I found this Bloomberg chart in the Metro Philly newspaper and thought it showed an interesting paradox. I tried to find a link for it on the Internet but as of yesterday, there was none.
a personal quest to discover, analyze, and question news and personal events relating to mental illness
I found this Bloomberg chart in the Metro Philly newspaper and thought it showed an interesting paradox. I tried to find a link for it on the Internet but as of yesterday, there was none.
My mother-in-law was telling me yesterday about how her hairdresser’s daughter has been diagnosed bipolar with OCD characteristics. She says her daughter’s on “Neo-something” – she couldn’t quite remember the name.
I racked my brain for a bipolar med name that began with “n.” Nothing really came to mind except for neurontin. I told myself, “No, that can’t be right. Isn’t that associated with VNS?”
Nope; Neurontin really is a medication associated with bipolar disorder. Neurontin’s generic name is gabapentin.
Continue reading “Neurontin: Pfizer and Eli Lilly share a common history”
Nearly every mental health blog I know is talking about this post from intueri.org. It’s definitely worth the read. I don’t know much about Abilify, but I don’t think most uneducated bipolars know that it is prescribed specifically for those with psychosis. On the flip side, I don’t think uneducated PCPs know that tidbit either. A person with bipolar without symptoms of psychosis who asks for Abilify may be in for a rude awakening. [UPDATE: Who paid this chick? I only skimmed the post but I don’t see any negative side effects listed.]
I’m not deep into the pharmaceutical industry like all of these heavyweights: CL Psych, PharmaGossip, and Furious Seasons, among many others whom I may have failed to mention. However, there’s a wealth of information to be found. My newest discovery:
“The approach is called ‘ethical pharmaceuticals,’ and it was unveiled on January 2 by Sunil Shaunak, professor of infectious diseases at Imperial College, and Steve Brocchini of the London School of Pharmacy, the Guardian reports. Their team of scientists in India and the UK, financed by the prestigious Wellcome with technical assistance from the UK government, have developed a method of making small but significant changes to the molecular structure of existing drugs, thereby transforming them into new products, circumventing the long-term patents used by the corporate giants of Big Pharma to keep prices – and profits – high. [emphasis mine] This will give the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people access to life-saving medicines – now priced out of reach – for mere pennies.”
I read the above on CLPsych’s blog (originally from Chris Floyd at truthout) and couldn’t believe what I was reading. It somewhat ties into what I’ve been researching about Neurontin (which will probably be posted later in the day):
“Pfizer has developed a successor to gabapentin [Neurontin’s generic name], called pregabalin (being marketed as Lyrica®). Structurally related to gabapentin [emphasis mine], pregabalin is effective for neuropathic pain associated with diabetes and shingles, and for the treatment of epilepsy and seizures.”
Pfizer, in an attempt to distance itself from the trouble surrounding Neurontin, developed another medicine – pregabalin, which is similarly structured to gabapentin. Pfizer can now claim, “Don’t like Neurontin? You can have Lyrica instead!” Pfizer also tried to pass off the (illegal) off-label marketing practices with Neurontin off to their acquired division Parke-Davis. So now we’ve got two options: Pfizer either has learned from Parke-Davis’ issues with Neurontin or is pretty stupid and pushing Lyrica for off-label usage similar to that of Neurontin’s. No evidence to support either option… yet. But CLPsych delves into an interesting practice that Pharma companies use to circumvent a drug patent running out:
“News Flash — PhRMA does NOT believe in the free market: While PhRMA likes when the market works in their favor, they also believe in circumventing that same market when it comes to competition. When drugs are slated to come off-patent, which would allow generic version of the drug to be made, PhRMA members have increasingly turned to buying off the competition. That’s right; they simply pay the generic manufacturer to not make a generic version of the patented drug, so that the consumer can continue to pay a hefty price for the drug which is still under patent. [emphasis sorta mine]“
Wow. That bit of information has left me speechless. Screw the consumer that can’t afford psych meds without health insurance; we as Big Pharma need our DAMN money!!! [end rant]
This practice, called “reverse payments,” is not something new and, at the current moment, is relatively legal. Supposedly, the FTC and the Department of Justice are keeping their eyes on reverse payments and patients can only imagine what might occur in the future. PharmaGossip has more, but slips this bit of info before linking to the Star-Ledger:
“And with the patents on 70 blockbuster drugs — with a total of $48 billion in annual sales — set to expire by 2011, the industry expects reverse-payment deals to proliferate further.”
The FTC and Justice Department better hurry up and step in so we can finally have a generic version of Lipitor!
In all honesty, my mind can’t simply fathom the depths to which Pharma will stoop to make money. (Perhaps because I don’t work directly within the medical industry.) It has me wondering if Pharma is worse than gas companies. Is OPEC more trustworthy than Eli Lilly? I’ll leave it up to you to decide.
Yay for the New York Times! Alex Berenson, doggedly keeping up on the Zyprexa story, has written an article about how state prosecutors in Vermont and Illinois are now demanding that Eli Lilly submits documents to them about their marketing practices of Zyprexa. Something I didn’t know:
“Federal prosecutors in Philadelphia have also recently accelerated their own investigation into Lilly’s marketing of Zyprexa.”
My residence in the Philly area has prompted me to follow this closely now. More juicy information:
“In a statement yesterday, Lilly said it would cooperate with the investigations and had done nothing wrong. ‘We intend to cooperate with the Illinois attorney general’s civil investigative demand relating to Zyprexa,’ the company said.
While the investigation being led by Illinois is civil, other investigations into Lilly’s conduct are both civil and criminal. [emphasis mine] Attorneys general in California and Florida may seek to recover Medicaid payments that the states made for Zyprexa. Any fine or cost recovery could be sizable, because Zyprexa has been a commercial success.”
Because investigators need to search through more than 10,000 documents relating to Zyprexa and its marketing and talk to former and current employees about the matter, it could take years for anything to happen. Berenson’s last paragraph at the end brought my excitement to a quick halt:
“As long as drug makers comply with federal requirements to provide data about their products to the Food and Drug Administration, companies have a relatively strong defense against criminal prosecution, according to lawyers who are experts in drug marketing.”
Great. So as long as Lilly complies with the FDA and state and federal prosecutors, they can escape criminal prosecution. Please don’t tell families who have loved ones who died over this medication. Lilly’s settlements are nice and all, but money is never restitution for someone’s death. I’ll soon have a post up about how Pfizer had this issue with Neurontin from 2002-2004. They, too, had to pay more than $430 million to settle lawsuits on civil and criminal charges. Pfizer plead guilty; let’s see if Eli Lilly follow suit (no pun intended).
I’ve been a little late on the bus with this, but I’ve previously written about Andre Waters who killed himself in November. Despite theories of depression surrounding his suicide, a neurologist has claimed that Waters sustained brain damage from playing football which triggered his depression and led to his death. Dr. Bennet Omalu, an expert in forensic pathology, says that Water’s brain tissue “had degenerated into that of an 85-year-old man with similar characteristics as those of early-stage Alzheimer’s victims.” Omalu gets pretty grim though:
“If [Waters] had lived, within 10 or 15 years ‘Andre Waters would have been fully incapacitated.'”
The NFL has no comment.
As I’ve been trying to tell my husband recently, pets can relieve symptoms of depression. Come on, who can be sad when you’ve got an happy little dog wagging its tail at you with bundles of love? (I’m thinking cute little Yorkies or friendly Golden Retrievers.) Owning a pet can have great mental health benefits:
The only downside: animals can cause stress. But it seems like the stressors can be addressed, i.e. animal training, neutering. (source: The Trouble With Spikol)
Also linked to by Liz Spikol, another interesting mental illness combatant: sports therapy. It seems that it can help those suffering from PTSD, abuse, amnesia, and shyness. Italian doctors, however, a testing to see if soccer can treat illnesses like depression and schizophrenia. This should be interesting.
Oh, and NOTHING to do with mental illness, but I found this NYT article on weight loss and maintaining it quite interesting.
Looks like Weinstein might redeem himself:
"The judge is asking Eli Lilly’s lawyers to now justify why the court documents that slipped out into the world last month should continue to come under the court’s seal. Good call by the judge."
Ooh, this should be interesting. (Furious Seasons)
Starting off with some crazy (npi) mental health news, psychotherapists are now beginning to diagnose depression and anxiety in – infants. Yes, infants. Before you know it, newborns will begin suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder after enduring complications during delivery. Fetuses will suffer from depression due to lack of exposure to light.
I’m all for diagnosing mental illness in children, but infant depression? Unless it’s mistreated, the concept is ridiculous.
“He says he doesn’t put babies on the couch. Instead, he observed Jayda through a one way mirror. He was looking for clues on why she wouldn’t bond with her mother, Kari Garza.”
“Psychologist Douglas Goldsmith says ‘even by the first birthday, some of the research is saying we should be able to start to see signs of more serious social disorders.’
There are some warning signs to look out for, such as a lack interest in sights and sounds. Others include of lack of desire to interact; listlessness; or excessive crying.”
I can’t help but think it’s rooted in a physical rather than a mental problem. I excessively cried for six months as an infant; no knew that I’d developed eczema and the itching was unbearable because I wasn’t able scratch.
“Figuring out what’s depression versus normal behavior is hard, according Pediatrician Linda Nelson of the Franciscan Children’s Hospital, because ‘the crankiness and all of that, teasing that out from true depression, it’s very difficult.'”
“I may be way off the mark on this one, but if Iâm not mistaken, an infantâs cognitive abilities are incredibly limited and, for the most part, are dictated entirely by instinctual behaviors. It seems that it would be impossible to determine if an infant had depression or anxiety because itâs impossible to ask them.”
Nope, not off the mark at all.
Want to know what dealing with a bipolar is like? The following is dead on:
“Bipolar is a hell of a disease, and I wonder if patients [at my community health center job] knew how devastating it is, whether they’d choose to label themselves that way.
Bipolar used to be called manic-depression. People with bipolar disorder are constantly on a roller coast ride between severe depression and mania. On the depressed end, this can include feelings of worthlessness, excessive guilt, changes in eating (over- or under-), changes in sleep patterns (can’t go to sleep or can’t wake up), and recurrent thoughts of death.
On the manic end, bipolar people experience feelings of grandiosity, believing they’re capable of things nobody can do. At this end of the spectrum they often sleep very little, their thoughts race, and they can’t stop talking. They tend to get involved in risky activities, such as unrestrained buying sprees, sexual indiscretions, or foolish business investments. Some feel more angry than expansive in their manic phase, or when they’re on their way up or down.”
Congrats. You get the gold star. You’ve just learned something today (if you’re not bipolar).
I recently read Graham’s Blog and among a list of meds, I saw “Zispin.”
It’s trademarked as Remeron in the U.S. and Zispin in Great Britain. The generic name is mirtazapine. Sounds like a name for a German lady – Fraulein Mirtazapine.
According to the wonderful wikipedia, mirta treats “mild to severe” depression.” That’s a wide spectrum of patients to cover. Mirta is as effective for people with mild depression as it is for those who are dang near suicidal everyday? I’m not convinced.
Of course, since it’s a med, it’s used off-label for panic disorder, GAC, OCD, and PTSD among other health problems.
If you’re you suffer from bipolar and get a prescription for this stuff, get another doctor quick: mania is a side effect.
I won’t get into the fine details of how mirta works, but it appears that it enhances neurotransmitter actions rather than affect serotonin levels directly.
There’s my new medication lesson of the day.
I’m late on the bandwagon, here. I’m sure Furious Seasons, CL Psych, and other blogs have railed on the injustice of Judge Weinstein’s stupid – yes, it is stupid – decision to uphold his gag order (he imposed it so why would he change it?) that keeps blogs from “dissemination” Eli Lilly’s leaked documents. Basically, the judge wants to block wiki Zyprexa Kills from showing this info. Any other blog that has the documents, links to it, or publishes it is â well â subject to a gag order as well. *gag*
I have a personal opinion on the matter and since you’re reading this blog, you’ll be subjected to it.
Yeah – the copy editor in me wants to try “Loose Screws News.” For now.
Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry is among many of my favorite blogs to read. In this particular post, he rips on Eli Lilly’s zyprexafacts.com, which was set up in response to NYT articles that alleged Lilly drug reps pushed Zyprexa to physicians for off-label uses. I hope to just have a stupid ol’ time and rip on each Eli Lilly press release in response to each NYT article, but we’ll see what happens. I’ve already got one lined up with notes scribbled on the printout; I just need to transfer it into electronic form. (Oh, the joys of being a transit commuter.)
Liz Spikol linked to an article originally published in bp magazine about how difficult marriages are when one spouse suffers from bipolar disorder. The saddest statistic I’ve ever read:
“In the United States and Canada, at least 40 percent of all marriages fail. But the statistics for marriages involving a person who has bipolar disorder are especially sobering—an estimated 90 percent of these end in divorce, according to a November 2003 article, ‘Managing Bipolar Disorder,’ in Psychology Today.”
Um, joy considering that I’m I suffer from bipolar and have been married for just over a year now. This strikes incredible fear in my heart. It’s not that we don’t love and care for each other, but I can only imagine how much a spouse who doesn’t suffer from bipd can take. I hate to say it, but I keep waiting for my husband to walk out on me. Not because I’m pessimistic (OK, I am, but that’s beside the point), but because I fear that he’ll reach a point where he’ll say, “I can’t take anymore of this! I’ve dealt with this for 10 years and nothing’s changed, nothing’s getting better. I’m sorry, but I can’t be married to you and deal with this anymore.” Just waiting.
Retarded celebrity story of the day: Kelly Osborne suffers from depression because she’s so privileged. But hey! — she’ll pose for Playboy and get photoshopped so she can feel better. *gags*
If you’re mentally ill and fired for it, don’t bother suing. It looks like the mentally ill don’t have a case unless there’s a physical illness to somehow “prove” it:
“Sixteen years after Congress enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), people with psychiatric disabilities are faring worse in court cases against employers for discrimination than are people with physical disabilities, researchers have found in a national study.
‘People with psychiatric disabilities were less likely to receive a monetary award or job-related benefit, more likely to feel as though they were not treated fairly during the legal proceedings and more likely to believe they received less respect in court,’ said Jeffrey Swanson, Ph.D., a study investigator and an associate professor of psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center.”
I’m not sure how to solve this problem. Psychiatric disabilities are less tangible and harder to prove than a physical disability. It’s easier to wage war against a company if you suffer from a bad back vs. if you suffer from depression. (Whether or not the bad back is a fictional illness is up to you.)
Another oy moment. (The Long Islander in me is coming back full force.) Got a pet that’s misbehaving? Put him or her on an antidepressant. Double oy.
New Zealand is being introduced to lamotrigine (trade name Lamictal in the U.S.). Good luck, bipolar New Zealanders. Best wishes.
And finally, a study has discovered that about half of patients who suffer from some kind of severe burn suffer from clinical depression. (Shouldn’t someone diagnose this as PTSD? That’s pretty traumatic, if you ask me.) While the finding isn’t surprising, the study highlights the need not only to treat the physical ailment, but also to address the mental healing necessary to overcome stress from the injury.
In a stunning move by Eli Lilly, yesterday they agreed to pay $500 milion to settle lawsuits from 18,000 people who said they'd developed diabetes among other health problem on Zyprexa.
According to the company, 1,200 lawsuits are still pending.
Furious Seasons is doing some extensive blogging on this.
More on Zyprexa, folks. It just isn't going to go away.
NYT reporter Alex Berenson, continuing his stellar coverage of Zyprexa's risks and exposing Eli Lilly's deceitfulness, has uncovered a recent case of a man who died using Zyprexa. John Eric Kauffman has a complicated medical, which might have led to his death. However, he was a mentally ill patient on Zyprexa and as a result of his death, Eli Lilly must report his death to "federal regulators," which it is required to do under law. However, despite his heavy smoking, he gained 80 lbs. on Zyprexa – which possibly led him to develop heart disease and become sedentary after being active most of his life. His mother says that Zyprexa did help him stave off the psychosis of his bipolar disorder, but his mother wonders if the risk was worth the early death of her son. Kauffman at 41 years old weighed 259 lbs. at the time of his death. He was 5' 10".
Which leads to the question of whether mentally ill patients should choose between taking Zyprexa – which CAN help mentally ill people – and dealing with its significant side effects or risk not taking Zyprexa when other medications won't work. In light of all this, should a doctor even continue to prescribe Zyprexa after seeing its awful side effects but left with no other choice (given that a patient is treatment-resistant to most medications)?
Eli Lilly's response to this continues to be appalling:
"Zyprexa is a lifesaving drug and it has helped millions of people worldwide with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder regain control of their lives."
It may be true that it helps people "regain control of their lives," but as for being a lifesaving drug – that's unlikely. Zyprexa has been shown to induce diabetes, obesity, hyperglycemia, and now, heart disease and death. I commend Australian regulators for looking into the details of Lilly downplaying the risk of Zyprexa and hope that they will make the information public – a different course than what the U.S. federal government seems to be taking. Lilly's 2006 settlement with patients who developed diabetes and other health problems is pure evidence that despite their constant denials, Lilly's hiding something in an effort to make profits.
My prediction: The FDA will eventually slap a black-box warning on Zyprexa, warning patients that it makes them more prone to diabetes and its other ill health effects.
The NYT video on health includes a story about how health programs are aimed at baby boomers who are intent on staving off age-related problems such as dementia. (Related to Zyprexa being used off-label for dementia and all…)
ADDENDUM: Eli Lilly wins Round 1 in court. According to the NYT, a federal appeals court has ruled in favor of Lilly in a challenge to its patent on Zyprexa. Ivax (affiliated with Teva Pharmaceutical Industries) and Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories filed a suit saying that a lower court ruling in Lilly’s favor was wrong. Lilly’s patent on Zyprexa expires in 2011. And random Zyprexa data because Seroquel actually looks better in this instance:
“Sales of Zyprexa dropped 16 percent and fell behind AstraZeneca’s Seroquel as America’s best-selling antipsychotic in 2005, according to IMS Health, which provides data on drug sales.”