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Bush Administration - Money, Politics & Drugs

Bush Administration - Money, Politics & Drugs


By Evelyn Pringle

A new plan by the Bush administration to test the nation's public school population for mental disorders and treat them with controversial drugs has raised an alarm among some medical science watchdogs and members of the mental health community, according to the June 27, 2004, New Standard.

Bush wants to launch a mental health and disability initiative that recommends the screening and treatment for students K-12 in public schools. The plan is based on a Texas program known as the “Texas Mental Health Parity.”

The Texas model has been implemented in other states, including Pennsylvania, where a government whistleblower, Allan Jones, has called it "a Trojan horse" for pharmaceutical companies. If enacted on a national level, the scheme would mandate widespread testing all across the country which would result in the recruitment of hundreds of thousands of new customers for the pharmaceutical Industry.

Jones was a state employee in Pennsylvania at the time the program was put into place there. He later became a Whistleblower and says, "the pharmaceutical industry has methodically compromised our political system at all levels and has systematically infiltrated the mental health service delivery system of this nation."

"They are poised to consolidate their grip, via the New Freedom Commission and the Texas Medication Algorithm Project," Jones says. "The pervasive manipulation of clinical trials, the non-reporting of negative trials and the cover-up of debilitating and deadly side effects render meaningful informed consent impossible by persons being treated with these drugs," he warns.

Jones believes that doctors and patients alike have been betrayed by the governmental entities and officials who are supposed to protect them, and I agree 100%.

I was outraged, as I was forced to watch Bush and the drug companies set up a scam to used senior citizens as funnels with the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill. But you can bet that I will not sit back and watch them implement their latest profiteering scheme when it involves drugging my grandkids.

They won't be satisfied until they have every kid in the country drugged. Despite the nearly 500% increase in the number of children being prescribed psychiatric drugs, the administration's, New Freedom Commission on Mental Health (NFC), claims that there are not enough children benefiting from mental health treatment and recommends mandatory screening for all high school students, with follow-up treatment as required.

If Bush has his way, the Texas Medication Algorithm Project (TMAP) will serve as a model for the upcoming nationwide program, according to the NFC.

The TMAP began in 1995, when a group of individuals from the pharmaceutical industry, joined up with officials from the Texas state university, and state mental health and corrections systems. The program’s initial funding included a $1.7 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; and off-shoot of the Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical company. Johnson & Johnson owns the drug companies Janssen Pharmaceutica and Janssen/Ortho McNeil, according to “Law Project For Psychiatric Rights,” by Jones.

Its more than obvious that the true goal of this group was to develop a program of drug treatment for use in the juvenile justice system, state foster care program, mental health hospitals, and prison systems, which would generate high volume sales of new expensive drugs. As Texas Governor, Bush supported legislation that required private industry to provide increased insurance coverage for mental health treatment and drugs.

The medication guidelines for the TMAP were established by an "expert consensus" based on the opinions of prescribers, rather than clinical studies. Nearly all of the major drug companies helped fund the scheme, including Eli Lilly, Janssen Pharmaceutica, Johnson & Johnson, Astrazeneca, Novartis, Janssen-Ortho-McNeil, GlaxoSmithKline, Abbott, Pfizer, Bristol Myers Squibb, Wyeth-Ayerst and Forrest Laboratories.

The drugs recommended by the "experts" for "first line treatment,” were the new drugs manufactured by the same companies that funded the scheme and included, Zyprexa, Paxil, Zoloft, Allerall, Risperdal, Seroqual, Depakote, Pozac, Celexa, Wellbutron, Zyban, Remeron, Serzone, Effexor, and Buspar.

The TMAP gave the pharmaceutical industry unlimited access to the Texas prison system, juvenile justice system, foster care program, and state mental health hospitals, by which to expand its customer base and increase the sale of over-priced drugs.

Next, Texas lawmakers passed legislation that would increase Medicaid coverage to persons who would not ordinarily qualify, and increased the state budget to provide funding to pay for drugs prescribed to people within the public systems.

As the Texas program spread to other states, the scam did not go unnoticed. A May, 2004 report by the New York Times, explained how drug companies were using new strategies to capture the Medicaid and Medicare markets that involved a "focus on a much smaller group of customers: state officials who oversee treatment for many people with serious mental illness. Those patients -- in mental hospitals, at mental health clinics and on Medicaid -- make states among the largest buyers of anti-psychotic drugs," the report noted.

By some accounts, between 1999 to 2003, antidepressant prescriptions for children in the US have increased over 500%, often with devastating results. For example, Paxil was one of the new miracle drugs recommended by the TCMAP “expert consensus” panel and prescribed to children even though it was basically untested.

Since then, the drug has been linked to a rising number of dangerous side effects in children, and lawsuits have listed it as a contributing factor in suicide, murder, debilitating injury and school shootings.

In June of 2003, the FDA finally issued a warning that Paxil should not be prescribed for children due to the alarming rise in suicides by children who were taking the drug.

Money, Politics & Drugs

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, in his 2 bids for the presidency, Bush has been the number one recipient of campaign donations from the pharmaceutical industry, in either party. The same Robert Wood Johnson IV, who has ties to the foundation mentioned above, and is also heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune, raised over $100,000 for Bush’s 2000 campaign, and over $200,000 for campaign 2004.

The next top recipients, were Congressman Mike Ferguson (R-NJ) and Senator John Burr (R-NC), each of whom sits on Energy and Commerce Subcommittees on Health, which oversee mental health and research, biomedical programs, food and drug policies, and Medicaid.

An obvious example of mixing drugs, money & politics, can be found with the drug, Zyprexa. It was one of the drugs recommended in the TMAP. With more than $4 billion in sales worldwide, in 2003, it was Eli Lilly’s top selling drug. In the US, for the most part, tax payers footed the bill for this drug. According to the New York Times, 70% of Zyprexa sales in this country in 2003, were paid for by programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

Its no secret that Eli Lilly has long-standing ties to the Bush administration. At one time, Bush Sr was a member of Lilly's board of directors, and the current President Bush made Lilly CEO, Sidney Taurel, a member of the Homeland Security Council.

In the 2000 election Lilly contributed over $1.5 million to political candidates, with over 80% going to Bush and the Republican Party.

In fact, looking at the total drug company donations during campaign 2004, Bush won by a land slide. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, by April, 2004, manufacturers of drugs and health products had contributed $764,274 to the Bush campaign via their employees and PACs, while Kerry had received six times less, or $149,400.

But $764,274 is but a drop in the bucket when you look at industry profits under Bush. "National sales of anti-psychotics reached $6.4 billion in 2002, making them the fourth-highest-selling class of drugs, behind cholesterol-lowering drugs, ulcer drugs and antidepressants, said IMS Health, a company that tracks drug sales," according to a report by Erica Goode in the May, 2003, New York Times.

In 2002, NDC Health, another watchdog company, determined that "more than 7.4 million prescriptions were written for Zyprexa and more than 7.6 million for Risperdal." Antidepressants and anti-psychotics now constitute two of the four top classes of drug sales.

The Pharmaceutical Industry should branch out into the gambling racket because it definitely knows a sure bet when it sees one.

*************

Evelyn Pringle is a columnist for Independent Media TV and an investigative journalist focused on exposing corruption in government.

To the millions of doctors, parents and patients who are affected, Jones offers this advice, PLEASE: suspend disbelief and realize you are on your own. Educate yourselves. The Internet has many sites that will help you. The Alliance for Human Research Protection, www.ahrp.org would be a good place to start.


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