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Pinellas Schools Bar Suicide Test For Teenagers

By ADAM EMERSON, Tampa Tribune, Jan 26, 2005

LARGO – Pinellas County School Board members on Tuesday refused to subject students to suicide screenings, quashing any hope of introducing a controversial mental health plan in two of Florida’s largest school districts.

Board members took less than 30 minutes to reject a proposal to change a policy that prohibits surveys such as TeenScreen, a test designed to spot suicidal thoughts and other mental health disorders in youngsters.

Their decision met with applause from an audience of nearly 140 people, mostly members of the Church of Scientology, whose adherents have overwhelmed the board with e-mail expressing outrage over the proposal.

Linda Lerner was the only board member to support the proposal, and she accused her colleagues of flinching before the e-mail blitz, a gesture that drew shouts and murmurs from the audience.

Lerner called teen suicide “a real issue and a real problem, [and] this board is being stopped from even discussing it.”

Board members objected to Lerner’s comments. They cited unease over a screening they said was inappropriate for students. Some said the test questions are too intrusive, and it was unclear who would help students once problems were discovered.

David Shern, dean of the Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute at the University of South Florida, had asked the school board to change its policy and allow TeenScreen.

There is too much confusion about the program, which requires consent from parents and students, Shern said.

The board received e-mail from people who tried to derail the proposal by spreading erroneous information about TeenScreen, he said. “I am very disappointed.”

TeenScreen was developed by New York’s Columbia University and is used in 41 states. Students spend about 10 minutes answering 30 questions designed to gauge their mental health.

If therapists or psychologists find problems, they interview the teen and provide options for mental health services, if appropriate.

The Hillsborough County school district in recent months also considered the program.

Administrators, however, worried that there would be no long-term help for students without health insurance, and they found the test too intrusive.

The Pinellas school board has received more than 700 e-mail messages about TeenScreen. Most of them are from Scientologists who consider psychiatry and psychology abominations. Church members said all parents should worry about exposing their children to such testing.

Before this week, Pinellas school board member Jane Gallucci sought more information about the program.

She said Tuesday that she was angry that Laurie Flynn, of Columbia University, told a U.S. Senate committee on health and education matters 10 months ago that pilot TeenScreen programs were operating in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

Shern said Flynn meant only that mental health specialists and the school districts were working to develop the program in one Tampa high school and in one St. Petersburg high school. Flynn has sent a letter of apology to the Pinellas County School Board, Shern said.

For more information on TeenScreen, go to

Prozac: A class action lawsuit is filed in Montreal

MONTREAL, Jan. 14, CNW Telbec

A class action lawsuit was filed before the Superior Court in Montreal this morning. Giant drug maker Eli Lilly is alleged to have withheld vital information on the safety of Prozac, its flagship drug for years. Yesterday, the Indianapolis based drug maker completely vindicated the British Medical Journal, which it had charged earlier this week with misleading its readers, when it posted a document on its website called Annotations. Eli Lilly had been invited on numerous occasions to answer whether a document called Summary of a preliminary analysis of clusters of adverse events based on pooling data from multiple studies was authentic and whether it had been released to health authorities around the world.

Eli Lilly confirmed the authenticity of the document and implicitly admitted that it had never been released to health authorities, including the FDA, or anyone else. The document consisted of data stemming from numerous studies conducted by Eli Lilly and that showed that Prozac caused activation in 38% of its users compared with 19% with placebo and 4% for Tricyclic, a then well known drug in the treatment of depression.

When Eli Lilly representatives attended the FDA hearings on the safety of Prozac in 1991, they had known the existence of the study for years but failed to disclose it to the FDA, in the word of the lead plaintiff’s attorney, “lest it should warrant a much stringent warning on the label of the drug with regard to its safety, thereby seriously hampering Eli Lilly’s efforts to market its new drug as effective and safe.” In the words of Serge Petit of the law firm Petit Desjardins based in Montreal, Canada, that represents the lead plaintiff “such a likelihood was looming large since Eli Lilly knew that if doctors had been made aware that Prozac, back then being introduced as the new kid on the block, caused activation in 38% of its users compared with 19% of patients taking a placebo and 4% of those taking a drug then well known to doctors, Tricyclic, they would certainly have hesitated before prescribing Prozac. It was nearly a ten folds increase in activation compared with the other drug they could prescribe.”

The lead plaintiff contends that the reason why Eli Lilly failed to disclose the document to Health authorities was that it would have placed another study, that consisted of a pooling of what is called spontaneous reports and showed alarming increases in suicide attempts and other violent acts in patient using Prozac as compared with four other drugs, in a totally new perspective and prevent it from being dismissed by FDA and Eli Lilly as inconclusive. To Serge Petit “had the study on activation and the one on spontaneous reports been put side by side before the FDA, Eli Lilly would have faced an uphill battle as to the safety of its drug”.

The class action contends that Eli Lilly misled health authorities around the world and therefore the millions of users of its drug Prozac around the world as to the safety of its drug by failing to disclose the said document. To Serge Petit, “the passage of time cannot condone Eli Lilly’s behavior and it must be held accountable for circumventing the safeguards that have been put in place to protect the public health.” The lead plaintiff is seeking $10,000 in punitive damages and $5 000 for herself and each member of the group from Eli Lilly for misrepresenting the safety of its drug.

Papers indicate firm knew possible Prozac suicide risk

By Tom Watkins, CNN, Monday, January 3, 2005

(CNN) — An internal document purportedly from Eli Lilly and Co. made public Monday appears to show that the drug maker had data more than 15 years ago showing that patients on its antidepressant Prozac were far more likely to attempt suicide and show hostility than were patients on other antidepressants and that the company attempted to minimize public awareness of the side effects.

The document was provided to CNN by the office of Rep. Maurice Hinchey, D-New York, who has called for tightening FDA regulations on drug safety.

“The case demonstrates the need for Congress to mandate the complete disclosure of all clinical studies for FDA-approved drugs so that patients and their doctors, not the drug companies, decide whether the benefits of taking a certain medicine outweigh the risks,” he said.

The 1988 document indicated that 3.7 percent of patients attempted suicide while on the blockbuster drug, a rate more than 12 times that cited for any of four other commonly used antidepressants.

The document, which cited clinical trials of 14,198 patients on fluoxetine — the generic name for Prozac — also stated that 2.3 percent of users suffered psychotic depression while on the drug, more than double the next-highest rate of patients using another antidepressant.

In addition, the paper said that 1.6 percent of patients reported incidents of hostility — more than double the rate reported by patients on any of four other commonly used antidepressants.

The trials reviewed in the document said that 0.8 percent of users of Prozac reported causing an intentional injury — eight times the rate associated with any of the other antidepressants.

In the paper, titled “Activation and sedation in fluoxetine clinical trials,” the authors said that the drug may produce nervousness, anxiety, agitation or insomnia in 19 percent of patients, and sedation in 13 percent of patients.

The paper, apparently produced by the drug company’s marketing department, said “several suggestions may be helpful in presenting this information to physicians,” including emphasizing that more patients on another class of antidepressants stopped taking their drugs than did those on Prozac.

The existence of the document obtained by CNN and other documents was reported last week by the British Medical Journal. Its editors said the documents had been reported missing from a 10-year-old murder case, and that they had sent them to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for review.

A spokesman for Lilly said his company was expecting the release of the purported internal documents, but that he could not comment on them until he had seen them.

The journal said the documents disappeared in 1994, during the case of Joseph Wesbecker, a printing press operator who had killed eight people at his Louisville, Kentucky, workplace five years before, while taking fluoxetine. He then shot and killed himself.

Each of the four pages of the paper obtained by CNN is stamped “Confidential” and “Fentress,” the name of one of Wesbecker’s victims.

In a civil suit against Eli Lilly, victims’ relatives contended the company had long known about the side effects of fluoxetine, including its alleged role in increasing a user’s propensity to violence.

Lilly initially won the case, but was later forced to admit that it had made a secret settlement with the plaintiffs during the trial, which meant that the verdict was invalid, the journal said.

The FDA has recently warned that antidepressants can cause side effects such as agitation, panic attacks, insomnia and aggressiveness.

FDA spokeswoman Susan Cruzan said last week that the agency had no comment on the documents.

US drug company knew that ‘Prozac could lead to violence’

Rhiannon Edward, The Scotsman, Fri 31 Dec 2004

CONFIDENTIAL drug company documents appearing to suggest a link between a popular anti-depressant and suicide and violence have been handed to authorities in the United States, it emerged today.

The British Medical Journal (BMJ) received the documents concerning the drug fluoxetine (Prozac) from an anonymous source and has now turned them over to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The papers reportedly went missing during a lawsuit filed on behalf of victims of a workplace shooting carried out by Joseph Wesbecker in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1989.

Wesbecker, who had a long history of depression and had been put on Prozac a month before the shootings, killed eight people and injured 12 others before killing himself.

In 1994, some of the relatives of the victims brought a civil suit against Eli Lilly, the makers of Prozac, alleging the company had for years known about the side-effects – including the fact Prozac might increase violence.

Although the company won the case, it was later forced to admit it had made a secret settlement with the plaintiffs, making the verdict invalid.

The documents sent to the BMJ include reviews and memos indicating that Eli Lilly officials were aware in the 1980s that Prozac had troubling side-effects and sought to minimise their likely negative effect on prescribing, according to Jeanne Lenzer, writing in the journal. One of the documents, dated November 1988, reported that in clinical trials, Prozac could cause behavioural disturbances.

The FDA has recently issued a warning that anti-depressants can cause stimulatory side-effects such as agitation, panic attacks and aggressiveness.

Dr Richard Kapit, the administration’s clinical reviewer who approved Prozac, told the BMJ that he was not given the Lilly data. “These data are very important. If this report was done by Lilly or for Lilly, it was their responsibility to report it to us and to publish it,” he said.

The administration has agreed to review the documents passed on by the BMJ. The documents are now being reviewed by the office of Congressman Maurice Hinchey to determine whether Lilly withheld data.

“This is an alarming study,” Mr Hinchey said. “This case demonstrates the need for Congress to mandate the complete disclosure of all clinical studies for FDA-approved drugs so patients and their doctors, not drug companies, decide if the benefits of taking a certain medicine outweigh the risks.”

December 9th, 2004

ABC’s Primetime Live featured a 20 minute segment on a 2 year investigation that reveals evidence that drug makers suppressed information about how antidepressants can affect children and adolescents. Includes testimony by parents who testified to the FDA about the loss of their children to SSRI-induced suicide.

December 3rd 2004

President Bush signs into law the Prohibition on Mandatory Medication Amendment.

President Bush has now signed into law the reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act which includes the Prohibition on Mandatory MedicationAmendment. This amendment requires schools to implement policies that prohibit schoolchildren being forced onto psychiatric drugs as a requisite for their education.

Parents and teachers were not usually informed about documented side effects of many of these drugs, including suicide, violence, mania and psychosis and the new law bans school personnel from forcing parents to drug their children for classroom or behavioral problems.

October 15th 2004

US Orders New Warnings on Antidepressants for Kids

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – All antidepressants must come with tough warnings (Black Box labels) explaining that the drugs increase the chances of suicidal behavior in some children and teens, U.S. health officials said on Friday.

In an order to drug makers, the Food and Drug Administration said the information to be highlighted in a black box must also state whether the drug has, or has not been, cleared for use by children.

June 3rd 2004


OTTAWA – People of all ages who take newer antidepressant drugs may experience behavioural and emotional changes that may increase the risk of harming themselves or others, Health Canada warned Thursday.

The department strengthened its warning about Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) or Serotonin Noradrenalin Re-uptake Inhibitors (SNRIs).

The advisory applies to:

Bupropion (Wellbutrin and Zyban)

Citalopram (Celexa)

Fluoxetine (Prozac)

Fluvoxamine (Luvox)

Mirtazapine (Remeron)

Paroxetine (Paxil)

Sertraline (Zoloft)

Venlaflaxine (Effexor)

A small number of patients taking the drugs may feel worse instead of better, the advisory said.

Doctors, patients, families and other caregivers should be on the lookout for signs of suicidal thoughts or worsening depression, such as hostility, anxiety or insomnia, especially when a patient begins the drug therapy or whenever the dose is changed.

If someone feels worse, they should consult a doctor immediately. It is very important that patients do not stop taking their medication without first consulting a doctor, the advisory stressed.

In February, Health Canada advised patients under the age of 18 who were being treated with the SSRIs to consult a doctor.

Thursday’s stronger advisory is similar to a U.S. warning issued earlier this spring. Drug regulators in the U.K. have banned the use of most SSRIs in children.

Written by CBC News Online

June 2, 2004

New York Sues Maker of Antidepressant Drug Paxil


Filed at 12:59 p.m. ET

NEW YORK (AP) — GlaxoSmithKline PLC committed fraud by withholding negative information and misrepresenting data on prescribing its antidepressant Paxil to children, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

The lawsuit, filed in New York State Supreme Court, said Glaxo suppressed four studies that failed to demonstrate the drug was effective in treating children and adolescents and suggested a possible increase of suicidal thinking and acts.

It also said an internal 1999 Glaxo document showed that the company intended to “manage the dissemination of data in order to minimize any potential negative commercial impact.”

Glaxo spokeswoman Mary Anne Rhyne said the company “has acted responsibly in conducting the studies in pediatric patients and disseminating results. All of our studies have been made available to the (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) and regulators worldwide.”

Rhyne also said the studies referred to in the suit have been made public in medical meetings, journals and letters to doctors. She said the internal document referenced in the suit “is inaccurate and inconsistent with the facts, and doesn’t express the overall company position.”

The lawsuit touches on two pharmaceutical and medical controversies: whether antidepressants increase suicidal tendencies in children, and if drug companies should be required to disclose all studies they conduct on their medicines.

Paxil is not approved for use in children, but doctors can prescribe drugs as they see fit and routinely recommend antidepressants for children suffering from depression and other psychological disorders.

Only Prozac, which is made by Eli Lilly & Co., has been approved for use in children. According to Spitzer, Glaxo’s revenues for Paxil prescriptions in children and adolescents totaled $55 million in 2002.

The lawsuit seeks the return of all profits obtained by Glaxo as a result of conduct alleged in the suit.

Glaxo’s U.S. shares fell 94 cents, or 2.2 percent, to $41.83 in midday trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Over 4,000 doctors face charges in Italian drugs scandal

John Hooper in Rome and Heather Stewart
Thursday May 27, 2004
The Guardian

One of the biggest inquiries into marketing practices in the drugs industry ended yesterday with Italian police asking for almost 5,000 people to be put on trial, including more than 4,000 doctors and at least 273 employees of the British pharmaceuticals giant, GlaxoSmithKline. Some face up to five years in jail if tried and convicted.

Italy’s revenue guard, the Guardia di Finanza, said in a statement that GlaxoSmith- Kline and its predecessor firm had spent €228m (£152m) on “sweeteners” for doctors, chemists and others over four years. The alleged bribes ranged from cameras, computers and holidays to outright cash payments.

The Guardia di Finanza said GlaxoSmithKline “should be held responsible for corporate crime as its managers and other employees acted in the company’s interest”.

A spokesman for GSK said last night it had been “cooperating closely with the authorities to facilitate their investigations. GSK is committed to ensuring that all its business practices are of the highest standards and any breach of that is unacceptable”, the spokesman added.

But a British-based pharmaceuticals analyst said yesterday the type of activity the Italian authorities allege to have uncovered is common practice among global drug companies.

“In parts of Europe, these things are absolutely rife,” he said. “For example, doctors may be given ‘research grants’ – but there are no limits on how they can spend them.” He cited cases in which doctors had been offered cars or holidays as inducements to prescribe a particular brand.

Italy’s Adnkronos news agency reproduced what it said was a letter written by a GlaxoSmithKline district manager contained in the 10,000 pages of evidence assembled by the Guardia di Finanza.

The letter urged sales representatives to approach specialists directly to get them to prescribe a cancer drug produced by the company. “The initiative can work well with oncologists who have congresses, invest ments from us … and who have not given us anything in return,” the district manager was quoted as writing. Illicit incentives were said to have been disguised in the firm’s accounts under the headings of “field selling”, “other promotion” and “medical phase IV”.

Of the 4,713 people from all parts of Italy facing charges, 4,440 are doctors. They include more than 2,500 GPs and some 1,700 specialists.

The most serious accusations have been levelled at doctors, pharmacists and sales representatives alleged to have been involved in a programme intended to promote Hycamtin, a drug mainly used in the treatment of lung and ovarian cancers. In some cases, it is claimed, specialists received a pro rata cash payment based on the number of patients treated with the drug.

At a press conference yesterday, a senior revenue guard officer, Giovanni Mainolfi, estimated the investigation was costing GlaxoSmithKline’s Italian subsidiary €400m a year in lost sales


Friday, April 16, 2004

WASHINGTON (AP) — A House committee says it will investigate whether the Food and Drug Administration fully disclosed the disagreement among its scientists about whether antidepressants might be linked to suicide in children.

The FDA insists it is not clear whether the drugs have any link to suicidal behavior by children or teenagers, noting that depression itself can lead to suicide. An extensive agency investigation is under way; results are due this summer.

But at a Feb. 2 public meeting, FDA officials announced that some agency scientists believe a link already is proved, and presented the cases of possibly suicidal behavior.

At that meeting, the FDA’s scientific advisers concluded that such a link has not be proved. They said that until the issue is settled, parents need to be warned that the drugs may cause agitation, anxiety and hostility among patients unusually vulnerable to rare side effects.

Critics complain that the FDA scientist who told his bosses he was convinced of a link, Dr. Andrew Mosholder, has been muzzled. Mosholder attended that February meeting but did not discuss his conclusion.

In a letter to Congress that was released Thursday, the FDA offered an explanation: While his boss presented Mosholder’s data, top officials did not think Mosholder should argue the case was closed when that was not the agency’s position.

“Having Dr. Mosholder present his conclusion to the advisory committee, with the appearance that it was an agency determination … might lead patients who were actually benefiting from the use of these drugs to inappropriately discontinue therapy,” the FDA wrote the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Time to get it right

The agency has urged caution in prescribing adult antidepressants for children. In addition, bowing to pressure from families, the agency warned last month that patients of any age should be monitored closely for signs of suicide when they first start antidepressants or change a dose.

But members of Congress question whether the FDA has gone far enough. Rep. Joe Barton, the House committee chairman, promised further investigation.

“There are troubling questions of whether FDA supervisors inappropriately suppressed significant information that would have been of consequence to their own advisory committee, not to mention the public,” said Barton, R-Texas.

The FDA’s drug chief, Dr. Robert Temple, said it is not unusual for agency scientists to disagree. He said the agency’s advisers were given a clear picture of that disagreement and the data behind it.

“Nobody should think we’re shrinking from this — we raised it,” he said.

“We don’t want to scare people off drugs that may very well be useful. We don’t want to exonerate drugs if they really are increasing the risk,” Temple said. “We thought the investment of a few more months was worth it to get it right.”

Last spring, the FDA spotted puzzling side-effect reports in studies of the use of the drug Paxil by children.

The FDA ordered details from the makers of Paxil and other antidepressants, reports that mentioned possibly suicidal behavior. That led the FDA to warn doctors to use caution when prescribing the drugs for minors while the agency assessed the risk.

British health authorities went much further, saying that because only one drug, Prozac, has been proven to alleviate pediatric depression, others are unsuitable for depressed youth.


Feb 2, 2004

Strengthened warnings about the risk of suicide ideation and attempts with antidepressant medications in children should be communicated to physicians and consumers as soon as possible, a joint FDA advisory committee told the agency Feb. 2.

The warnings should be issued about the possible risk of suicidal behavior with antidepressants at the same time as FDA proceeds with a re-analysis of pediatric data from manufacturers to verify whether a signal seen with the drugs has a more definitive association, members of the joint committee said.

Warnings are needed in the interim to “elevate the level of concern and attention that practitioners use in prescribing” antidepressant medications, Psychopharmacologic Drugs Advisory Committee Chair Matthew Rudorfer, MD, National Institute of Mental Health, explained. The Psychopharm committee met with the Pediatric Subcommittee of the Anti-Infective Drugs Advisory Committee.

“We want to put a speed bump in the road,” Rudorfer said, so that the psychiatrists and non-psychiatric physicians who are prescribing antidepressants “take the medications more seriously.”

FDA’s preliminary review of summary data provided by antidepressant sponsors revealed a signal of increased risk of suicidality for paroxetine (GlaxoSmithKline’s Paxil), sertraline (Pfizer’s Zoloft), venlafaxine (Wyeth’s Effexor), and citalopram (Forest’s Celexa).

Lilly’s Prozac (fluoxetine) has not been associated with a similar signal and is the only selective serotonin inhibitor to be indicated for pediatric major depressive disorder. Pediatric studies for the other SSRIs have been negative or inconclusive concerning efficacy for depression in children.

FDA wants to further analyze the safety data after events reported from the manufacturers have been reclassified for suicidal behavior by an outside expert panel assembled by Columbia University.

Members of the FDA’s advisory committee said that the panel should not only look at suicidal behavior but also evidence of “activation” in patients on the drugs. Indications of activation could include increased agitation, aggression, akathisia (uncontrollable limb and body movements), confusion, and violence toward others.

The committee heard from 65 speakers during the meeting’s public hearing, many of whom were parents of children who had committed or attempted suicide or homicide after a short time on antidepressants. Many described severe behavioral changes in their children.

FDA expects to re-analyze the data by this summer and hold another advisory committee to discuss more definitive regulatory actions for the antidepressant class.


Wednesday December 10, 2003

Modern antidepressant drugs which have made billions for the pharmaceutical industry will be banned from use in children today because of evidence, suppressed for years, that they can cause young patients to become suicidal.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) told doctors last night not to prescribe all but one of the antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

The exception is Prozac, which is licensed for use in depressed children in the US. But the MHRA will warn that, at best, it helps only one child in 10.” – Sarah Boseley, Health Editor, The Guardian

Note: Eli Lilly’s new Prozac Fact Sheet (December 2003) sent to UK physicians – but not to US physicians – states that Prozac is NOT RECOMMENDED FOR CHILDREN for any indication.

In the United States as of 2003, seven states have passed laws prohibiting schools from coercing parents or expelling a student if his parents refused to put him on a psychiatric drug. A mother in New York fought to preserve this fundamental right of parents. After school psychologists and psychiatrists coerced Patricia Weathers to drug her 8-year-old son when he was diagnosed with ADHD, the child became withdrawn, could not eat or sleep and ran away from home. Recognizing that these problems started with the ADHD medications, Mrs. Weathers gradually withdrew her son from the drugs. Medical tests showed that he suffered from allergies and anemia, and when treated, his behavior problems disappeared. He is now drug-free and doing well. – House Government Reform Committee, U.S. Rep. Dan Burton, transcript of hearing, 26 Sept. 2002.


March 21 2003

A victory for parents’ rights was enacted when Senate Bill 208 in Utah was signed into law. As an amendment to the state’s Human Services Code and Judicial Code, it prohibits a state or peace officer or child welfare worker from being able to remove a minor from his or her school or home—with or without a warrant or court order—unless the minor’s parent or guardian consents. It also vacates (cancels or rescinds) prior law that permitted a child to be removed from a home for “educational neglect.” Nationally, scores of parents testified that school personnel have threatened to report them to Child Protective Services (CPS) for charges of educational neglect if they refuse to give their child psychiatric drugs as a requisite for being in school.

The abuse by Child Protective Services giving rise to these amendments in the law has contributed to children needlessly being removed from their homes or being permitted by parents to be drugged who allow such treatment only out of fear of losing their child. Parents who have fought to keep their children psychiatric drug free have had their rights brutally violated and had their children wrenched from their homes. When forcibly removed, children frequently end up in Foster Care, and the chances of them surviving this system without being prescribed the very drugs their parents fought to protect them from are grim.

In 2001, a Los Angeles Times investigation found that thousands of children in state foster or group homes were being administered powerful psychiatric drugs, mostly for the purpose of making the kids easier to manage. In LA County alone, dependency court judges approved requests to medicate 4,500 children per year.

The Miami Herald also reported that one in three Florida children in state care were prescribed psychotropic drugs. In their files were pre-signed, blank documents that provided “consent” for children to receive both medical treatments and psychotropic drugs. The files also showed that child protective service caseworkers routinely were allowed to provide consent for treatment and psychotropic drug use for children in their care—a violation of state law.

The Smiths of Michigan exemplify the threats being leveled at parents, and their often-tragic consequences. At seven, Matthew Smith was diagnosed through his school with “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder” (ADHD) because he “fidgeted ” and was “easily distracted.” Parents, Lawrence and Kelly, were warned that unless they agreed to put Matthew on a psychiatric drug, they could be criminally charged for neglecting his educational and emotional needs. The Smiths acceded to the pressure and lived under fear that Child Protective Services could remove their son from their home if they took him off the psychiatric drug. On March 21, 2000, while skateboarding, 14-year-old Matthew died suddenly from a heart attack. The coroner determined that Matthew’s heart showed clear signs of the small blood vessel damage caused by Ritalin and concluded that he had died from the long-term use of the stimulant.

In 1997, New York school psychologists and psychiatrists coerced Mrs. Patricia Weathers into drugging her 7-year-old son, Michael, after he was diagnosed with “ADHD.” Within six months, he was withdrawn, stopped socializing with children, started chewing pencils, lost his appetite and couldn’t sleep properly. He ran away from home. Mrs. Weathers withdrew Michael slowly off the drugs. Child Protective Services charged her with medical and educational neglect, despite medical tests having determined Michael suffered from untreated allergies and anemia. The charges were later dropped.

The Utah law should send a warning bell to all states that unlawful seizure of children by a state agency or agents, especially those with the power to force children onto powerful psychotropic drugs without their parent’s consent, or threaten to or act on that threat to remove a child from his or her home if parents refuse to put their child on psychiatric drugs, is simply unconstitutional.

The Utah law was prompted by a 2002 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decision (Roska vs. Petersen) where CPS had removed a child, without a warrant, from the home of a mother, Connie Roska, said to have a “mental disorder”—a “disorder” that is surrounded by controversy because there is no scientific evidence to substantiate it. The court ruled the action violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution. The court found that the seizure of her child violated a right to liberty in the family relationship between the parent and child.


April 2003

A Superior Court jury in Santa Clara County, California found psychiatrist Cecil Bradley civilly liable for failing to prevent a patient’s violent crime. For five years Dr. Bradley treated Bryan Christopher Vaca, who had a history of psychiatric troubles, substance abuse and an obsession with hurting and/or killing others with his vehicle. State regulations require doctors and mental health professionals to notify the Department of Motor Vehicles if their patients are incapable of driving safely, which Dr. Bradley failed to do. In 1997, Vaca followed through on his murderous impulses and deliberately ran over two men, killing one and causing severe injuries and brain damage to the other. The jury awarded more than $11 million to the man who survived the attack, ordering Dr. Bradley to pay $8.6 million of the award, after determining that he should be punished for failing to comply with the state regulations and for essentially not preventing Vaca’s crime. The court decision points to a major failing of psychiatry itself. In courts, case after case proves the inability of psychiatrists to predict acts of violence or dangerousness, yet they are constantly put in this position. Psychiatrists cannot predict dangerousness, which they, themselves, admit. Dr. Jeffrey Metzner, chair of the American Psychiatric Association committee on psychiatry and the law, stated,”Trying to predict dangerousness when a person is making general threats, the science just isn’t there.”

June 10, 2003

The UK government banned the use of the antidepressant Seroxat (Paxil) on children under 18, citing suicidal tendencies caused by the drug. Similar warnings were then issued by the appropriate agencies in Canada and the United States.


To see the numerous bills and resolutions now introduced or passed since 1999 go to

On a state level, fifteen states introduced 24 bills and/or resolutions in 2003. These were Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Texas, Vermont and West Virginia. Colorado enacted a law on June 5, 2003, requiring school boards to adopt a policy prohibiting school personnel from recommending or requiring the use of a psychotropic drug for any student.

To see more good news go to