able to get rid of employees and still keep them quiet, he says, by offering severance packages of up to a year's salary, while forcing them to sign a confidentiality agreement, in which they promised not to sue, or speak adversely about Pfizer, as part of the deal.

Many people were so surprised at being terminated that they felt forced to sign because Pfizer kept the pressure on, he explains. They feared they wouldn’t find another job before financial problems set in, but regretted signing the agreement later, he says.

Mr Sorenson did not sign an agreement when he was fired. His young son had developed cancer, but Pfizer expected him to continue to attend out-of-town meetings and refused to believe that his son was terminally ill, he recalls. After 20 years with the company, Mr Sorenson was let go when he insisted that he needed to remain near his dying son and distraught wife. The Sorenson's son passed away on April 1, 2005.

GOING RATE FOR LEGAL DRUG PUSHERS

SEC filings for Cypress Bioscience provide a good source for estimating how much money legal drug pushers can make each year, from each company, because the names of several appear in these filings. According to its website, “Cypress Bioscience is committed to developing and commercializing pharmaceutical products and personalized medicine laboratory services that allow physicians to serve unmet medical needs.”

Drs Martin Keller and Charles Nemeroff, two of the most prolific depression-mongers, have served on the company’s board of directors, on its scientific advisory board and as consultants for this company. Under their 2004 Consulting Agreements, Cypress was required to pay them $50,000 per year for services rendered up to and including “two days per fiscal quarter.” In addition, the company could request additional services at a rate of $5,000 per day.

During 2003, Dr Nemeroff was paid $19,000 for additional services under his agreement, and Dr Keller was paid an extra $18,000. But they were only making $2,000 per day that year. As members of the Psychopharmacology Advisory Board, Dr Nemeroff earned $19,000 and Dr Keller $18,000 in 2003.

For their service as directors of the company in 2002, they each received $24,000. They were also offered stock options regularly. Cypress is only company. A bio on Dr Keller in a July 25, 2002 agenda for an annual meeting states that he is also a consultant to, "Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, Forest Laboratories, Janssen, Merck, Inc, Organon, Otsuka Pharmacia/Upjohn, Pharmastar, Pfizer, Inc. and Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories."

It also shows he serves on the scientific advisory boards of, "Bristol-Myers Squibb, Cephalon, Cyberonics, Inc., Eli Lilly, Forest Laboratories, Merck, Inc, Mitsubishi, Organon, Pfizer, Sepracor, Scirex, SmithKline Beecham, Somerse, Vela Pharmaceuticals and Wyeth-Ayerst."

Dr David Dunner and a few more of the usual suspects appear in the Cypress SEC filings as advisory board members as well.

Dr Nemeroff's role in the prostitution of research is legendary. In April 2004, Shannon Brownlee, author of, "Overtreated," wrote an article in the Washington Monthly entitled, "Doctors Without Borders," after he was caught failing to disclose his financial ties to the companies whose treatments he promoted in a paper in Nature Neuroscience, and noted:

"With financial ties to nearly two dozen drug and biotech companies, Dr. Charles B. Nemeroff may hold some sort of record among academic clinicians for the most conflicts of interest.

"A psychiatrist, a prominent researcher, and chairman of the department of psychiatry and behavioral science at Emory University in Atlanta, Nemeroff receives funding for his academic research from Eli Lilly, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Wyeth-Ayerst--indeed from virtually every pharmaceutical house that manufactures a drug to treat mental illness.

"He also serves as a consultant to drug and biotech companies, owns their stocks, and is a member of several speakers' bureaus, delivering talks--for a fee--to other physicians on behalf of the companies' products."

Dr Nemeroff stood to "reap as much as $1 million in stock" from just one company that manufactured one of the products in his Nature Neuroscience paper, she noted.

"But the drug industry's most powerful means of boosting the bottom line is funding research," Ms Brownlee writes, "which allows companies to control, or at least influence, a great deal of what gets published in the medical journals, effectively turning supposedly objective science into a marketing tool."

She notes how companies are able to routinely delay or prevent the publication of data and specifically how the majority of studies which found antidepressants to be no better than placebos, "never saw print in medical journals."

In conclusion, she states, "I'm struck more than anything by the apparent lack of shame among clinicians when it comes to this issue."

Two years later, on July 19, 2006, the Wall Street Journal reported that the journal, Neuropsychopharmacology, published by the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP), planned to publish a correction of a favorable review of a new depression treatment device because it failed to list the ties of the eight academic authors to the device maker, Cyberonics, including lead author Dr Nemeroff, the editor of Neuropsychopharmacology at that time. The FDA had approved the VNS device in July 2005 over the objections of "more than 20" FDA scientists, Bloomberg reported a day earlier on July 18, 2006.

"This is about as classic an example as you'll ever find of conflict of interest and manipulation by thought leaders who are beholden to corporations," Dr Bernard Carroll, a member of the ACNP, told Bloomberg. "This article is a piece of a slick, skillfully coordinated PR campaign directed by the corporation," he said.

Ten days before the Wall Street Journal article, Cyberonics had sponsored a little noticed symposium on treatment-resistant depression at the annual Collegium Internationale Neuro-Psychopharmacologicum Meeting. The main presenters at the July 9, 2006 event were Drs Nemeroff, Dunner, and Keller (the lead author of the infamous Paxil “Study 329” on adolescents).

"In recent years, new treatment modalities have emerged, among them, the only FDA-approved treatment option specifically designed for this patient population, VNS Therapy," Dr Dunner stated in a press release for the event.

Dr Dunner was one of the authors vouching for the new device in the Neuropsychopharmacology paper. However, a “stamp of approval” from this guy should be taken with a grain of salt. Back in March 1995, he also vouched for Paxil as lead author of a study titled, "Reduction of suicidal thoughts with paroxetine in comparison with reference antidepressants and placebo," in the journal of European Neuropsychopharmacology. However, he later admitted that he never reviewed any of the actual data from that study.

Dr Nemeroff apparently learned nothing from the public embarrassment of the previous scandals. Last week, he was forced to step down as Chair of Emory’s psychiatry department. According to a December 23, 2008 posting by Ed Silverman, on the popular blog, Pharmalot:

"Under pressure from a US Senate Finance Committee investigation, renowned psychiatrist Charles Nemeroff is giving up the post he held for 17 years and must follow new restrictions on his outside activities, according to an Emory University statement.”

“Emory’s own investigation found Nemeroff received more than $800,000 from Glaxo, which paid Nemeroff more than any other drugmaker, but he never reported the fees. There were more than 250 speaking engagements between 2000 and 2006.”

"Moreover, Emory will not submit any National Institutes of Health grant or other sponsored grant or contract requests in which Nemeroff is listed as an investigator or has any other role for a period of at least two years,” Pharmalot reports.

All total, Dr Nemeroff earned more than $2.8 million from drug companies between 2000 and 2007, but failed to disclose at least $1.2 million to Emory, according to the Senator.

Dr Keller’s disclosure records are under investigation as well He also appears center stage in a new book by former Boston Globe reporter, Alison Bass, called, "Side Effects: A Prosecutor, a Whistleblower, and a Bestselling Antidepressant on Trial," The book contains a treasure trove of insider revelations with specifics on Dr Keller's endless conflicts of interest, along with other academics on the take. However, Ms Bass first broke the Keller story back on October 4, 1999, in the Globe, when she reported that he was forced to forfeit "hundreds of thousands of dollars" in state grant money in 1998.

She explained how in the same year that Dr Keller authored a review article in "Biological Psychiatry," and concluded that the newer antidepressants Zoloft, Bristol-Meyer’s Serzone, and Wyeth’s Effexor were more effective, he received $77,400 in personal income and $1.2 million in research funding from Bristol-Myers, as well as $8,785 in personal income from Wyeth.

In "Side Effects," she notes that Dr Keller did not report any income to the IRS from Glaxo for 1998, but says he did receive money from the Paxil maker, and also earned $62,500 from Celexa maker Forest Labs that year.

Dr Keller published 3 studies, "with colleagues," in the Journal of the American Medical Association and the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, touting the efficacy of Zoloft in 1998, and received $218,000 in personal income and more than $3 million in research funding from Pfizer the same year, Ms Bass reports.

The "colleagues," referred to include the all-time champion of child drugging, Dr Joseph Biederman, the main promoter of the bogus epidemic of childhood bipolar disorder. He too is under investigation for taking $1.6 million from drug companies between 2000 and 2007, and only disclosing a fraction of that amount to Harvard. On December 30, 2008, Harvard’s teaching hospital, Massachusetts General announced that Dr Biederman was no longer participating in several industry-funded trials and had agreed to “not to participate in any outside activities that are paid for or sponsored by industry, such as consulting activities or speaking engagements.”

In most of the SSRI trials conducted on children, "colleagues," will also include Dr Graham Emslie of Prozac fame, and the Zoloft Czar, Dr Karen Wagner, both from the University of Texas.

Back in April 2004, the British Medical Journal published a paper by a research team led by Dr Jon Jureidini, head of the department of psychological medicine at Women's and Children's Hospital in Australia, after a review of the clinical trial data on the safety and efficacy of antidepressant use with children. The review included the published trials, along with some unpublished data made public by the Committee on Safety of Medicines in the UK.

The Australian team was extremely critical of the published papers on the major trials of Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft, with Emslie, Wagner and Keller listed as lead authors. "In discussing their own data," the team wrote, "the authors of all of the four larger studies have exaggerated the benefits, downplayed the harms, or both."

"It is vital," they wrote, "that authors, reviewers, and editors ensure that published interpretations of data are more reasonable and balanced than is the case in the industry-dominated literature on childhood antidepressants."

Seven months later, the New York Times ran a report by Barry Meier on November 29, 2004, throwing another spotlight on the trail of corruption within the SSRI research factories, and zeroed in on Dr Wagner. He noted that, from 1998 to 2001, she was one of several researchers participating in more than a dozen industry-funded pediatric trials of antidepressants and other drugs, and that some of the results were published, but many were not.

In her Zoloft study, Dr Wagner acknowledged that she had received "research support" from several drug makers including Pfizer, which paid $80,000 to the center in connection with the test, Mr Meier reports. But she did not state that she received “sizable payments” from Pfizer for work related to the study, he says.

The same month that patients were first recruited for the Zoloft trial, in a financial filing with the school in December 1992, Dr Wagner reported that she received more than $10,000 from Pfizer, with no further details. A lawyer for the school told Meier that Dr Wagner said Pfizer had paid her $20,500 during the course of the Zoloft trial. But records for payments she received in speaking and consulting fees could not be located.

In September, Dr Wagner’s name was added to the Senator Grassley’s investigative roster, along with Dr John Rush. Between 2000 and 2005, Glaxo alone paid Dr Wagner $160,404, but only $600 was disclosed to the University, according to the Senator. She was also paid over $11,000 in 2002, by Eli Lilly, and that money was not disclosed either. Lilly paid Dr Rush $17,802 in 2001, but he only reported $3,000, Senator Grassley said.

Dr Emslie’s financial trail to the drug makers gained media attention last summer due to his prominent role in the “Texas Children's Medication Algorithm Project,” and the creation of a drug formularies for children. He was chairman of the panel that wrote guidelines instructing doctors to prescribe SSRIs off-label to kids for depression in 1998. On August 18, 2008, the Dallas Morning News ran the headline: “Conflict of interest fears halt children's mental health project.”

“A state mental health plan naming the preferred psychiatric drugs for children has been quietly put on hold over fears drug companies may have given researchers consulting contracts, speakers fees or other perks to help get their products on the list,” the News reported. University disclosure forms indicate that Dr Emslie “has made at least $130,000 in drug company speakers fees and consulting contracts since 2002,” the paper noted.

In discussing the investigation of Dr Wagner on the Senate floor, Dr Grassley pointed out that she was a co-author on Paxil Study 329. In 2001, when the study was published, Glaxo “reported paying her $18,255,” he said. “Study 329 was cited in a New York case where GlaxoSmithKline was charged with ‘repeated and persistent fraud,’” the Senator added.

Dr Emslie was also a co-author on the Paxil study and a check of the full list for 329, reveals that 5 of the co-authors appear with Dr Emslie on the guidelines for the “Children's Medication Algorithm Project,” including Karen Wagner, Boris Birmaher, Barbara Geller, Neil Ryan and Michael Strober. Dr Rush’s name is also on the Texas guidelines but he moved to Singapore last August.

********
Evelyn Pringle
epringle05@yahoo.com

(Written as part of the SSRI Litigation Round-Up, Sponsored by Baum, Hedlund, Aristei & Goldman’s Pharmaceutical Litigation Department www.baumhedlundlaw.com)

(Evelyn Pringle is a columnist for Scoop Independent News and an investigative journalist focused on exposing corruption in government and corporate America)

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03 February 2009

RFID: A PASSPORT TO 1984

IT'S ALMOST TIME FOR ME TO RENEW MY PASSPORT, which I have used quite frequently over the past decade. Things have changed since 1999, as you know, and all U.S. passports now come equipped with a RFID, or a Radio-frequency identification chip.

This does not make me happy — at all — nor does the prospect of being a player in one of Orwell's visions of 1984. According to Joris Evers of CNET, "RFID tags are being included in passports despite concerns about the holder's privacy and security . At worst, the chips could let terrorists identify bearers from a distance, which means they could be used as a trigger for explosives, experts have said.

The take-up of the electronic passports is bad news for privacy, said Bruce Schneier, chief technology officer of Counterpane Internet Security. "The risk in RFID passports is surreptitious access, and the security measures different countries are taking are varied in their scope and effectiveness," he said.

The soluytion? For protection, Schneier suggests that holders of an electronic passport should GUARD IT WELL (um, thanks for that wonderful advice). "If you're stuck with one of these passports, use a photocopy whenever you can and keep the real one wrapped in tin foil," he said.

Of course, the U.S. government has repeatedly dismissed the security and privacy concerns.

In the above video, Ethical hacker Chris Paget demonstrates a low-cost mobile device that surreptitiously reads and clones RFID tags embedded in United States passport cards and enhanced drivers' licenses.

As you'll see, it cost him less than $250 for the electronic gear capable of stealing your passport information.

Feel safer — or violated?