Citizens Committee on Human Rights

The Mental Health Watchdog

Australian National Office

CCHR Documentary Warning About Psychiatric Drug Risks Wins Two Telly Awards

The Marketing of Madness: Are We All Insane? recognised for “social responsibility.”

maketing of madness dvdThe Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) documentary, The Marketing of Madness: Are We All Insane? received two Telly Bronze Awards, recognising its importance in raising awareness about psychotropic drug risks. It won awards for documentaries and “social responsibility.” The 13-chapter documentary exposes how pharmaceutical companies and psychiatric researchers have covered up debilitating and even fatal adverse drug effects, including suicide, diabetes, heart attacks, and strokes. Psychotropic drugs are estimated to cause 42,000 deaths worldwide. An estimated 2,000 of these were Australians under the age of 19 taking antidepressants and antipsychotics. 1 CCHR describes it as the definitive documentary about “informed consent rights” for mental health drugs; if GPs and consumers are better informed, deaths could be dramatically reduced, the group said.

The Telly Awards, with nominations from 50 countries, is a premier award honouring outstanding film and video productions and groundbreaking web commercials, videos and films. Winners represent the best work of the most respected advertising agencies, production companies, television stations, cable operators, and corporate video departments in the world.

The Marketing of Madness, which is translated into 15 languages, is sold publicly but as part of its public awareness campaign CCHR distributes hundreds of thousands of copies free to parents and community leaders.

As the documentary exposes, when patients are prescribed psychiatric drugs, it can turn into a lifetime prescription, and more profits to the manufacturers. Worldwide sales of these drugs have increased 30 percent from around $80 billion in 2006 to more than $104 billion today. In 2007/08, Australia spent over $700 million on psychiatric drugs.

More than 30,700 under 18 year olds were prescribed antidepressants in 2007-2008, including 550 aged 5 and under. Another 9,300 were given antipsychotics. PBS/RPBS spent $6.6 million on these drugs for this age group.

The documentary is timely in its critical exposure of psychiatry’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM), which already lists 374 disorders and is about to escalate with the 2012 release of its next edition, DSM-V. Proposed new disorders include Internet Addiction, Hoarding Disorder, Compulsive Shopping Disorder and for children, Temper Dysregulation Disorder (tantrums) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in Preschool Children (under the age of 6).

Pre-Drugging Youths

Teenagers could be at even greater risk if psychiatrists vote to include Psychosis Risk Syndrome (PRS) into DSM-V. Psychiatrists claim they can predict the onset of potential psychosis, requiring youths to be drugged with powerful antipsychotics before they’ve developed the disorder. Australia’s Patrick McGorry and-with heavy ties to the pharmaceutical industry-is addressing the American Psychiatric Association’s annual conference in New Orleans this month on PRS.

Dr. Allen Frances, DSM-IV chair, condemned the inclusion of PRS in DSM-V, telling Psychiatric News in March that it “would misidentify many teenagers who are not really at risk for psychosis,” “the treatment they would most often receive (atypical antipsychotic medication) has no proven efficacy, but it does have definite dangerous complications.” Frances says there’s a likelihood that “an astounding 9 in 10 individuals identified as ‘risk syndrome’ would not really be at risk for developing psychosis.”

Dr. Denise Kelley, a family physician interviewed in The Marketing of Madness, explains why: “There is no objective testing in psychiatry. There is no blood test. There is no urine test. There is no biopsy. There’s nothing that objectively proves that there’s anything physiologically or biochemically wrong that’s creating your symptoms.”

The free mass distribution of the documentary is aimed at not only helping individuals understand the risks of the drugs but also that there are non-invasive medical treatment or education options available to them.

“We are very aware that people can have serious problems in their life, but when they seek psychiatric treatment as a solution, they are often not told that unlike a medical diagnosis, a DSM diagnosis is not based on science, there are no tests to confirm any abnormality and the ‘medicines’ recommended to ‘treat’ it are not curing anything physical or correcting a chemical imbalance. Rather, they mask the problem which can prevent the person seeking legitimate medical care that could help-indeed, save their life,” CCHR’s executive director, Shelley Wilkins said.

To find out more about adverse drug reactions, visit CCHR’s landmark psychiatric drug side effects search engine at http://www.cchrint.org/psychdrugdangers/

For more than 40 years, CCHR, which was established by the Church of Scientology in 1969, has been in the forefront of campaigning for informed consent rights for psychiatric treatments. It has been responsible for helping to enact more than 150 laws worldwide protecting individuals from abusive or coercive mental health practices.

Contact: Shelley Wilkins,
Phone: (02) 9964 9844
Email the National CCHR Office : national@cchr.org.au

Additional Facts About the Conflicts of Interest Between Psychiatric-pharmaceutical Systems

Drug companies spent more than $30 million on hospitality for doctors at “educational” events in the last six months of 2007, according to a 2009 University of Newcastle study. 2

According to the study published in PLoS Medicine, there is substantial evidence that attendance at company-sponsored events influences prescribing practices. 3 According to another study published in the Medical Journal of Australia, “Attendance at sponsored conferences is associated with increased prescribing of the sponsor’s product.” 4

Psychiatry is among the top specialities taking pharmaceutical company funding for events in Australia (17.9%). 5 This is in keeping with U.S. Senate Finance Committee investigations of conflicts of interest and a New York Times investigation that determined psychiatrists make more money from pharmaceutical companies than any other specialty. 6

In the first half of 2008, Australian psychiatrists were the beneficiaries of 576 education events sponsored by the makers of the antipsychotics Risperdal, Zyprexa, Seroquel, Zeldox and Abilify. Eli Lilly, the maker of Zyprexa, sponsored 1,060 events for doctors and other health professionals and 320 for psychiatrists. 7

Spending on psychotropic drugs on the PBS has increased 663% since 1992-93 $82 million to $625 million in 2004) -three and a half times the rate of growth in overall PBS expenditure. 8 Since 1992/93, there was a 602% increase in spending on antidepressants by PBS since 1992/93, a 3,104% increase in spending on antipsychotics and a 1,871% on stimulants. 9

Mental illness advocacy groups often have financial ties to pharmaceutical companies, which provide indirect marketing for psychotropic drugs. Australian Prescriber reported: “Drug companies support programs and campaigns targeting a specific condition or disease and direct the public to phone lines or websites for help…this approach is not banned under the current Code of Conduct of Medicines Australia, as advertisements do not refer directly to the name of the product. 10

The practice is called disease branding or “Disease State Awareness” (DSA). A University of Wollongong study found DSA-self-regulated by the pharmaceutical industry-focuses on profit for the industry, as opposed to consumer and family health. 11 The researchers found that disease mongering created a “pill for every ill” mentality. Marketing is obfuscated as “educational information on medical conditions and the range of treatments” available. 12

Ray Moynihan and Alan Cassels, authors of Selling sickness: how the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies are turning us all into patient found from extensive research that “Partnering with patient groups has become a key element of marketing strategies for every major medical condition, with virtually every drug company.” 13 “With ADD, as with other conditions, company-funded consumer groups provide a service to their sponsors by helping to paint a picture of an undiagnosed medical disorder best treated with drugs and by giving a human face to the disorder.” 14

Major drug companies are principal sponsors of mental health advocacy groups, which critics say is a deliberate method to get around Australia’s ban on direct advertising to consumers. 15

“Disease awareness campaigns are a form of de facto direct-to-consumer advertising,” says Melissa Raven, adjunct lecturer in public health at Flinders University. 16

The pharmaceutical industry magazine Pharmaceutical Executive reported that partnering with advocacy groups helps drug companies to “diffuse industry critics by delivering positive messages about the healthcare contributions of pharma companies to legislators, the media, and other key stakeholders.” 17

British psychiatrist Joanne Moncrieff explains how this ultimately increases drug sales because only a biomedical approach is promoted: “Drug companies provide funds for pro drug patient and carer groups and address advertising or disease promotion campaigns to the general public…This influence has helped to create and reinforce a narrow biological approach to the explanation and treatment of mental disorders and has led to the exclusion of alternative” treatments. 18


References:

  1. Australian experts estimate less than 1% of detected Adverse Reactions are reported in Australia (Jon Jureidini, “Systematic checks can avert crisis from adverse drug reactions” The Australian, Apr 1-2. 2006). Documents from the Therapeutic Goods Administration by CCHR show there have been 20 deaths in children under 19 linked to antipsychotics and antidepressants.
  2. Leo Shanahan, “Drug firms splurge $31 million on doctors,” The Age, 28 Mar. 2008.
  3. Jane Robertson, Ray Moynihan et al, “Mandatory Disclosure of Pharmaceutical Industry-Funded Events for Health Professionals,” PLoS Medicine, 2009 November; 6(11): e1000128. Published online 2009 November 3. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1000128
  4. Kerry J. Breen, “The medical profession and the pharmaceutical industry: when will we open our eyes?” Medical Journal Australia, Vol 180, 19 Apr. 2004, pp: 409-410
  5. Jane Robertson, Ray Moynihan et al, “Mandatory Disclosure of Pharmaceutical Industry-Funded Events for Health Professionals,” PLoS Medicine, 2009 November; 6(11): e1000128.
  6. Published online 2009 November 3. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1000128
  7. Gardiner Harris, “Psychiatrists Top List in Drug Maker Gifts, New York Times, 27 June 2007.
  8. Essential Body – Bipolar Disorder in Children
  9. “Department of Health and Ageing (2007) National Mental Health Report 2007: Summary of Twelve Years of Reform in Australia’s Mental Health Services under the National Mental Health Strategy 1993-2005,” Commonwealth of Australia 2008 pages 24 and 163.
  10. “Department of Health and Ageing (2007) National Mental Health Report 2007: Summary of Twelve Years of Reform in Australia’s Mental Health Services under the National Mental Health Strategy 1993-2005,” Commonwealth of Australia 2008 page 168.
  11. “Australia needs to be watchful of direct-to-consumer advertising of medicines,” Australian Prescriber, 3 Feb. 2004.
  12. Danika V. Hall, Sandra C. Jones, “Direct-to-Consumer Branding of Prescription Medicines in Australia,” Centre for Health Behaviour and Communication Research, University of Wollongong,
  13. Danika V. Hall, Sandra C. Jones,“Direct-to-Consumer Branding of Prescription Medicines in Australia,” Centre for Health Behaviour and Communication Research, University of Wollongong,
  14. Ray Moynihan, Alan Cassels, Selling Sickness, (Nation Books, New York, 2005), p. 62.
  15. Ray Moynihan, Alan Cassels, Selling Sickness, (Nation Books, New York, 2005), p. 62.
  16. The Age – Mental Health Takes Industry Pills
  17. The Age – Mental Health Takes Industry Pills
  18. Teri Cox, “Forging Alliances Advocacy Partners,” Pharmaceutical Executive, 1 Sept. 2002.
  19. Joanne Moncrief, in a “Study of the Influence of the Pharmaceutical Industry on Academic and Practical Psychiatry,”.