View Full Version : Mass psychosis in the USA

Sam Lord
17-07-2011, 08:53 PM
A good article on how the pharmaceutical companies have hooked Americans on anti-psychotic drugs.

A savage indictment of capitalism in my opinion.

Has America become a nation of psychotics? You would certainly think so, based on the explosion in the use of antipsychotic medications. In 2008, with over $14 billion in sales, antipsychotics became the single top-selling therapeutic class of prescription drugs in the United States, surpassing drugs used to treat high cholesterol and acid reflux.

Once upon a time, antipsychotics were reserved for a relatively small number of patients with hard-core psychiatric diagnoses - primarily schizophrenia and bipolar disorder - to treat such symptoms as delusions, hallucinations, or formal thought disorder. Today, it seems, everyone is taking antipsychotics. Parents are told that their unruly kids are in fact bipolar, and in need of anti-psychotics, while old people with dementia are dosed, in large numbers, with drugs once reserved largely for schizophrenics. Americans with symptoms ranging from chronic depression to anxiety to insomnia are now being prescribed anti-psychotics at rates that seem to indicate a national mass psychosis.

In a recent article in The New York Review of Books, Angell deconstructs what she calls an apparent "raging epidemic of mental illness" among Americans. The use of psychoactive drugs—including both antidepressants and antipsychotics—has exploded, and if the new drugs are so effective, Angell points out, we should "expect the prevalence of mental illness to be declining, not rising." Instead, "the tally of those who are so disabled by mental disorders that they qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) increased nearly two and a half times between 1987 and 2007 - from one in 184 Americans to one in seventy-six. For children, the rise is even more startling - a thirty-five-fold increase in the same two decades. Mental illness is now the leading cause of disability in children. Under the tutelage of Big Pharma, we are "simply expanding the criteria for mental illness so that nearly everyone has one." Fugh-Berman agrees: In the age of aggressive drug marketing, she says, "Psychiatric diagnoses have expanded to include many perfectly normal people."


Captain Con O'Sullivan
17-07-2011, 09:10 PM
Yep. The prescription drugs epidemic in the US is huge. I recall reading that some two million women alone in the States in 2006 reported to their doctors with 'non-specific back pain' which resulted in prescriptions for mother's little helpers.

Two million. And when I was working in the states that fantastic local news reporter a cab driver replied when I joked about a lady ahead of us at the head of the queue at a red light who had failed to notice that the lights had turned green he said 'yeah, we often see it. They are moms zonked out on happy pills mostly. We call them Percodan Princesses'.

Zonked and on the road. I think it is a mixture of the pressures of life and escaping their measuring themselves against the consumerist American dream along with Big Pharma cashing in on social anxiety.

You gotta market yourself three hours a day, honey, I was informed by an American colleague. That must be quite tiring if one is not convinced that one is a commodity.

Captain Con O'Sullivan
17-07-2011, 09:16 PM
I think it all started with ADD and ADHD. I'll probably get howls of protest but in fairness it would be very easy to diagnose ADD and ADHD and other apparent behavioural or learning difficulties on a condition when in fact it might just be too much sugar in a kids diet- that is very likely in the states.

And of course it can't be discounted either than Junior doesn't conform to the picture book little angel Mom and Pop envisaged when they were setting out to make Junior and the pills make him conform more to their hopes for their well behaved if slightly unfocused child.

Its handy also if Junior has some kind of condition or at the very least an allergy. It makes him special and explains all bad behaviour and none of it is down to the parents, honey. It is a medical condition. Seductive little scenario ain't it? I've seen evidence of this in Ireland too with our little cash machine doctor's surgeries. Scrip, scrip, scrip, ching-ching.

Count Bobulescu
17-07-2011, 09:34 PM
Drugs manufactured in the US are often available at a lower price in Canada, and there is a healthy trade in cross border shopping back into the US. US pharma attempts to recover all their research costs from the US market. This allows them to undercut local or foreign competitors in other markets.


17-07-2011, 09:49 PM
I've lived in both the US and Canada. in fairness, I don't think it's all down to Big Pharma (although much of it undoubtedly is). I'm not sure I'd class society there as terribly healthy. People tend to live thousands of miles away from friends and relatives, especially if either middle class/educated, people drive everywhere and it is possible to get very isolated. What is worse, unlike the UK and Ireland, where consensus is given more of a premium, "getting it right" is rated above all. So there's huge pressure to get everything right at all costs, even if it means spending 16hrs a day at work, because the witch hunters are only 3 steps behind you. Very, very perfectionist, and very little tolerance of human error. Unfortunately, it doesn't always lead to greater efficiency; people are terrified of owning up to error and stuff gets shoved under the carpet, messes get compounded. So people go home, yell at their spouses, aim for the bottle or the pills, head for the therapist etc. As for the ADHD.... well, that's simple, kids don't get out to play unsupervised much and get driven everywhere; more gym/sports time would sort the problem, but no, that's not cheap and means higher taxes, so can't have that, can we???
And as for the "moral majority"....oh, don't start me. Vast gulf, often between what people present as their facade in public and what they get up to behind closed doors.

Commandment no. 1; don't get caught.....

Perhaps one of the most stressful things is to have people tell you to be positive all the time....no, sometimes it IS a good idea to have a good moan and get it off your chest. As we well know here (and in the UK, in fairness). Trying to wear a happy smiley face all the time is INCREDIBLY exhausting..... pass the Valium sandwiches there lads....

Or, go down the pub with a few mates and have a good moan....

Captain Con O'Sullivan
17-07-2011, 09:50 PM
I notice a lot of internet sales as well CB ... I saw a case there on Irish Central where some nut shot some people in a pharmacy when refused pills for his addicted wife. Think either he or she or both had Irish connections obviously.

I think kids are in danger from prescription for conditions which may not exist... you don't hear much about Prozac these days either I notice.

Count Bobulescu
18-07-2011, 06:59 AM
Mort, I don’t disagree with much of what you said, and I’m not going to parse your comments. I’ll offer this.

Almost no-one would dispute that the US healthcare system is both broken and inefficient, and can at the same time deliver top quality to those who can afford it. One reason costs are high, is that the average PCP, = GP, spends in excess of $100k per year on medical malpractice insurance. So, lawyers chasing doctors adds a cost component.

On top of that, Big Pharma is permitted to engage in direct to consumer advertizing. I only watch network tv for the Sunday morning political shows, and am struck by the amount of Pharma advertizing. It’s flooded with adverts ending in “call to actions” such as “ask your doctor if XYZ is right for you”. Who pays for those adverts? The consumer of course. Not to descend into sleaze, but my favorite adv is one for “Cialis” a Viagra alternative that’s been running for years. It ends with the disclaimer, “if you experience an “E” lasting more than four hours, please consult your doctor”……. Oh yeah, why would I do that?

Rightly or wrongly, it’s a fairly common complaint in the US that consumers here pay the full cost of drug development, so that Big Pharma can make extra profit overseas. Opponents of Big Pharma charge that US consumers are subsidizing the lower cost of US developed drugs overseas. Kinda like the US/European/ Nato military cost argument.

Captain Con O'Sullivan
18-07-2011, 10:03 AM
There is also the argument that Big Pharma cartels its prices in the west and blocks any attempt to sell medicines in the developing world at a lower price because they know it would seep back via parallel trading into the lucrative markets.

Thast why such a big concentration by Big Pharma on IP laws globally. I wouldn't mind but the FDA in the states has a bad habit of not insisting on proper testing either for Big Pharma products there.

How many branded medicines have had to be withdrawn over the last 30 years in the states and in the west generally when it was discovered they had unfortunate side effects? Smoking cessation drugs seem to be the latest.

18-07-2011, 01:59 PM
Anti-psychotic drugs also have the "bonus" effect of calming behaviour.
Therefore, the person's behaviour becomes more managable and is deemed to be "doing well". So they are left endlessly on these personality altering meds.

You don't have to look all the way to the U.S. either. There's been a recent report about people in Irish mental hospitals who are inexplicably on anti-psychotics without being diagnosed as psychotic.

I agree Captain, about diagnoses of ADD/ADHD.
Too many kids are given Ritalin without ample examination of their lifestyle or diet.

18-07-2011, 02:07 PM
Could someone inform me of the difference in regulation which prevent our parts from being similarly preyed on by pharmaceutical companies? I suppose cultural difference accounts for it in part ( I think psychiatry and doctors generally are treated with more suspicion in Ireland) but are there EU regulations to prevent direct advertising of prescription medicines to the public or something?

Captain Con O'Sullivan
18-07-2011, 02:16 PM
I don't think it is permitted in advertising regulations in the EU to advertise medicines.Yet, anyway.

I hope it never is because from what I saw in America is just seems to be the televisual equivalent of a quack turning up in a one horse town in the West and promising a better life if only you'd dose yourself with his product.

At the very least it encourages people to think being on medication is normal. If you are ill then yes. But if not then the problem isn't physical.

18-07-2011, 09:45 PM
Rightly or wrongly, it’s a fairly common complaint in the US that consumers here pay the full cost of drug development, so that Big Pharma can make extra profit overseas. Opponents of Big Pharma charge that US consumers are subsidizing the lower cost of US developed drugs overseas. Kinda like the US/European/ Nato military cost argument.

Tbh, they probably have a point. As a result of the increasing safety demands, drug dev now costs billions.

Which, of course, means that only drugs for common, chronic conditions are worth developing. Yep, they want you to keep taking the pills.

meanwhile, the buggie-wuggies are stealing a march on us. Antibiotics don't produce a big enough profit.

Needless to say, getting MRSA/VRSA/the nasty sort of E.coli, etc, is seriously unsafe. But hey, big pharma don't get blamed for deaths from illnesses they are unable to treat, so That's OK then...


Perhaps our excessive safety culture is making pharmaceutical treatment of disease, ironically, more and more UNSAFE.....

29-05-2012, 05:51 PM
From Sandra J. Tanenbaum’s “The Antidepressant Wars: A Fierce Debate That Ignores Patients” (Boston Review, May/June 2012) - The suffering of depressed people does not justify the misdeeds of the pharmaceutical industry, nor does it minimize the drugs’ deleterious effects on some patients. However, discussion of antidepressants’ value should not forget this suffering or imagine that it is insignificant or suspect. In my experience, antidepressants are neither happy pills nor placebos; they are the difference between life and living death.

Boston Review - The Antidepressant Wars (http://www.bostonreview.net/BR37.3/sandra_tanenbaum_antidepressants_psychiatry_cymbal ta.php)

Captain Con O'Sullivan
30-05-2012, 09:13 AM
One of those debates where anti-depressants will be justifiable for the one in ten which they stabilise and the other nine just want to feel happier or at least block depression.

They treat the symptoms but don't attend to the underlying cause of the depression. But hey, the pharma shareholders are happy and the doctors are getting paid. The fact that Mom and Junior are walking around with the 1,000 yard stare doesn't bother anyone.

Captain Con O'Sullivan
30-05-2012, 09:15 AM
I've always found it staggering that the US authorities can jail people for a third strike on being in possession of cannabis depending on where you are in the states yet they give prizes to pharmacy companies which are far more dangerous.

I wouldn't mind but we've seen all this before with the valium epidemic in the 1970s.

30-05-2012, 09:41 AM
Impact of non-medical use of prescription drugs on the society

Non-medical use of prescription drugs presents economic, societal, and personal burden, especially when the motive is abuse. In reviewing the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (DSM-IV) criteria for substance abuse (American Psychiatric Association, 2000), it is becomes evident how prescription drug abuse can lead to problems in health, domestic life, the workplace, and even with the law.

The monetary burden to society of non-medical use of prescription opioids in the United States was estimated at $9.5 billion for 2005; of this amount:
$2.6 billion were healthcare costs (including treatment),
$1.4 billion were criminal justice costs,
$4.6 billion were workplace costs (Birnbaum et al., 2006).

Birnbaum’s cost estimates of prescription drug abuse were very conservative due to data limitations; there are no current cost analyses of non-opioid prescription drugs (tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives) and OTC drugs (Baldasare, 2011).

Source (http://www.irishpsychiatry.ie/Libraries/Conferences_2011/forensic_essy_prize_winner_2011_web.sflb.ashx)

20-12-2012, 12:19 AM
A cure for dementia/Alzheimers?