Part 2 – Looking for Answers

Excerpts from A Life Worth Living – Schizophrenia Alternative Treatment: Part 2 – Looking for Answers

Chapter 6     Payments from Pharmaceutical Companies Influence Clinical Decision Making

Before trusting your child to a psychiatrist and their prescriptions for antipsychotic drugs, please read this chapter. I’m going to lay out the facts for you in eight sections. I hope when you are done reading, you will understand that we are in a national crisis with mental healthcare for our children, and the choices we make are a matter of life or death for our children.

  • Payoffs from Pharmaceutical Companies to Psychiatrists.
  • No Safe Dosage Levels Set for Antipsychotics by Pharmaceutical Companies or the FDA based on the safety and efficacy of antipsychotic drugs.
  • International Consensus Study for Dosage of Antipsychotic Drugs conflicts with common dosages prescribed by US psychiatrists.
  • No Efficacy Studies for Antipsychotic Drugs for the Dosage Levels Commonly Prescribed by Psychiatrists. I found no studies done for dosages commonly prescribed or for durations over eighteen months nor for the dosage of Seroquel that my son was put on. All drug studies in medical schools and universities in the United States are funded by the pharmaceutical industry, and only studies on pharmaceuticals are funded.
  • World Health Organization’s Assessment of the Use of Antipsychotic Drugs in the United States.
  • No Accurate Statistics For Rate Of Suicide In Adolescents diagnosed with schizophrenia and put on antipsychotic drugs.
  • No Legal Recourse for Misprescribing or Overprescribing Antipsychotic Drugs since no safe dosage levels are listed in the mandated medication information sheets nor are any required by the FDA (and the FDA is responsible for the safety and effectiveness of food and drugs).
  • Number of Adults, Adolescents, and Children in the United States on Antipsychotic Drugs as the First Line of Treatment for Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, and Aggression

Is this an evil conspiracy between psychiatrists and drug companies? Are psychiatrists ill intentioned in their treatment of their schizophrenic patients? No. This is big business and how it operates without any controls. Without safety guidelines (validated by long-term studies and accepting subjective data as real data) for commonly prescribed doses of antipsychotics, the psychiatrist makes his or her own decisions based on his or her experience with his or her patients.

Unfortunately, the studies that have been done on antipsychotics demonstrate that the dosage and combination of drugs must be individualized for each patient. In other words, a thirty-five-year-old man with paranoid schizophrenia that does just fine on 2000 mg a day of Seroquel will not have the same outcome as another patient with schizoaffective disorder on 1000 mg of Seroquel a day. Note: Both of these dosages are higher than the International Consensus for Safe Dosages recommends and both dosages were prescribed by my son’s psychiatrist.

Payoffs from Pharmaceutical Companies to Psychiatrists

In the United States, antipsychotics are prescribed to children and adolescents at a rate six times greater than the United Kingdom, which has socialized medicine and charges the same amount for any medicine. In June 2007, The New York Times reported that psychiatrists in Vermont and Minnesota topped the list of doctors receiving pharmaceutical company gifts and that this financial relationship corresponds to the “growing use of atypicals (new antipsychotics) in children.” From 2000 to 2005, drugmaker payments to psychiatrists in Minnesota rose more than sixfold to $1.6 million. During these same years, prescriptions of antipsychotics for children under the state’s insurance program rose more than ninefold.

About Open Payments Database

Doctors and hospitals having financial relationships with health care manufacturing companies stimulated the creation of Open Payments, a federally run transparency program begun in 2014 that collects information about these financial relationships and makes it available to the public. These relationships can involve money for research activities, gifts, speaking fees, meals, or travel. One of the ways Open Payments provides this data to the public is through a search tool, which allows an individual to search for a doctor or teaching hospital that has received payments or a company that has made payments. Exploring this information and discussing the results found with your healthcare provider can help to make more informed healthcare decisions.

More information about the program can be found on the Open Payments website http://www.OpenPaymentsData.cms.gov. There you can get an overview of the data that’s been collected and displayed and learn more about the context around the data. For questions about the data, contact the Open Payments team at opdata@cms.hhs.gov.

One of my son’s psychiatrists is listed in the Open Payments Data; probably many psychiatrists are on this list, since receiving pharmaceutical paybacks is common practice in all specialties. Since this service has only been available since 2014 and two of the most prescribed antipsychotic drugs for schizophrenia Seroquel and risperidone became available in their generic form in 2014, the kickbacks listed were under $1,000 for each doctor. This doesn’t show how much they made while the drugs were still under the original patent name (which lasted for ten years) or when the patent name prescriptions are written for which the government insurance plans pay.

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