The Hunt For The Mad Gene

The hunt for the mad gene, despite setbacks, continues.

According to an article in the World Of Psychology authored by John Ghohol Psyd:

While I believe understanding human genetics and the neurological basis of mental disorders is important, invaluable work, I think articles like Kandel’s sort of miss the point. This work is slow and arduous, and for every one step forward, we take two steps back. Indeed, we are making progress, but it is not progress one can easily track or summarize in a mainstream news article of this nature.

In the treatment of mental disorders, we have plenty of approaches that work just as well as (and, in fact, work better than) any medical treatment for a medical disease. (Honestly, Kandel should look at the research behind the vast majority of surgical procedures to see the lack of rigorous scientific data that he’s demanding for mental illnesses.)

Genetics may one day hold some sort of key to our understanding of mental disorders. But that’s a line that’s been repeated hundreds of times over the past two decades, and one that seems no truer today than it did in 1989.

Hold on. I’ve skipped to the end of the article when we should begin at the beginning.

For decades, scientists have been making claims about the genetic roots of mental illness, ranging from schizophrenia and depression, to bipolar disorder and attention deficit disorder (ADHD). And for decades, they’ve largely been chasing ghosts.

Eric Kandel, writing for Newsweek, makes the at-least-annual appeal that scientists are making “certain advances in genetics” which give “us new reasons for optimism” in understanding the biological basis for mental illness. As someone who’s been tracking the progress of such genetic advances over the past two decades, I have to say, I remain squarely skeptical.

I’m more than just a little skeptical, I’m an unbeliever. The religion of Mental Illness, the gospel of the DSM, the monastery of the asylum/hospital, are no longer subjects of very much interest to me, nor are they my present stomping grounds. I relax, work, and play much better in a less restrictive environment. The true believers have their world, and I want no part of it.

ADHD is a disorder that didn’t exist 100 years ago. Oops. I stand corrected. Some of these looney bin doctors and their psychosomatic cohorts have fabricated a history for this bogus disease. It just took until the 1980s for them to come up with a name for it. Yeah, and if you buy that one, I’ve got some property I think you’d be interested in purchasing. Look, at one time few people went on to college to get a degree, now almost everybody is expected to get that scroll of paper. If you need a little help getting there. I’m looking the other way. Whatever. If it works, use it.

And depression? You have got to be kidding! So some people bounce right back, and some people take to their beds for a few weeks, months, years. Those things happen, or don’t happen. Kick yourself! Beat yourself up! Blame yourself! Take to your bed! Don’t get out! You did this to yourself. You are a bad person. You can’t do any good. Gosh, you’re your own mama and papa talking. Go to Oz and do the tin woodsman thing. Go get a life, but don’t blame yourself if it all goes awry. Yeah, right. It was your genes beating you up. That’s makes it all right, huh? Yeah, sure. I know. The doctor has this pill, but geez…

Bipolar Disorder, or Britney Spears Disease, is popping up everywhere these days. It was always thought to be inherited. Funny thing though, it has experienced a forty fold increase in incidence of occurance of late. It used to be much rarer. Now it’s almost twice as common as schizophrenia. This Dr. Joseph Biederman figured a lot of these ADHD kids were actually early onset Bipolar cases, and viola! Lithium anyone? Hmmm. Do the math. Something is wrong here. Genes may mutate but they don’t jump from body to body without a little hoochie koochie unless they don’t belong to those bodies in the first place. Maybe its viral. Anyway, it keeps the doctors in business, doesn’t it?

In the meanwhile, the wild ghost mad gene chase continues.

Green Mind, Good Mind, Healthy Mind

One problem with the chemical imbalance theory. and the pharmaceutical products that have been developed because of it, is that no chemical balance has ever been found in people who aren’t labeled mentally ill to justify any such theory.

The chemical imbalance theory rather than developing out of any study of what was going on in the brain of people in general instead developed out of the way the drugs work on the brain when doctors were giving it to crazy people to control their behavior.

These drugs have nasty effects. These effects cause many people who have taken these drugs to throw out their pills. Doctors and drug manufacturers have been doing research to develop drugs that their patients are more apt to take.

The result of this search for the more perfect drug has been drugs that cause a great many health complications, and wind up killing people off 25 years earlier than the average person.

Psychiatric drugs are addictive. When you change a person’s chemistry, then that person adjusts to working under this altered brain chemistry. Take the drug away, and a person can wind up back in the hospital. The person will have to, if he or she can, readjust to working under his or her natural chemistry again.

Change a person’s chemistry for a long enough period of time, and you will have damaged that person to an irreparable extent. Change the person’s chemistry for even a relatively short period of time, and you risk doing damage to that person.

Children are naturally anxious; it’s no disease when it comes of inexperience; one learns by living and doing. Dealing with social situations through drugs can prevent the child from learning how to deal with his or her emotions well into adulthood.

Drugs, and the drugs used to mute the emotions of the labeled mentally ill are no exception, work by impairing brain function. Reliance on chemical substances for emotional stability is its own best critique. As some ex-users of psychedelic drugs are fond of saying, “There is no high like the high of nature.”

Psychiatric drugs can prevent a person from experiencing this natural high. For this and other reasons, alternative treatments need to be developed and established for people labeled mentally ill that don’t involve the use of these drugs for those people who desire to have such an option.

We don’t need to encourage people to drink polluted water, we don’t need to encourage people to breathe polluted air, and we don’t need to encourage them to swallow the pollution that comes in a pill bottle either.

Conflict of Interest Investigation

A Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Senator Charles Grassley, Republican of Iowa, is currently investigating the financial ties of researchers in this country to the pharmaceutical industry. At issue is whether some of these doctors, as the investigation has revealed, underreported the funding they received from the drug companies.

Manufacturing pharmaceutical products is a trillion dollar industry. Research funded by the pharmaceutical companies, who stand to profit from any results supporting their products, cannot but be biased. Pharmaceutical companies have long been known to suppress those results that don’t support their marketing efforts. When the pharmacuetical companies pull the strings of their academic research puppets, the health of the world’s human population can suffer as a result.


The National Association for the Mentally Ill, at one point, came under the scrutiny of the investigators. NAMI turned over documents to the committee revealing that 56% of NAMI funding, well over a ½, came from the pharmaceutical industry in 2008.

Among the people being investigated and the causes for their investigation I list below:

Alan Schatzberg

Current President of the American Psychiatric Association

Owned $6,000,000 equity in drug developer Corcept Therapeutics at the same time he was principal investigator in National Institute of Heath funded Stanford University study of Corcept drug mifepristone.

Initiated patent application to on mifepristone to treat ‘psychotic depression’ in 1997.

Co-founded Corcept, 1998, and in 1999, extended National Institute of Heath grant for the study of ‘psychotic depression’ to include mifepristone.

In 2008, he stepped down as principal investigator due to the ongoing Congressional investigation.

Joseph Biederman

Chief of the Program in Pediatric Psychopharmacology, Massachusetts General Hospital

He has received funds from 15 Pharmaceutical companies.

Earned $1,600,000 in consulting fees from drugs companies between 2000 and 2007, but did not report all of his earnings to Harvard University.

He promised Johnson & Johnson in advance that his research would prove their drug risperidone effective in treating preschool age children.

Melissa DelBello

Research Psychiatrist, University of Cincinnati

She was cited for failure to disclose to the University of Cincinnati much of her earnings from the drug companies.

Lead author of a 2002 study that reported some patients were helped by the drug seraquel, manufactured by AstraZeneca, which paid her $180,000 between 2003 and 2004.

She disclosed that she’d received $100,000 from that company from 2005 – 2007 when it was actually $238, 000.

Frederick Goodwin

Former National Institute of Mental Health director

He was the host of “The Infinite Mind” on National Public Radio, a show that had a 10 year run until it was removed due to investigation.

He earned at least $1,300,000 between 2000 and 2007 for giving marketing lectures to doctors on behalf of drug manufacturers.

Charles Nemeroff

Professor and Chairman of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Emory University School of Medicine

He received between 2000 and 2006 $960,000 from GlaxoSmithKline, but reported to Emory U receiving only $35,000 of it.

Between 2000 and 2008, he received more than $2,800,000 from drug manufacturers but reported failed to disclose $1,200,000 of this.

2006, he stepped down as editor of Neuropsychopharmacology after publishing favorable review of vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) device, manufactured by Cyberonics, for which he was paid consultant fees he failed to publish.

2003, he co-authored favorable review of therapies in Nature Neuroscience, failing to mention his significant financial interests in three of them, including own the patent for one—a lithium patch.

At one point he consulted for 21 drug and device companies simultaneously.

Martin Keller

Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior of Brown University, Chairman of the Psychiatry Department of the Albert Medical School

His co-authored Study 329 on Paxil use in children and adolescents was fiercely criticized in journals for misrepresenting data, suppressing information linking drug to suicidal tendencies and reaching a conclusion unsupported by the data.

There are claims that a GSK affiliated employee ghostwrote Study 329, while Keller made huge sums of money from that drug company.

In 1999, Keller earned more than $842,000, in 1998, $556,000, in 1997, $444,000 from companies manufacturing antidepressants. He did not disclose the extent of his financial ties with companies in the journals that published his research.

Augustus John Rush

Former Vice-Chairman of the Department of Clinical Sciences at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

He Reported only $3,000 of the nearly $18,000 Eli Lilly paid him in 2001.

Between 2000 and 2007 Augustus John neglected to report another $12,000 from drug companies.

Thomas Spencer

Assistant Director of the Pediatric Psychopharmacology Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, and Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

He failed to disclose at $1,000,000 in earning from drug companies between 2000 and 2007.

Karen Wagner

Professor, University of Texas Medical Branch

She reported failed to disclose more than $150,000 in payments from GlaxoSmithKline.

She was a co-researcher with Keller on Study 329. In 2001, when study published, company reported paid her $18,255.

Between 2000 and 2005, GlaxoSmithKline paid her more than $160,000, though she reported only $600 of this payment to the University.

In 2002, Eli Lily paid her over $11,000, undisclosed.

Timothy Wilens

Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School.

Timothy Alleged failed to report at least $1,600,000 earned from drug manufacturers between 2000 and 2007.

Zachary Stowe

Director of the Woman’s Mental Health Program Emory University

Dr Stowe was getting GlaxoSmithKline company money while doing research on the use of antidepressants in pregnant woman.

He reportedly received $154,400 from GlaxoSmithKline in 2007, and $99,300 in the 1st 10 months of 2008.

Medical Schools Under Scrutiny

Perhaps you’ve heard of the Senate Finance Committee investigation, headed by Senator Charles Grassley, Republican of Iowa, into the conflict of interests of doctors with drug company ties.

Perhaps you’ve also heard of the recent grading of Medical Schools on ethical standards by the American Medical Student Association.

The AMSA requested information from a number of schools across the country regarding ethical requirements when it came to conflicts of interest. Out of these requests came its grades.

The Medical School at University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia, where I lived until recently, received a C. The Medical School at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, where I presently reside, received an F.

Why did UF receive an F? The University of Florida didn’t get this information to the American Medical Student Association in time.

Officials at UF have explained the delay, and supposedly have gotten the information to the AMSA. Too late for this years mark, it would seem, but they’re on it. The requirements UF has established to protect itself from conflicts of interest also made their way into the local paper, the Gainesville Sun, as a result of this development.

Now, guess what? Senator Grassley has sent letters to 23 University Medical Schools across the country asking them to share information they neglected to share with the AMSA as a part of his investigation.

If Senator Grassley lived in my state, let me tell you, he’d have my vote!

Ministering to Lady Macbeth

Macbeth, Act 5 Scene 1

Enter a Doctor of Physic and a Waiting-Gentlewoman.


1 I have two nights watched with you, but can
2 perceive no truth in your report. When was it
3 she last walked?


4 Since his majesty went into the field, I have
5 seen her rise from her bed, throw her night-gown
6 upon her, unlock her closet, take forth paper, fold
7 it, write upon’t, read it, afterwards seal it, and again
8 return to bed; yet all this while in a most fast sleep.


9 A great perturbation in nature, to receive at once
10 the benefit of sleep, and do the effects of
11 watching! In this slumbery agitation, besides her
12 walking and other actual performances, what, at any
13 time, have you heard her say?


14 That, sir, which I will not report after her.


15 You may to me, and ’tis most meet you
16 should.


17 Neither to you nor any one; having no witness
18 to confirm my speech.

Enter LADY [MACBETH], with a taper.

19 Lo you, here she comes! This is her very guise; and,
20 upon my life, fast asleep. Observe her; stand close.


21 How came she by that light?


22 Why, it stood by her. She has light by her
23 continually; ’tis her command.


24 You see, her eyes are open.


25 Ay, but their sense is shut.


26 What is it she does now? Look, how she rubs
27 her hands.


28 It is an accustomed action with her, to seem thus
29 washing her hands. I have known her continue in
30 this a quarter of an hour.


31 Yet here’s a spot.


32 Hark! she speaks. I will set down what comes
33 from her, to satisfy my remembrance the more
34 strongly.


35 Out, damned spot! out, I say!—One: two: why,
36 then, ’tis time to do’t.—Hell is murky!—Fie, my
37 lord, fie! a soldier, and afeard? What need we
38 fear who knows it, when none can call our power
39 to account?—Yet who would have thought the old
40 man to have had so much blood in him?


41 Do you mark that?


42 The thane of Fife had a wife; where is she now?—
43 What, will these hands ne’er be clean?—No more o’
44 that, my lord, no more o’ that: you mar all with
45 this starting.


46 Go to, go to; you have known what you should
47 not.


48 She has spoke what she should not, I am sure
49 of that; heaven knows what she has known.


50 Here’s the smell of the blood still. All the
51 perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this
52 little hand. O, O, O!


53 What a sigh is there! The heart is sorely
54 charg’d.


55 I would not have such a heart in my bosom
56 for the dignity of the whole body.


57 Well, well, well.


58 Pray God it be, sir.


59 This disease is beyond my practise; yet I
60 have known those which have walked in
61 their sleep who have died holily in their beds.


62 Wash your hands, put on your nightgown;
63 look not so pale.—I tell you yet again, Banquo’s
64 buried; he cannot come out on’s grave.


65 Even so?


66 To bed, to bed! there’s knocking at the gate:
67 come, come, come, come, give me your hand. What’s
68 done cannot be undone.—To bed, to bed, to bed!

Exit Lady.


69 Will she go now to bed?


70 Directly.


71 Foul whisperings are abroad. Unnatural deeds
72 Do breed unnatural troubles; infected minds
73 To their deaf pillows will discharge their secrets.
74 More needs she the divine than the physician.
75 God, God forgive us all! Look after her;
76 Remove from her the means of all annoyance,
77 And still keep eyes upon her. So, good night:
78 My mind she has mated, and amazed my sight.
79 I think, but dare not speak.


Good night, good doctor.


MacBeth, Act 5 Scene 3, Lines 37-62


37 …How does your patient, doctor?


            Not so sick, my lord,
38 As she is troubled with thick coming fancies,
39 That keep her from her rest.


           Cure her of that.
40 Canst thou not minister to a mind diseased,
41 Pluck from the memory a rooted sorrow,
42 Raze out the written troubles of the brain
43 And with some sweet oblivious antidote
44 Cleanse the stuff’d bosom of that perilous stuff
45 Which weighs upon the heart?


           Therein the patient
46 Must minister to himself.


47 Throw physic to the dogs; I’ll none of it.
48 Come, put mine armour on; give me my staff.
49 Seyton, send out. Doctor, the thanes fly from me.
50 Come, sir, dispatch. If thou couldst, doctor, cast
51 The water of my land, find her disease,
52 And purge it to a sound and pristine health,
53 I would applaud thee to the very echo,
54 That should applaud again.—Pull’t off, I say.—
55 What rhubarb, senna, or what purgative drug,
56 Would scour these English hence? Hear’st thou of them?


57 Ay, my good lord; your royal preparation
58 Makes us hear something.


            Bring it after me.—
59 I will not be afraid of death and bane,
60 Till Birnam forest come to Dunsinane.

[Exeunt all but the Doctor.]


61 Were I from Dunsinane away and clear,
62 Profit again should hardly draw me here.


Oregon Bill Passes. Is It Enough?

Oregon House Bill 3114, after passing unanimously in both House and Senate, goes on to the governor’s desk to be signed into law. This bill, when signed into law, would require an annual review of cases involving children who have been prescribed psychiatric drugs when those children are under the age of 6. This piece of legislature was proposed after an investigation found that Oregon children in foster care were prescribed powerful psychiatric drugs at 4 times the rate of other children on Medicare.

Sen. Alan Bates, an Ashland Democrat and physician, acknowledged that children in foster care often have suffered trauma or emotional problems related to neglect or abuse. While some of these kids may need one or two drugs, Bates said, some of these children have three, four and even five prescriptions.

“We’re going to end that practice,” he said.
Oregon Bill Passes Senate

A Florida law requires parental or court consent before a child may be so drugged. A foster child on psychiatric drugs, Gabriel Myers, committed suicide in that state this spring. His suicide has prompted a Florida investigation.

Advocates and officials in other states should take heed. There can be little question that a much higher percentage of foster children are probably being prescribed these dangerous drugs in their states as well. Foster children need more protection from avaricious and misguided foster parents, doctors, and drug companies. How many Gabriel Myers will it take before this lesson strikes home!?

Before anyone starts jumping up and down with joy over the passage of this bill, let me add a few cautionary notes. Politicians have a way of passing legislation that serves only politicians, and I have a notion that this is another one of those self-serving laws. The Oregon bill falls way short of the kind of legislation that is needed!

This legislation has been drafted to deal with the drug cocktails some of these children have been put on. A drug cocktail is a regimen of more than one psychiatric drug used in the treating of the emotional disturbance some troubled people are thought to have. Drug cocktails have been shown to have the least promising results of any type of treatment given. The fact is, these combinations of drugs have been shown to be more likely to do harm to the person taking them, and to prevent any real improvement on the path of recovery, than they are likely to do any good.

Although what I was saying above pertains to adults as much as to children, what follows pertains to children. The age of consent is not 7 years old! A 7 year old child is not an adult!What happens when the child turns 7 years olds? Drug cocktails are OKay then? Of course, not! We need stronger and more far reaching legislation if it is to do anything at all. These children are children, and they should have adequate protection until such time as they turn 21 years of age, and that is not what is happening here.

There was a time, not that long ago, when children were relatively safe from psychiatric labels, and the effects of psychiatric drugs that went along with treatment. That time has passed. If children are to be protected from a lifetime of invalidation within the mental health system, then the younger they are protected, the better. Part of this protection should involve parental consent, and part of this protection should involve not having any safe guards that are put in place apply merely to children under the age of 6 or 7.

Prejudice In The Mental Health Profession

Recovery rates for people who have experienced a serious mental illness, according to the findings of a series of World Health Organization studies, are nearly twice as high in developing countries as they are in the developed world.

Psychiatrists and mental health workers in industrialized countries have tended to be very cynical about prospects for recovery for people labeled with severe mental illnesses given recovery and recidivism rates in the developed world. This cynicism in focus amounts to favoring a focus on the percentage of mental patients who don’t recover over a focus on the number who do recover.

Drug maintenance, the predominate means of managing mental illness in the developed world, has become an impediment to complete recovery from serious mental illness. How, after all, can a person be considered fully recovered when he or she has to take a drug to stay out of the hospital?

There are many other complications that come with the use of these drugs as well. The more deeply one looks into their usage, the less they seem the panacea that they have been cracked up and packaged to be. A number of authorities have pointed out that the reason some people appear to be emotionally disturbed can be due to the prescription chemicals they have ingested.

I gave a seminar at a church recently, and rather than registering surprise at the disparity in recovery rates between rich and poor countries, this mental health professional presents me with the conundrum of the paranoiac with a gun. Here’s another side of the problem, panic over the media created myth of the dangerous mad person.

You have to go to other statistics to establish that we are dealing with an exceptional instance, and not the run of the mill. Her case was a real case, but out of the ordinary, hardly typical.

I point this out because it underlies a deeper issue. Mental health professionals can be among the most prejudiced people in the world when it comes to the treatment of people labeled mentally ill. Professional cynicism is one of the most glaring examples of this prejudice.

Rather than improving recovery rates, much that is going on today in the mental health field concerns reacting to the relatively rare cases of violence involving people with psychiatric diagnoses that make the press. Looking for more people to treat, on the basis of the fear that somebody is going to commit a future act of violence, is not going to improve overall recovery rates.

You don’t fix a broken system by making it worse! Unfortunately, many of the efforts being made to repair what is seen as a faulty mental health system do just that.

Skirting The Issue In Missippi

This just in, there are fears that banning smoking in Eastern Missippi State Hospital will contribute to the black-market in cigarettes in that hospital. I seriously doubt that Missippi is the only state with a black-market for cigarettes in state psychiatric hospitals that no longer publicly permit smoking. I have seen Virginia, to mention one state, go through the process of banning cigarettes, and I’ve heard of a black-market for cigarettes in a hospital in that state.

Cigarette smoking is actually serving as the scapegoat for a very serious and more real health problem mental health consumers are facing these days. People in the mental health system are dying on average 25 years earlier than the rest of the population according to a National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors study. This phenomenon is attributed, to use of the atypical antipsychotic drugs developed to have fewer side effects than the original antipsychotic drugs. Another term for these antipsychotic drugs is neuroleptic which comes from the Greek, to “seize control of” the “nervous system”, and that word origin indicates, in health terms, the root of the problem.

These atypical antipsychotic drugs have been shown to contribute to a whole range of health problems from heart disease to obesity and diabetes. All of these health problems can cut short a person’s life span. Research has shown that the lives of people on many psychiatric drugs are shortened by every psychiatric drug they are taking. Not only can these drugs be harmful, but their long term use has been shown to be detrimental to treatment efforts rather than beneficial.

A more direct way of saving lives would be to ban the use of these antipsychotic drugs on the hospital units where they are used, but psychiatrists are unlikely to take this course of action any time soon. Involuntary patients have no choice and are routinely forced to take these drugs regardless of the health consequences of doing so while voluntary patients who try to assert themselves can end up facing a hearing, and ultimately on involuntary status. This is unfortunate, but until state hospitals are more open to other and healthy options, it will continue to be the case.

E. Fuller Torrey makes the claim that when it came to quitting smoking he would prefer to individualize treatment plans to fit the patient. I am very skeptical of E. Fuller Torrey’s statement in the sense that although he might individualize treatment plans when it came to quitting smoking, I am sure he wouldn’t allow this individualization when it came to the use of antipsychotic drugs. Until psychiatrists attend to the results of studies that don’t necessarily agree with the textbooks they used in school, they won’t take the steps necessary to save lives.

Year’s Zenith

Celebrations can be said to be mad in that they represent a lapse from our typical everyday sane way of life. Many Christian holidays, having a pagan basis, allow the shadow of the cross to be lifted from our shoulders for a few lost hours. When the occasion bears no such Christian pretensions, our conventional way of existence is even less valid, and anything goes.

Today at Stonehenge 35,000 people showed up to celebrate the summer solstice.

“There has been a great atmosphere and where else would you want to be on midsummer’s day?” said Peter Carson of English Heritage, the body in charge of Stonehenge.

Summer solstice, of course, must represent for some people much the same things as New Years Eve does for others. Given these heights, in terms of social mania and mass hysteria, what can the rest of the year be by comparison but doldrums and regrets? (For some people, read depression.) On a more mythological level, isn’t New Years Eve the Christianized Saturnalia? Still, I haven’t time to go into that at the moment. (I’m also refraining from lamenting the crackdown that just started in a certain Middle Eastern country due to this event.)

What’s left for the rest of the year? Should a drag develop we could always throw our own little bacchanal, or following Lewis Carroll example in one of Alice’s Adventures, we could celebrate un-birthdays. Hold on, all is not lost…13 more days, and American’s have their independence day to celebrate. Wouldn’t it be mad for people in other nation’s to join them in this celebrating! Especially those living in totalitarian countries!

This leads to the next holiday, and a reminder, Mad Pride is celebrated around the world on Bastille Day, and that is only 23 days away. Do you have your own personal Bastille to storm!? Well then, why not join us as we celebrate on July 14 our release from the bedlams of this world. The more the merrier, and so on that day you’re under no compulsion to gather your thoughts, or succor a hangover, before the 15th. Alcoholics can do so metaphorically, and only after consuming non-alcoholic beer, punch, or beverages. Let substance abusers, unless they are incorrigibly obese, or it contains an illicit substance, eat cake!

Excuse me, no offense was intended. You can do as you want. Should it lead to an early demise, well, those things can turn legendary, and thus keep the celebration going. If it doesn’t, we won’t need extra bodies to do your celebrating for you. Anyway, it all works out, and the next mid-summers eve is as fit for romance as any other might have been if you missed out on this one.

Protecting Children In Foster Homes

The House in Oregon unanimously passed a bill on the medicating of foster children. The bill, House Bill 3114, is expected to go on and pass in the Senate as well. This bill, when it becomes law, will allow for more oversight of foster children on psychiatric drugs.

Children in state foster care — even kids younger than 4 — are being prescribed powerful antidepressant and antipsychotic drugs.

Oregon, like other states, has a big need for such legislation.

A November 2007 investigation by The Oregonian found children in foster care were prescribed psychiatric medications at four times the rate of other children covered by Medicaid. The newspaper also found that state laws and rules governing the use of psychiatric medications by kids in foster care were often ignored, and that hundreds of children were taking several prescription drugs with little or no state scrutiny.

More recent numbers show 1,461 children, about 20 percent of the kids in foster care last October, were prescribed at least one psychiatric drug. Those drugs include Ritalin, prescribed for attention-deficit disorder, as well as antidepressants such as Prozac and Zoloft.

5 out of 6 children in Oregon placed in Foster care, the above mentioned study showed, did not receive a mental health assessment within 60 days as required by law.

With the recent death of Gabriel Myers in Florida, a 7 year old boy who committed suicide, the need for more legislation by other states to protect children in foster care has become glaringly obvious.

The bill would also require an annual review of the child’s medication when the child is on more than 2 drugs or when the child is under the age of 6 years.

Being a former foster child myself I have seen this problem first hand. I will say some kids need the meds but most don’t. A lot of foster parents like the kids to be drugged so they are easier to deal with. There are the few exceptions where there are great foster parents out there that make the kids their own family but it is rare. I hope they get the system fixed one of these days so the kid’s don’t suffer.

Commented Missy Sauce (not her real name), a former foster child.

My fear is that perhaps this bill doesn’t go far enough towards protecting Oregon’s children.

“There’s an incredible increase of awareness,” Kelley-Siel said.

For example, agency rules encourage second medical opinions in cases where the children are younger than 6 or where kids are taking several psychiatric drugs at once.

Oregon House passes bill on foster kids’ medication
by Michelle Cole, The Oregonian
Wednesday June 17, 2009, 7:49 PM

Second opinions are required by law in Florida for foster children under 6.

Acting more quixotically than the Oregon House, an FDA panel voted for approval of 2 of the 3 drugs it was evaluating for use on children. 1 of the 2 drugs, the advisory committee suggested, should have only limited use, while the committee deadlocked regarding a 3rd.

BOSTON (MarketWatch) — An advisory panel of the Food and Drug Administration recommended late Wednesday that two leading antipsychotic medications, AstraZeneca PLC’s /quotes/comstock/13*!azn/quotes/nls/azn (AZN 44.68, +0.82, +1.87%) Seroquel and Eli Lilly & Co.s’ /quotes/comstock/13*!lly/quotes/nls/lly (LLY 33.71, -0.14, -0.41%) Zyprexa be approved for use in teenagers and certain children suffering from biopolar disorder or schizophrenia. The panel also advised that Zyprexa only be prescribed to patients who have failed to adequately respond to other medications because it has been associated with unhealthy weight gain in some users, according to The Wall Street Journal. The panel was split on whether to recommend the agency approve Pfizer Inc.’s /quotes/comstock/13*!pfe/quotes/nls/pfe (PFE 15.00, +0.08, +0.54%) Geodon for pediatric patients. All three drugs are currently approved for adult use. While the FDA is not bound to the decisions of its advisory panels, it generally follows them.

By Val Brickates Kennedy
Jun 11, 2009, 9:36 a.m. EST
FDA panel recommends psych drugs for teens

Obviously, given these conclusions, members of that FDA panel have financial ties to the drug companies. You can expect more health problems to develop in our children as a consequence of being prescribed these drugs.

Advising on Zyprexa use is, of course, nothing like real oversight, or anything that has teeth. Here, in a nutshell, is yet another reason why states must enact legislation to protect children in foster care.