NAMI’s Betrayal of Its Constituency

I’m on Vera Sharav’s mailing list and asked permission today to reprint what she sent out today. Thank you Vera.


NAMI’s Betrayal of Its Constituency — By Vera Sharav

A Catalyst for Public Debate: Promoting Openness, Full Disclosure, and

Senator Charles Grassley has hit the bull’s eye when he asked the NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) to submit financial documents showing where it gets its funding. The documents submitted to Sen. Grassley confirm that NAMI is a front organization for pharmaceutical companies who underwrite ¾ of NAMI donations—in 2006 to 2008 that was a hefty $23 million.

In return, NAMI devotes its efforts to help increase industry profits: NAMI promotes the most toxic drugs in pharmacopoeia to its ostensible constituents—the families of persons diagnosed with mental illness—disregarding the irrefutable, documented evidence of these very drugs’ propensity to induce debilitating, irreversible severe adverse effects.

See: Anatomy of an Epidemic by Robert Whitaker

Rather than putting its efforts on improving the quality of life with humane care for the mentally ill, NAMI has been instrumental in promoting the expanded use of toxic drugs even for use in children.

And NAMI has been instrumental in lobbying state and federal legislators for unrestricted use of these highly toxic drugs and increased taxpayer funding through Medicaid.

Documents have surfaced during the course of litigation indicating the extent to which NAMI cavorted with one or another drug maker, promoting their antipsychotic drugs.

For example, the case against Pfizer brought by states attorney general:

Pharmalot reported (Oct 23) that Jim Daily, NAMI Kentucky official, accepted money to be on the AstraZeneca consultant program to promote Seroquel: NAMI refers to AstraZeneca as “a strong effective partner. “The purpose of the Seroquel Consultant Program is to discuss ways that AstraZeneca can better partner with our consumer groups at the national, regional and local levels…” See, AstraZeneca letter to Daily

Furthermore, Mike Fitzpatrick, NAMI’s Executive Director, made presentations at an AstraZeneca meeting (2003) when he headed NAMI’s policy research institute. His presentation, Pharmalot reports, included details on the crisis in state budgets at the time, Medicaid funding and tips on building community coalitions – at state and local levels – to further support for using antipsychotics.

The agenda at the meeting included a discussion of MAP initiatives. MAP is an acronym for Medication Algorithm Project, a program that began in Texas as a means of determining when to prescribe psychotropic drugs – such as Seroquel and other antipsychotics – for people in state-run programs. However, MAP has drawn controversy as an alleged stalking horse for drug makers that simply want to boost prescriptions.
See here.

Beyond these questionable activities for a 501-C3 non-profit actively working to divert much needed Medicaid funds on behalf of corporate interests, the real crime is NAMI’s betrayal of the people it claims to represent.

How many families were persuaded by corporate-generated propaganda disseminated by NAMI (in return for “donations”) into urging their loved ones to ingest antipsychotic drugs—such as Risperdal, Zyprexa, Geodon, Seroquel, Abilify?

How many family members suffered catastrophic, drug-induced debilitating, irreversible harm as a result of false claims disseminated by NAMI about these drugs’ safety profile and benefits?

How many families buried loved ones who died as a result of a toxic drug reaction from the drugs promoted by NAMI?

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