CONTENTS NOVEMBER 28, 2000
Click. AUSTRALIA AND US SHRINKS COMPETE IN DRUGGING CHILDREN.
Click. PENTAGON INSPECTOR GENERAL'S REPORT FINDS DEUTCH BEHAVIOR "EGREGIOUS" (Link to the report.)
AUSTRALIA AND US SHRINKS COMPETE IN DRUGGING CHILDREN
From: Vera Hassner Sharav, President
CIRCARE: Citizens for Responsible Care & Research,
A Human Rights Organization
Tel. 212-595-8974 FAX: 212-595-9086
Although the incidence of schizophrenia among children under 12 "is almost nill" powerful drugs approved for schizophrenia, are being dispensed to young children in the U.S. and Australia--despite severe adverse side effects, and despite the absence of medical justification. In Australia, "At least 1,500 children under 13 had taken either risperidone or olanzapine, a quarter of them under nine." (front page article from the Sydney Herald, Nov 20 below)
In Los Angeles, an 11 year old boy, now locked up at Metropolitan Hospital, is a living example of how a child's health is being destroyed by prescribed psychotropic drugs in an institutional environment. [Cover story in the Los Angeles NEW TIMES, "A Terrible Thing to Waste," by Susan Goldsmith, Nov 16-22, 2000, (excerpt below)
full story: http://www.newtimesla.com/issues/2000-11-16/feature.html/page1.html ]
Johnny Mack Dixon has been labeled with various psychiatric diagnoses, such as bipolar disorder and childhood schizophrenia, and prescribed at least 15 psychotropic drugs.
According to New Times, the boy is being given "a combination of powerful psychiatric drugs by government doctors" which his relatives say makes him into a zombie. "He often drools, seems sleepy and disoriented much of the time, and urinates on himself at night. His face is covered with a drug-induced rash. In the last four years, he has been on at least 15 psychiatric medications, most of which have never been tested on children and some of which are not even approved for psychiatric purposes."
"According to Johnny's medical records, which New Times obtained, a county psychiatrist who is treating him believes he is severely mentally ill -- a danger to himself and others -- and needs heavy medication to keep his unpredictable and frightening mood swings in check. But outside mental-health experts who reviewed some of Johnny's records at New Times' request say he has deteriorated badly in county care and is the victim of a dangerous, four-year pharmaceutical onslaught."
"A horse couldn't function on the drugs this boy is on.... He's at risk for permanent neurological damage," says Dr. Peter Breggin, a Maryland psychiatrist who has authored several books about psychiatric medications, also known as psychotropics, and who heads the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology. "He's got two abusers: abuse at home and psychiatric drug abuse."
"According to medical records, the boy was diagnosed as suffering from attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder and bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression) shortly after arriving at Hillsides. It was then that he became the target of a veritable deluge of pharmaceuticals under the direction of a staff psychiatrist. It is not clear if some of Johnny's behavioral problems were exacerbated and others created by the powerful drugs he was given."
" Within weeks of his arrival, Johnny began taking a laundry list of medications, some of which were started, then stopped, then started again when he developed side effects including dizziness, nausea, lethargy, and body tremors. The staff psychiatrist put him on Tegretol, an anticonvulsant that acts as a mood stabilizer; Dexedrine, an amphetamine used to treat hyperactive children; and lithium, a powerful mood-altering agent. The psychiatrist also kept prescribing Depakote, an antimanic drug, which Johnny had been put on before arriving at Hillsides. Over the next several months, three different antipsychotic drugs were tried, and the boy was put on a second medication for mania."
" But instead of improving, Johnny deteriorated, which independent experts say was probably a response to his heavy drug regimen. He started washing his hands obsessively, sometimes 10 to 15 minutes per washing. He threw tantrums if he found a speck of dirt on his clothing, sat for hours repeating the same thing until he worked himself into a frenzy, and often refused to eat. According to notes in his records by a Hillsides staff member, the medications caused hand, head, and body tremors and other problems, including drooling, lethargy, nausea, dizziness, and rigidity in his hands. At one point, he was "too sleepy" to stand up."
"The staffer wrote that he "appears very lethargic, difficult to communicate with, attempted to set him upon edge of bed, he was shaky and tipped over."
"When contacted by New Times, the staff psychiatrist refused to comment on Johnny's care, citing state confidentiality laws. He also declined to comment on his general approach to medicating children. Because of Johnny's adverse reactions to the medications, another psychiatrist was brought in to review them. That doctor deemed the drugs appropriate. But the consulting psychiatrist recommended that the boy be hospitalized and switched to a different antipsychotic medication, since the one he was taking caused involuntary muscle contractions."
" In May 1998, Johnny was placed in a psychiatric unit at Las Encinas Hospital in Pasadena for six days. When he returned to Hillsides, he was put on yet another cocktail of medications, records show. By July 1998 -- 10 months after being sent to Hillsides -- Johnny had been on 11 different psychiatric drugs in various combinations."
"Those medications just made him talk incoherently.... He would drool and was sleepy all the time," Kathryn Winzer recalls from her visits with her grandson at Hillsides. "They had him looking like he was really crazy, and that wasn't right."
"Johnny's behavior became more bizarre. In the ensuing months, staffers noted that the little boy was doing alarming and dangerous things. He hallucinated, had delusions, stuffed a bedspread down his throat in an attempt to choke himself, pulled out some of his eyebrows, wet his fingers and stuck them in electrical sockets. He bit himself, and on one occasion declared "I want to die" and ran into the path of an approaching car. A Hillsides report last January said he was hearing voices, eating rocks and sand, had swallowed a toothpick, and had tried to poke his eye out with a fingernail......"
"The use of all these drugs is a psychiatric and medical assault on this child," says Dr. Fred A. Baughman, a pediatric neurologist from San Diego who has authored numerous articles decrying the absence of any scientific studies of child psychiatric disorders. He recently testified before a congressional subcommittee on the issue. "Psychiatry has no idea how one of these drugs affects a kid's brain, let alone a combination of them." ...
According to Ted Chabasinski, an attorney who is an employee of the state Office of Patients Rights, Metropolitan Hospital in Los Angeles "is a place that offers children nothing but "drugs and despair." Though it costs taxpayers $18,000 per year, per child, "It's a garbage dump for children where they are being loaded with drugs," says Chabasinski. Children are "locked up like maximum-security prisoners, whith their minds dulled with drugs for years on end, you see these kids, and they've just given up on life."
Front Page, Sydney Morning Herald © 20 November, 2000
Adult schizophrenia drugs used to calm nine-year-olds
By JULIE ROBOTHAM, Medical Writer
Powerful drugs recommended for use only in schizophrenic adults are being prescribed widely for Australian children as young as four, new figures show.
Schizophrenia is virtually unheard of in such young children and the revelation has raised fears of falsified diagnoses so that patients can receive the anti-psychotic drugs.
As well, the calming medications may be masking learning difficulties or abuse of the child, says Dr Jon Jureidini, head of the department of psychological medicine at the Women's and Children's Hospital in Adelaide.
Dr Jureidini disclosed the high prescription rate among children in a letter to the Medical Journal of Australia, to be published today.
Nearly 3,000 Health Insurance Commission approvals, each for six months' supply of the drugs, were granted in the year to May, he wrote. At least 1,500 children under 13 had taken either risperidone or olanzapine, a quarter of them under nine.
In NSW, the prescription rate for children aged nine to 12 was 60 per cent above the national average - with 33 approvals for every 10,000 children in the State.
These figures refer to prescriptions for schizophrenia subsidised under the Federal Health Department's Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
But the rate could be higher because the drugs can also be obtained through teaching hospitals and private prescription, for which there is no central record keeping.
"We don't know they're safe while the brain is still growing," Dr Jureidini wrote. "We don't know they're effective in children. Giving medication and calming someone down might mask other issues like learning difficulties or being abused."
The incidence of schizophrenia among children under 12 was "almost nil", which meant doctors must be falsifying their diagnoses.
Dr Jureidini got the data from the Health Insurance Commission, which administers the PBS, after he became concerned that pediatricians in privatepractice were prescribing the drugs to manage behaviour.
But pediatricians and child psychiatrists criticised his conclusions, saying they did nothing to help children with extreme behavioural difficulties.
"I have no qualms about using risperidone," said Dr Don Butler, a Sydney pediatrician. "If it was cheaper and didn't have this stigma I'd use it a lot more. These are children expelled from school, in homes or respite care, children with mental retardation or
A Sydney child psychiatrist who did not want to be named said he used very low doses of risperidone, which was "very, very useful for conduct disorders ... You get a window of opportunity to do remedial work with these children".
The president of the pediatrics division of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians, Dr Jill Sewell, said it was not unusual for doctors to prescribe drugs which had no specific recommendation for children. This was because drug companies avoided testing drugs on children.
Dr Sewell said she was surveying the prescriptions for children in order to develop national guidelines.
from the FAS Project on Government Secrecy © November 27, 2000
PENTAGON IG REPORT FINDS DEUTCH BEHAVIOR "EGREGIOUS"
A new report of the Department of Defense Inspector General (IG) finds that the conduct of former Deputy Secretary of Defense (and former Director of Central Intelligence) John M. Deutch with respect to the handling of classified information during and after his tenure at the Pentagon was "egregious."
The new IG report, dated August 28, follows a report on the Deutch matter from the CIA Inspector General that was issued last February. A parallel investigation was completed by the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board in May. And yet another inquiry was initiated by the Department of Justice which is still pending.
The new DOD IG report was first reported by Tony Capaccio of Bloomberg News and Defense Week.
The report focuses on the disposition of the various computers that were used by Deutch while he served at the Pentagon. Pentagon investigators criss-crossed the country looking for discarded computers that Deutch might have used, arriving at one point at a Mennonite School in Ephrata, Pennsylvania, where five computers and six loose hard drives were retrieved. (Only one of the hard drives at the school turned out to have DOD-related information on it but it was unclassified and, in any case,
unattributable to Dr. Deutch.)
The inspector general report does not provide a damage assessment, but specifically criticizes Deutch's storage of classified files on the computer used to access his AOL account. "Dr. Deutch's practice of using computers in this manner was extremely risky in that a computer 'hacker' could have gained on-line access to Dr. Deutch's computer and the information stored in temporary files on the hard drive."
The security violations committed by Deutch have frequently been compared to those committed by Wen Ho Lee to highlight the sharp discrepancy in the government's handling of the two cases.
But in several respects, the Deutch case bears closer comparison to that of Dr. Glenn Seaborg, the esteemed Nobel laureate who chaired the Atomic Energy Commission from 1961 to 1971, and who was accused by the Department of Energy in the 1980s and early 1990s of improperly storing classified information at his home.
Both the Deutch and Seaborg cases involved agency heads. Both men kept a daily diary in which classified information was found. And both stored their diaries and related records in unsecure facilities at their homes. (Seaborg's records were all hardcopy, however, and immune to hypothetical cyber-theft.)
The different outcomes of the two cases tell us something about the shift in the political climate that has taken place. The Seaborg case was handled with kid gloves. "Considerations of Dr. Seaborg's stature precluded more aggressive action," said one senior security official quaintly. Third parties consistently sided with Seaborg in his dispute with the Energy Department. Senator Moynihan even introduced legislation
that would have required DOE to declassify Dr. Seaborg's journal and return it to him. In contrast, Dr. Deutch has been roundly vilified and investigated over and over again. Roughly speaking, the Seaborg case is to the Deutch case what the Deutch case is to the Wen Ho Lee case. There is, in other words, a shifting and somewhat arbitrary double standard at work.
A copy of the new DoD Inspector General report may be found here: