Robinson, Leader correspondent
When members of the Illinois House
voted to pass the
Illinois Children’s Mental Health Act
in 2003, Rep. Mary
(D-Chicago, 31st Dist.] predicted, “I’m sure [the bill]
is gonna fly out of here, but I guarantee each and every last one of
you that this will be revisited.“
Flowers was one of only five representatives to vote against the
Flowers was right.
As Illinois prepares to become the first state to
implement President Bush’s New Freedom Commission on Mental
Health, controversy is brewing around the nation over its
“Orwellian” mandates, as one observer called them.
So far, only Internet sites are exploring the controversy, with
newfound information traveling throughout a nationwide network of
“intelligence” gatherers and disseminators on a daily basis.
The concerns are sweeping - over pharmaceutical influence on the
Food and Drug Administration and medical profession, over
lack of or faulty clinical trials, and over political corruption.
The Illinois Children’s Mental Health Partnership, charged
with putting the Children’s Mental Health Act into action and
overseeing its implementation, stated in its preliminary plan last
month it will “explore strategies for maximizing the purchase of
psychotropic drugs from the state Pharmacy at discount prices.”
In Pennsylvania, Dr. Stefan Kruszewski, a clinical professor
of psychiatry has filed a federal lawsuit against state officials
and six pharmaceutical companies, alleging they, “through the use of
political friendships, money and other emoluments, effectively
achieved a level of influence with Pennsylvania’s state government
that allowed them to abuse state finances and state citizens with
Kruszewski conducted medical reviews and appeals for the
Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare and was a
consultant for the Bureau of Program Integrity.
Kruszewski’s lawsuit “centers upon making money at the expense of
public finances through the improper use of state employees and
custodial populations including dependent children.”
Kruszewski charged the misuse of medications on innocent humans,
deaths of children under the care of the Pennsylvania Office of
Medical Assistance, and the improper adoption of drug company
On August 27, New York State Attorney General Eliot
Spitzer announced he had settled a major lawsuit against the
pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, which manufactures
the popular antidepressant, Paxil.
Spitzer charged that GSK committed fraud by hiding Paxil study
results that “not only failed to show any benefit for the drug in
children but demonstrated that children taking Paxil were more
likely to become suicidal than those taking a placebo,” according to
the August 26 New York Times.
The NFC recommends that states incorporate the Texas
Medication Algorithm Project, known as T-MAP, as a model to
follow. These are flowcharts prescribing the use of specific drugs
for specific mental illness diagnoses.
About T-MAP are questions of pharmaceutical influence among state
policy makers, the safety of antidepressants in children, the FDA
approval process, and program oversight.
According to the British Medical Journal, the Texas
project, which promotes only the newest, more expensive
antidepressants, began in 1995 “as an alliance of individuals from
the pharmaceutical industry, the University of Texas, and the
mental health and corrections systems of Texas. The project was
funded by a Robert Wood Johnson grant - and by several drug
The RWJ foundation funded the Illinois Children’s Mental Health
Task Force, which produced the report Illinois’ Children’s Mental
Health Act of 2003 is based on.
The BMJ ran the story that sparked the current
controversy by reporting the findings of Allen Jones, an
Investigator in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Office of
Inspector General, Bureau of Special Investigations, who had to
file a whistleblower report to preserve his rights to speak to the
Jones told the BMJ, "The same political/pharmaceutical alliance
that generated the Texas project was behind the recommendations of
the New Freedom Commission,” which, according to Jones’
whistleblower report, was "poised to consolidate the T-MAP effort
into a comprehensive national policy to treat mental illness with
expensive, patented medications of questionable benefit and deadly
side effects, and to force private insurers to pick up more of the
Meeting minutes of the NASMHPD Medical Directors Council in May
2002 list Illinois as one of eight states employing some degree of
medication algorithm activity.
Where T-Map is implemented fully, children in state care, prison
inmates, and patients in state mental hospitals are all subject to
the use of these algorithms.
In Illinois, “The same system, the Department of Children and
Family Services, that has given children - wards of the state -
psychotropic drugs, don’t know the consequences of their actions,”
said Flowers in objection to ICMHA.
“These are the same children who I’ve seen acting out simply
because they’re guilty of wanting to be returned home to their
parents, as opposed to being turned into the juvenile justice system
because they don’t want to be abused and misused,” said Flowers.
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