June 22, 2015
As reported in this column in 2013 and 2014, nearly all-mass murder suspects in the US share a common denominator — the shooters were using psychotropic drugs commonly prescribed for mental health problems. The South Carolina incident that claimed the lives of nine African Americans is no exception. Dylann Roof was reportedly abusing psychotropic drugs, something he was treated for most of his life, according to Breitbart News.
So, is Big Pharma to big to call-out? There are several examples to draw from and some trial evidence suggests these drugs can be very dangerous when doctors do not closely monitor patients. Most Americans have heard the numerous disclaimers announced during TV commercials that if you have feelings of suicide, want to harm to others, etc. call your doctor immediately.
The BBC reported that the top ten pharmaceuticals earned more than $400 billion in sales last year and that they spent nearly $100 billion in sales and marketing. Could those advertising dollars be more important to the media than exposing the risks to patients and society for the sake of prescription drug sales?
Psychotropic drugs – the missing element of the gun control debate
The horror of mass murder automatically cues lawmakers to seize the moment and seek responsibility in the object rather than the cause of the tragedy. Predictably, last week Uncle Joe chaired a panel to garner support for stricter firearms laws. Congressmen and mayors grandstanded in front of the cameras with promises to legislate guns from the collective national memory to make our schools and our country safer, but without offering any empirical data to support the rhetoric.
Meanwhile the common denominator of the horrific mass murderers is psychotropic drugs and mental health issues, but as usual, that is not something to discuss in public.
It’s estimated that more than 500,000 children are currently prescribed psychotropic medications to control depression, Attention Deficit Disorder and various other mental deficiencies. The “must have it now” generation would rather medicate children to control unacceptable behavior than address the underlying issues that may be causing the behavioral problems in the first place. Keeping this in mind, willing doctors and parents place children on known-brain altering drugs that contain numerous side effects warnings like “thoughts of depression and suicide, homicidal tendencies and violent mood swings.” Aren’t those side effects frazzled parents are seeking to prevent?
However, the real boogieman hiding behind the curtain is “Big Pharma” and it is smugly carting hundreds of billions of dollars to the bank. According to Medco, one in five Americans ingests psychiatric medication on a daily basis. And by the looks of it, the drug industry is creating life-long users and a permanent customer base.
Concerned American’s waiting for Congress to address the “Big Pharma” campaign to “un-depress” children and young adults may be waiting a long time as Big Pharma is curiously missing from any Capitol Hill discussions on mass violence. The topic has also been conspicuously absent from the television and print media. Why? Critics contend “Big Pharma” is a significant advertiser and literally pays the bills. Approximately $4 billion is spent in annual advertising by the pharmaceutical industry promoting anti-depressants, restless leg syndrome meds, and ED treatments. Also, doctors report that many of their patients come to their offices with a specific prescriptive drug request, which has drilled into their collective psyches by the relentless advertising of Big Pharma.
How much money does Big Pharma make? According to the Minnpost, pharmaceutical revenues have risen to $200.4 billion during 1995-2010. The lucrative pharmaceutical industry also provides investors with large profit margins. “Net profits after taxes consistently remain substantially higher than profits for all other Fortune 500 companies,” the Minnpost said.
Those figures ensure Big Pharma’s wheels inside Washington’s beltway are well greased by lobbyists’ paid $118 million per year to peddle pharmaceutical manufacturers’ products to contribution hungry politicians. A cynical person might contend the very lawmakers that are demanding American’s need to be disarmed are indirectly responsible for the string of mass shootings plaguing America today through their close ties to Big Pharma.
Experts estimate that the global pharmaceutical industry will surpass the $1 trillion mark next year. And with seven of the 12 largest drug manufacturers, Eli Lily, Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson, Abbot Laboratories, Wyeth, Merck, and Bristol-Meyers Squibb, based in the U.S., consumers can expect to see an avalanche of television and print advertisements to entice every hypochondriac into physicians’ offices.
A multitude of adverse effects among pediatric patients using psychiatric medications prompted the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to revise anti-depressant drug labeling practices. The revised labels now read: “an increased risk of suicidality (suicidal thinking and behavior) in children and adolescents being treated with these agents … and includes additional information about the results of pediatric studies.”
The FDA also informed manufacturers that it directed Big Pharma to include a Patient Medication Guide (MedGuide), to patients receiving the drugs in order to advise parents of the risks and precautions.
The FDA further asserts that; Antidepressants increase the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior (suicidality) in children and adolescents with MDD and other psychiatric disorders; Anyone considering the use of an antidepressant in a child or adolescent for any clinical use must balance the risk of increased suicidality with the clinical need; Patients who are started on therapy should be observed closely for clinical worsening, suicidality, or unusual changes in behavior; Families and caregivers should be advised to closely observe the patient and to communicate with the prescriber; and state whether the particular drug is approved for any pediatric indication (s) and, if so, which one(s).
Even the extreme warnings fail to deter users who are left with weak promises from the FDA that it would continue to work closely with the manufacturers of all approved antidepressant products to optimize safe use as well as implement any labeling changes and other safety communications in a timely manner.
Parents new to the idea of depression treatment should consult the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAML) website that addresses concerns regarding mental illness, appropriate treatment plans as well as support for minors and adults alike.
Mass killers and the prescription drugs they consume
Mass shootings at schools took center stage in 1999 when 12 students, a teacher and 24 others were killed or wounded in Columbine, Colorado. Eric Harris, architect of the massacre had therapeutic amounts of Luvox in his system, described as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs similar to anti-depressants, like Prozac, Paxil, and Zoloft. Fellow student Dylan Klebold (there are no toxicology reports confirming or refuting whether he had any drugs in his system) joined Harris on the horrific shooting rampage. In the end the young men took their own lives.
The manufacturer of Luvox, Solvay, formerly Abbott Labs and now Jazz Pharmaceuticals, Inc., concedes in short-term controlled clinical trials, four percent of children and young people consuming their anti-depressant developed symptoms of mania, a form of violence and were prone to mental derangement.
Jared Loughner, who murdered six people and critically injured former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords in Tucson, Arizona, received a life sentence instead of the death penalty when a team of psychiatrics determined the 22-year-old man suffered from schizophrenia. Coincidently, the prisoner is now consuming a variety of psychotropic drugs in jail.
Last summer the Aurora, CO movie theater shooter, James Holmes, illustrated another example of homicidal rage responsible for killing 12 and wounding 58 others. Reports explained the psychotically “brilliant” PhD student saw multiple psychiatrists and the exact psychotropic cocktail he was a consuming remains hidden from the public. However, in a rare demonstration of courage, his college mental health provider contacted college authorities about Holmes’ irrational behavior. Unfortunately, due to a possible misinterpretation of HIPPA laws, his condition went undisclosed to law enforcement.
Finally, the latest mass murderer, Adam Lanza of Newtown, CT is not an exception to the psychotropic rule, but consistently fits the pattern in killing 27 people (20 were first graders) before taking his own life. He was reportedly took prescribed medications for mental health issues stemming from years of emotional problems.
While the list of violent acts continues to grow, intriguingly the media fails to report most anti-depressant related act of violence. For a comprehensive list of 4,800 horrendous incidents tied to psychotropic drugs visit SSRI Stories.
To systematically investigate the symptoms of mass murder, all contributing factors must be analyzed and evaluated as to the proximate cause each contributes to such events. Guns are instruments, there can be little doubt of that, but any instrumentality in the hands of a determined killer with homicidal and suicidal thoughts manifested in violent action can achieve the desired result. Timothy McVeigh proved mass murderers do not have to use guns. Newtown can be the catalyst for a national awareness of all factors giving rise to violence and the options for redress, but not if we continue to air the tired old arguments about guns in a vacuum of evidence.
© Copyright 2015 Kimberly Dvorak All Rights Reserved.