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Conflict of Interest Rampant in Child Drug Prescriptions

Focus has been placed on alleged financial conflicts of interest of psychiatrists involved in the Children’s Medication Algorithm Project (CMAP). The CMAP protocol has been “quietly shelved” after objections were raised by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.

The state of Texas is suing a pharmaceutical company that allegedly used false advertising and improper influence to get its products on the now-mandatory adult protocol, the Texas Medication Algorithm Project (TMAP).

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) stated that three Harvard experts whose research contributed to an explosion of antipsychotic drug use in children failed to report a combined $3.2 million in company consulting fees, in violation of Harvard’s rules.

Controversy about promotion of psychotropics in children is breaking out in other states also. New Jersey state assemblyman Michael Coherty wrote to the state department of health on Aug 20, asking about the policy that permitted the NJ Medicaid program to spend $73 million between 2000 and 2007 on antipsychotic drugs for children under the age of 18 although the drugs are not FDA approved for pediatric use. Lawsuits are pending in several states.

Issues include improper marketing and failure to disclose serious side effects, which prompted state programs to overpay for olanzapine (Zyprexa), quetiapine (Seroquel), and risperidone (Risperdal).

Particularly in children, it is not just the drugs prescribed, but the diagnoses that are in question. Six million children have been diagnosed with serious psychiatric disorders warranting drug treatment -- 1 million with bipolar disorder, long believed to occur only in adults.
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
While pharmaceutical companies are busy paying off strategically chosen psychiatrists and Harvard experts in order to make their drugs part of lucrative state “mandatory” programs, who is looking out for the children?

Apparently no one, as instead of making it widely known that conflict of interest is running rampant in many state drug programs for kids; these concerns have been “quietly shelved.”

What happened in Texas is appalling, and likely an example of what is going on around the rest of the United States as well.

The Children’s Medication Algorithm Project (CMAP) was meant to determine which psychiatric drugs were most effective for children, and which order they should be prescribed at state-funded mental health centers.

Any maker of a psychiatric drug, of course, wants to get their drug on that list, preferably in the number one spot. That way all of the innocent children who find their way into a state mental health institution will basically become guaranteed “customers.” Well, CMAP has been put on hold for now and officials are vaguely stating it’s because the state is suing a drug company that may have used false advertising and improper influence to get its drugs on Texas" now-mandatory adult protocol.

Common sense would dictate that there must be suspicion of fraud on the children’s level as well, or else the Texas government would have surely kept moving full-steam ahead. And sure enough, despite the CMAP researchers claiming they have only the children’s best interest at heart, the Dallas Morning News reported that:

“At least four of CMAP"s key developers -- all affiliated with the University of Texas system, and all of them published child psychiatry experts -- have received research funding from drug companies, or have been consultants and speakers for several different pharmaceutical firms, according to their own published papers and financial disclosure forms filed with the university.

Drugs made by some of these manufacturers appear in the children"s drug protocol.”

Is this unbiased research? Not even close.

And this is nothing unusual, either. Take Dr. Joseph Biederman, a world-renowned child psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School whose work has directly helped fuel the use of antipsychotic medicines in children. He earned at least $1.6 million in consulting fees from drug makers from 2000 to 2007. However, he did not report much of this income to university officials.

It is bad enough that this sort of thing happens all the time for adult medications. But we are talking about children here. Children who, often, are being raised in foster care and have no one to speak out on their behalf.

How can we, as a society, continue to allow money to come before lives, and even before children’s lives? And why is it that so few people are willing to step up and really expose the corruption once and for all?

I digress. This is the reason why I continue to get up in the morning and try to get the word out one person, one newsletter, at a time. And why I sincerely hope you will take the information that follows and share it with everyone in your circle who is willing to listen.

Psychiatric Drugs for Kids Have Gotten Out of Hand

This is actually a serious understatement.

In 2007 alone, half a million children and teenagers were given at least one prescription for an antipsychotic, including 20,500 under the age of 6. American children are also about three times more likely to be prescribed psychotropic medication than children in Europe.

Psychotropic drugs, by definition, alter your mind, your emotions and your behavior. Many of these drugs (Prozac, Paxil, Ritalin, Zyprexa, Depakote and others) are not even approved for kids, which is alarming considering that even when prescribed properly, the various side effects of these drugs are dizzying:

• Anxiety, depression, impulsivity and obsession
• Anger, compulsion, temper tantrums and mood instability (this one, ironically, from a mood stabilizer drug)
• Social awkwardness, withdrawal, tics
• Sleep disturbances
• Separation anxiety
• Behavior problems
• Inattention and distractability

Sadly, those who are consistently getting the short end of the stick are kids in foster care. Children in the foster care system, some as young as 3 years old, are being screened for mental illnesses and started on psychiatric drugs for disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression. Among children in foster care:

• 60 percent in Texas take psychiatric drugs
• Two-thirds in Massachusetts take them
• 55 percent in Florida take the drugs

Well, just imagine being a 5-year-old entering the foster care system, likely because you have been physically or emotionally abused, or simply have no one to look after you. Who wouldn’t display some signs of mental upset at a time like that? Yet, what these kids need is some love and tending to their emotions, along with replacing all their toxic processed junk foods with life-giving, vital, healthy food -- not medications.

Most of these systems, however, do not have the staff nor the resources to give kids the proper care they need and deserve -- plus, they’re controlled by the government and their biggest supporter, the drug companies.

So what is their go-to fast and easy solution to helping these kids? Medication.

The REAL Causes of Behavioral Problems in Kids, and How to Address Them

Behavioral problems in children are very frequently related to improper diet, emotional upset and exposure to toxins. To address these underlying toxins in your own child, without resorting to drugs:

1. Give your child plenty of high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fats like krill oil.

2. Balance your child’s intake of omega-3 and omega-6 fats (from vegetables oils), by limiting their intake of vegetable oils and providing them with a high-quality animal source of omega-3 fat like krill or fish oil.

3. Avoid giving your child ANY processed foods, especially those containing artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.

4. Replace soft drinks, fruit juices, and pasteurized milk in your child’s diet with pure water. This is HUGE since high fructose corn syrup is the NUMBER ONE source of calories in children -- remember this includes fruit juices!

5. Reduce or eliminate grains and sugars from your child’s diet -- yes even healthy organic whole grains can cause problems. Try eliminating them first for 1-2 weeks and see if you don’t notice a radical and amazing improvement in your child’s behavior.

6. Make sure your child gets plenty of exercise and outdoor playtime in the sunshine.

7. Provide your child a way to address his or her emotional stressors. Even children can benefit from the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), which you or an EFT practitioner can teach them how to use.

I have treated many hundreds of children with behavioral and mental disorders and have consistently seen them improve once the underlying toxicities and food changes were addressed, so parents let me assure you that there is hope!

For even more on this important topic, you can view my interview with the late pediatric expert Dr. Lendon Smith.