Medicating children, truth about psychiatry, accepting pain can heal and some thoughts on pharma: Sunday news and blogs

  • Medicating Children: A “Whistleblower’s” Lawsuit Raises a Novel Legal QuestionRobert Whitaker, Psychology Today — In the past few years, a number of pharmaceutical companies have admitted to federal charges that they illegally marketed psychiatric medications for non-approved uses, with the companies paying large sums to settle the cases. Now, a legal complaint filed by the Law Project for Psychiatric Rights in an Alaskan federal court is raising a related question. When healthcare providers bill Medicaid for prescriptions of psychiatric drugs to children for non-approved uses, are they committing Medicaid fraud? — The case, United States ex-rel Law Project for Psychiatric Rights v. Matsutani, was unsealed earlier this year, and legal papers were recently filed that have brought this novel question — which obviously has profound implications for the prescribing of psychiatric medications to poor children and adolescents — into sharp focus.
  • Truth of Psychiatry Revealed: Psychiatrist blows the lid off the profession — Epoch Times — While I am a fan of certain aspects of orthodox medicine, overall it’s less effective and more hazardous than we generally imagine. As I wrote recently, there is some thought that less medicine can result in improved outcomes. There is certainly some evidence that less can be more, where conventional medical care is concerned. — One medical specialty that this may be often true of is psychiatry. This brand of medicine used to be a primarily talking therapy. But an ever-expanding medicine chest available to psychiatrists, particularly anti-depressants, has meant that psychiatry has become based on pharmaceutical approaches. — One of the problems is that many of the drugs used in psychiatry are not particularly effective. And these drugs are not without risk. Not only are side effects common, but the drugs can also lead to dependence, which can be difficult to break. — The psychiatric profession tends to enjoy a close and cozy relationship with the pharmaceutical industry, which jeopardizes proper clinical care. A 2005 article in the journal Psychiatric Bulletin highlights the major issues.
  • Why Accepting Pain May Heal You: An Interview with Christopher Germer, Ph.D. | Mindfulness and Psychotherapy — this idea is nothing new to me and I’ve practiced and preached this method for a long time. See here and here for examples on Beyond Meds that I love. From the article first linked: There’s a larger issue here, too, which rests on a core tenet of mindfulness and acceptance-based therapy: “What we resist, persists.” Resist sleeplessness and we’re likely to develop a case of insomnia, resist anxiety and we start ruminating or suffer from a panic attack, and resist grief and we’re eventually saddled with a case of depression. Even Sigmund Freud said, “A person should not strive to eliminate his complexes but to get into accord with them.” What we’re cultivating is a new relationship to what ails us—a relationship characterized by moment-to-moment awareness (mindfulness) and a kindly, accepting attitude (compassion). This relationship is less like “getting rid of” or “reducing” bad feelings and more like living safely and peacefully “in the midst of” what’s bothering us.

  • Curbing Drug-Company Abuses: Are Fines Enough? — Time Magazine — critics are starting to question these settlements, pointing out that even such large fines have yet to make a serious dent in recurring marketing abuses. AstraZeneca’s fine represented just 16.5% of revenue earned from Seroquel during the years its off-label marketing was ongoing — $8.6 billion in the U.S. between 2001 and 2006. Just how much of this was due to improper marketing is unclear, but considering the limited primary market and the widespread use of the drug, it was bound to have been significant.

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