Thursday, March 17, 2005

Ty Pennington's got your back

The 'Accent'(?) section of The Palm Beach Post featured this article today: The Chaos of The Distracted Mind. Much of the info is material we've seen before, as yet another reporter has decided to write about the Adult ADHD craze. There were some items I hadn't encountered, though:

First off, I didn't know Ty Pennington (Extreme Makeover: Home Edition) had spoken out publicly about his ADHD. Nor, for that matter, was I aware of the show: Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.


"ADD/ADHD is a popular diagnosis (since) the 1990s because it serves as a neat way to explain away the complexities of turn-of-the-millennium life in America," commented author Thomas Armstrong. "Ritalin use is up 500 percent over the past six years, yet it does not cure the problem."

Opponents also point out that 80 percent of the world's ADHD medications are sold in the United States.

In a public letter to then-Attorney General Janet Reno, pediatric neurologist Fred A. Baughman wrote: "The single, biggest health-care fraud in U.S. history is the representation of attention deficit (hyperactivity) disorder to be an actual disease, and the drugging of millions of entirely normal American children."

Finally, food for thought for those of you holding off on filling those prescriptions:

"Some researchers estimate that 90 percent of the U.S. prison population has ADD," says W. Gardner Morgan, Palm Beach Gardens psychologist, author and ADHD coach.

"Just ask the police department, prosecuting attorneys and parole officers," confirms Judge Cynthia Cox of St. Lucie County. "Judges, especially in family court, see ADD offenders before them all the time."

I imagine being in jail would make most individuals pretty bored and irritable.

Here's further info on the study finding chromosome abnormalities in children taking Ritalin, from the Kansas City Star: Small study links Ritalin, cancer risk.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Happy Birthday Eliot! also Pharma Execs: "We're doing great!"

Sue Pelletier has a very fine blog called Capsules, focusing on pharma and medical meeting news. In a recent post she relays the story of a very good prank played on Express Scripts, a company being sued by NY Attorney General Eliot Spitzer for $100 million for inflating the costs of generic drugs.

Stories like this renew your faith in your fellow man (well, for me they do).

On the opposite end of the continuum, there's this article from Ethical Corporation: US pharmaceutical industry ethics rated higher by executives than public.

A survey late last year by Rating Research among senior executives across the pharmaceutical industry found that 65% of executives interviewed "agreed" or "strongly agreed" that leading figures at major drug companies "adhere to ethical business practices".

But in a nationwide poll conducted by Opinion Research in early February only 44% of the 1,000 US citizens surveyed said they trusted senior leadership of major pharmaceutical makers to "engage in ethical business practices".

'Soo-prize, soo-prize, soo-prize!', as Gomer Pyle would say.

But wait, there's more:

Another public opinion survey was carried out in February by the Kaiser Family Foundation. It found that although 90% of adults said pharmaceutical companies made an important contribution by developing new drugs, half had an overall unfavourable view of the industry.

And 70% of participants in the Kaiser survey said the pharmaceutical industry put profits ahead of people.

There were some results sure to be excerpted for the in-house FDA mass emails and newsletters, though:

The study also found, however, that despite the recent controversy surrounding Cox-2 inhibitors like Vioxx, 80% of adults surveyed still felt confident about the safety of prescription medications sold in the US. 77% said they were confident in the Food and Drug Administration's ability to ensure drug safety.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

More on the AdderallXR ban and A CARTOON

At Honeycomb Connect there's an interesting Compliance Column by Fiona Jones: May I Have Your Attention Please?

In additional to facts we've gone over here before, Jones provides data about the growth of the ADHD industry:

the ADHD epidemic has grown from 150,000 cases in 1970, to an estimated 3 to 7 percent of school-age children. Some estimates put the rate as high as 15 percent of all school-age children and while it is difficult to get an exact figure what is clear is that the diagnosis of ADHD is on the rise.

Also, the article gives a bit of the FDA's side on the AdderallXR ban. Apparently officials in Canada have the luxury of pulling a drug while safety concerns are investigated, but in the US regulatory framework this isn't an option. Then the article drops this bombshell:

Several US newspapers reported that U.S. Senator Charles E. Grassley alleges that the FDA asked Canadian regulators not to pull the drug because the agency couldn't handle another crisis over drug safety. Grassley indicated his information came from FDA whistle-blowers and the FDA declined comment on the accusation.

Ritalin is the ADD drug that joined other pharmaceuticals Prozac and Viagra in the lazy comedian's quick'n'easy joke bag. Recent research would indicate Ritalin has some painfully unfunny problems, though:

Researchers at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) have just released some alarming results on RitalinĀ®. In a small study on just 12 children taking RitalinĀ® they found that every child experienced a significant increase in their level of chromosome abnormalities - occurrences associated with increased risks of cancer and other adverse health effects.

Finally, we have the cartoon. The Consumers Union, the hardworking folks that tell you which vacuum cleaner or DVD player is the best in their magazine, Consumer Reports, have come out with a cartoon, The Drugs I Need, that is part of their 'Prescription for Change' campaign for greater transparency regarding clinical trial results.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

The Secret Value Of Daydreaming

'The Capital' of Annapolis, MD brings us an article that may as well have been written with this blog in mind: More adults discovering they have ADD:

Chances are when you think about attention deficit, an image of an out-of-control boy comes to mind.

And while such an image is correct, it could just as easily be a sweet little girl who wiles away her time daydreaming.

..and thanks to modern pharmaceuticals, an America full of sweet little daydreaming girls is a nightmare we can put behind us.

Actually this article is nice and balanced, presenting the case that it's not all about dysfunction:

"Many people with ADD are very creative, and many of us also have the ability to 'hyperfocus' when we're working on something we're passionate about. Some famous scientists such as Thomas Edison and Albert Einstein are believed to have had ADD."


In his book, "Scattered," (Plume, $14.95) Dr. Gabor Mate, who was diagnosed with ADD as an adult, suggests that instead of thinking of ADD as a disease, think of having it as simply having the less common brain platform - say an "Apple" brain as opposed to a "Windows" brain. You can't follow the Windows instruction manual for your Apple brain and expect to get optimal performance. But used correctly, both kinds of brains can create outstanding results.

The idea of having an Apple (or Linux or BSD brain) instead of a Windows brain is appealing, and makes the idea of trying to switch to a Windows brain pretty repugnant, actually.

From the ABC news site we have: Terms of Impairment: Underperformer or Adult ADD?

The info here is presented in the Q&A format, and it gives some hard numbers about how many people with Adult ADD population are really out there:

According to a recent study by the Harvard School of Public Health, ADHD affects 4 percent of the U.S. adult population, or 8 million adults. Yet, 80 percent of those 8 million don't know they have ADHD and aren't treated.