Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Big Pharma and psychiatrists put children of the poor on drugs

From "The Illusions of Psychiatry," by Marcia Angell, The New York Review of Books:

"...The pharmaceutical industry influences psychiatrists to prescribe psychoactive drugs even for categories of patients in whom the drugs have not been found safe and effective. What should be of greatest concern for Americans is the astonishing rise in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness in children, sometimes as young as two years old. These children are often treated with drugs that were never approved by the FDA for use in this age group and have serious side effects. The apparent prevalence of  'juvenile bipolar disorder' jumped forty-fold between 1993 and 2004, and that of  'autism' increased from one in five hundred children to one in ninety over the same decade. Ten percent of ten-year-old boys now take daily stimulants for ADHD—'attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder'—and 500,000 children take antipsychotic drugs...

Growing numbers of for-profit firms specialize in helping poor families apply for SSI benefits. But to qualify nearly always requires that applicants, including children, be taking psychoactive drugs. According to a New York Times story, a Rutgers University study found that children from low-income families are four times as likely as privately insured children to receive antipsychotic medicines..."

Earlier post on the subject

Helmet debate: A reality check

In the wake of the death of SF cyclist Nancy Ho last week---she died from head injuries and wasn't wearing a helmet---the Examiner does a piece on the helmet debate---yes or no? As if on cue, a young cyclist in Pacifica who wasn't wearing a helmet dies in an accident

The Examiner talked to Leah Shahum:

Leah Shahum, executive director of the San Francisco Bike Coalition, said her organization promotes helmets through its bike education classes. On the organization’s website, the coalition recommends helmets for “that extra measure of confidence.” While she wears a helmet, Shahum said some members of the bike coalition’s executive team do not.

That's a reference to Andy Thornley, long-time SFBC officer, who doesn't wear a helmet:

I'm not interested in capitulating to public policy failures and conducting myself as if selfish careless violence was inevitable. I'm interested in helping you visualize what civilization looks like, and shaping our city to realize that vision, and I encourage you to join those of us working to establish a civilized society right here in our own neighborhoods.

Visualize world peace while you're at it, pal.

"Shahum...said that streetscape improvements---such as slowing traffic speeds and adding dedicated spaces for biking---are the most effective safety measure for cyclists."

But all the "streetscape improvements" in the world can't protect cyclists from drunk and/or negligent drivers---or from their own recklessness, which caused the two deaths mentioned above. Accidents will happen, especially when you consider that so many cycling accidents are "solo falls" that have nothing to do with other vehicles.

And fatalities? According to a New York City study (Bicycle Fatalities and Serious Injuries in New York City, 1996-2005) "Nearly all bicyclists who died (97%) were not wearing a helmet," and "Most fatal crashes (74%) involved a head injury."

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