Sunday, June 27, 2004

If not a police state, then it's soma for everyone, especially the kids

I've been sitting on this story, only because I looked at the source documents and couldn't find the info right away. However, this thing is huge and it's probably in there somewhere. Hell, I'm going to put this story out anyway while I keep looking. I do believe BMJ is a fine medical journal.

So here's still another Texas experiment, which makes me think I should keep a closer eye on what goes in Texas.
A sweeping mental health initiative will be unveiled by President George W Bush in July. The plan promises to integrate mentally ill patients fully into the community by providing "services in the community, rather than institutions," according to a March 2004 progress report entitled New Freedom Initiative ( While some praise the plan's goals, others say it protects the profits of drug companies at the expense of the public.

Bush established the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health in April 2002 to conduct a "comprehensive study of the United States mental health service delivery system." The commission issued its recommendations in July 2003. Bush instructed more than 25 federal agencies to develop an implementation plan based on those recommendations.

The president's commission found that "despite their prevalence, mental disorders often go undiagnosed" and recommended comprehensive mental health screening for "consumers of all ages," including preschool children. According to the commission, "Each year, young children are expelled from preschools and childcare facilities for severely disruptive behaviours and emotional disorders." Schools, wrote the commission, are in a "key position" to screen the 52 million students and 6 million adults who work at the schools.

The commission also recommended "Linkage [of screening] with treatment and supports" including "state-of-the-art treatments" using "specific medications for specific conditions." The commission commended the Texas Medication Algorithm Project (TMAP) as a "model" medication treatment plan that "illustrates an evidence-based practice that results in better consumer outcomes."
It leads us to conclude that somewhere in Texas, we have families getting medical care only if they get fingerprinted and agree to take psychotropic medication. But let's not get complacent because I do believe this may soon be our reality, at least that of the non-ruling class.

If we might harbor hope that MD's might be our ally in this war, we find information that, horrors, drug companies really do pay off MDs.
The check for $10,000 arrived in the mail unsolicited. The doctor who received it from the drug maker Schering-Plough said it was made out to him personally in exchange for an attached "consulting" agreement that required nothing other than his commitment to prescribe the company's medicines. Two other physicians said in separate interviews that they, too, received checks unbidden from Schering-Plough, one of the world's biggest drug companies.

"I threw mine away," said the first doctor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of concern about being drawn into a federal inquiry into the matter.

Those checks and others, some of them said to be for six-figure sums, are under investigation by federal prosecutors in Boston as part of a broad government crackdown on the drug industry's marketing tactics. Just about every big global drug company — including Johnson & Johnson, Wyeth and Bristol-Myers Squibb — has disclosed in securities filings that it has received a federal subpoena, and most are juggling subpoenas stemming from several investigations.

The details of the Schering-Plough tactics, gleaned from interviews with 20 doctors, as well as industry executives and people close to the investigation, shed light on the shadowy system of financial lures that pharmaceutical companies have used to persuade physicians to favor their drugs.
Which would lead some people to think some physicians may not mind this mental health screening because the drug companies will keep them happy.