The War OF Drugs?

Writing for Z Magazine–but here posted on AlterNet–Bruce Levine, a clinical psychologist, takes on the psychopharmaceutical-industrial complex:

Moody Is the New Bipolar

In Eugene Jarecki’s documentary film Why We Fight, about the U.S. military-industrial complex, U.S. foreign policy critic Chalmers Johnson states: “I guarantee you when war becomes that profitable, you are going to see more of it.” Similarly, as mental illness has become extremely profitable, we are seeing more of it.

On September 4, 2007, the New York Times reported, “The number of American children and adolescents treated for bipolar disorder increased 40-fold from 1994 to 2003 … Drug makers and company-sponsored psychiatrists have been encouraging doctors to look for the disorder.”

Not too long ago, a child who was irritable, moody, and distractible and who at times sounded grandiose or acted without regard for consequences was considered a “handful.” In the U.S. by the 1980s, that child was labeled with a “behavioral disorder” and today that child is being diagnosed as “bipolar” and “psychotic” — and prescribed expensive antipsychotic drugs. Bloomberg News, also on September 4, 2007, reported, “The expanded use of bipolar as a pediatric diagnosis has made children the fastest-growing part of the $11.5 billion U.S. market for antipsychotic drugs.”

Psychopathologizing young people is not the only reason for the dramatic rise in sales of such antipsychotics as Eli Lilly’s Zyprexa and Johnson & Johnson’s Risperdal (each, in recent years, grossing annually from $3 to $4 billion). Much of Big Pharma’s antipsychotic boon is attributable to generous U.S. government agencies, especially Medicaid. The Medicaid gravy train has been fueled by Big Pharma corruption so over-the-top that it has been the subject of recent media exposures. [full text]

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3 responses

  1. Utterly disgusting how “Big Pharma” has bought and bribed their way into control of the inappropriate and dangerous treatment of pseudo-mental illness with high priced medications. Sooner or later the public will come to understand how the almighty diminishing dollar has corrupted the practice of conventional medicine in this country. Its time for another Eisenhower to lash out at the dangers of the Medical-Pharmaceutical-Industrial complex.

  2. Eisenhower warned against it, but he wasn’t able to keep the military industrial complex from happening. Margaret Atwood does an impressive job in Oryx and Crake of imagining a dystopian future in which the pharmaceutical corporations more or less become the governing class, but her depiction will probably not do much to stop most people from becoming heavy consumers of pharmaceuticals, particularly as they grow older. Plus many drugs (not thinking psychiatric drugs but the full range of pharmaceuticals to treat all medical conditions) are life-prolonging, even as they have problems and side effects for some people.

  3. Not me, Kiersten. I’ll be 79 next month and I’m on zero Rx.

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