By Lea Yu on June 25, 2010
Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline has entered into confidential settlements with nearly 200 families who claimed that its antidepressant Paxil caused congenital birth defects.
Most of the claims alleged that babies born to mothers taking Paxil suffered heart defects. Last October, a suit filed on behalf of Lyam Kilker said he was born with three cardiac defects, including a hole between two chambers of his heart that disrupted the aorta.
Kilker’s case is the only one to have gone to trial, and a Philadelphia jury awarded Kilker’s family $2.5 million in compensatory damages. Plaintiffs argued that animal testing revealed potential problems with Paxil, but the company did not follow up with additional tests. A company memo introduced as evidence during the trial also revealed that Glaxo considered covering up any negative test results. “If neg, results can bury,” the 1997 memo said.
In 2005, the Food and Drug Administration warned doctors about a 35,000-person study that found that pregnant women on Paxil were twice as likely to have a child with defects than women taking other antidepressants.
The terms of the settlement will remain confidential. At least 600 Paxil birth defect cases have been filed, and up to 100 cases were settled prior to the settlement announced on Thursday. Paxil generates nearly $3 billion in annual sales
Government-mandated parity of mental and physical ailments for insurance coverage is a back-door route to nationalized health care. Special interests have been pushing government to implement parity for years and on January 29, the Obama Administration acquiesced. Health plans will henceforth be required to provide (not merely “offer”) mental-health benefits that contain no zingers, such as separate annual deductibles or lesser rates for psychiatrists and social workers. Instead, according to Andrew Sperling of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), health insurers will be obliged to give the same level of coverage for treatment of emotional angst “as they do for cancer, diabetes and heart disease.”
Mental health has morphed into a cottage industry with scores of advocating organizations and lobbyists — NAMI, the American Psychiatric Association, Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorders (CHADD), the National Education Association and, of course, pharmaceutical companies. Industry bigwigs have repeatedly insisted that mental-health issues are no different than physical illnesses. The problem is that one cannot verify a mental illness — not with an X-ray, a blood test, a urinalysis or by any other means. Unlike brain injuries, Alzheimer’s and other clear-cut brain impairments due to strokes, high fevers and birth defects, mental illness per se is purely subjective. Perhaps someday researchers will discover issues at the cellular level that definitively cause a certain subset of behaviors, or which exacerbate stress, but at the moment they cannot. So it is no wonder that the various medications and therapies directed at curing, or even alleviating, emotional distress have virtually no track record of success.
In fact, many are suspected of doing harm, as reflected in the increasing number of “black box” warning labels, both on drug packaging and in TV advertisements. Amazingly, the mental health industry has managed to exempt itself from charges of complicity and fraud. Worse, it has inserted itself into every aspect of our lives and repeated its claims to the point where they are viewed as unassailable — so much so that it actually fuels political-correctness. Unsurprisingly, the Obama Administration has failed to address the problem; seats on the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, a post-9/11 entity aimed at safeguarding Americans against politically motivated intrusiveness, remain unfilled.
Parents fear charges of negligence when they refuse to place toddlers on psychiatric cocktails; the criminal “justice” system recycles thousands of violent criminals back into society at the hands of mental health therapists; hundreds of thousands of citizens are left permanently harmed, thanks to the inevitable side-effects of psychotropic substances that fail to alleviate their symptoms anyway.
Nevertheless, advertisers hawk products that purportedly lessen emotional distress by increasing or blocking serotonin levels. But they never say how much serotonin is too much, how much is not enough, or how much is just right.
It’s enough to make one crazy; indeed, several therapies and drugs are doing just that! Psychotropic drugs are suspected of being complicit in suicides, hyper-aggressive acts and other bizarre behaviors that have recently rocked the nation.
(More on this later)