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Drug Companies Still Peddling Risperdal and Zyprexa For Off-Label Use

By       Message Evelyn Pringle     Permalink
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According to Kelly O'Meara, author of the newly released book, Psyched Out, America has a drug problem. "It's not as covert as those illicit and illegal "Just Say No" drugs," she says, "but, rather, Americans have become drug users by way of being diagnosed as suffering from one or a number of alleged mental disorders."

"Sharing one's feelings with a doctor," she warns, "more often than not is all it takes to be diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder and prescribed a mind-altering drug to "treat" the disorder."

According to O'Meara, "scattered data from a variety of sources provide a shocking glimpse at not only the direction the drugging of America is heading, but also," she says, "the number of Americans being labeled as mentally ill."

One of the top classes of over-prescribed drugs are the new generation of atypicals antipsychotics that were adopted because of claims by drug makers that they were safer, more effective and produced fewer side effects than the older antipsychotics.

However, over the past several years, drug companies have been forced to admit to misleading the FDA, physicians, and consumers about the deadly side effects associated with these drugs including an increased risk of suicide.

According to Harvard trained psychiatrist, Dr Stefan Kruszewski, "the new generation of antipsychotics substantially increase the risk of obesity, diabetes type II, hypertension, cardiovascular complications, heart attacks and stroke. "

"The drug causes both a severe metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular problems, " he explains, "at the same time that they continue to cause neurological side effects like the older typical antipsychotics."

Dr Kruszewski says the drug makers knew of many of these side effects but withheld the data from the FDA. "So, what we have now are drugs, " he advises, "whose massive revenues and promotion are based upon faulty disclosures by the manufacturers. "
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The new drugs are far more expensive than the older antipsychotics. "A dose of haloperidol " Dr Kruszewski notes, "might sell for 6 pennies while Zyprexa might sell for over $6 per pill. "

Data unveiled March 2006 by investment firm CIBC World Markets verifies the massive amount of spending going for these drugs. CIBC found that in the previous 12 months, of the top 20 drugs by managed care spending, psychotropic drugs accounted for nearly 20%, or $13 billion. The drugs that made the list were Zyprexa ($2.6 billlion), Seroquel ($2.5 billion), Risperdal ($2.2 billion).

Atypicals were approved by the FDA for treatment of adult schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. None of the 6 drugs including Clozaril, Risperdal, Zyprexa, Seroquel, Abilify and Geodon are approved for the treatment of any other disorder in children or the elderly.

But nonetheless, they are being routinely prescribed to patients of all ages, in most cases off-label for uses not approved by the FDA and people are dying from their side effects at alarming rates.

Allen Jones, former investigator in the Pennsylvania Office of Inspector General Bureau of Special Investigations says: "My best effort at correlating dollars spent with deaths from drug side effects suggests that people may be dying from side effects from the schizophrenia drugs alone at the rate of at least one death for each one million dollars spent on these drugs. "
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Persons on atypicals have been found to commit suicide two to five times more frequently than the schizophrenic population in general. According to award winning author, Bob Whitaker, "researchers in Ireland reported in 2003 that since the introduction of the atypical antipsychotics, the death rate among people with schizophrenia has doubled."

In an August 2005 interview with Street Spirit, Whitaker said: "They have done death rates of people treated with standard neuroleptics and then they compare that with death rates of people treated with atypical antipsychotics, and it doubles. "

"In fact, " he said, "in their seven-year study, 25 of the 72 patients died."

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Evelyn Pringle is a columnist for OpEd News and investigative journalist focused on exposing corruption in government and corporate America.

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