Bush plans to screen whole US population for mental illness

So says a news article in the British Medical Journal on-line 19 June (BMJ, 1458). 

A sweeping mental health initiative will be unveiled by President George W Bush in July. The plan promises to integrate mentally ill patients fully into the community by providing “services in the community, rather than institutions,” according to a March 2004 progress report titled Freedom Initiative (http://www.whitehouse.gov/newfreedom/toc-2004.html). While some praise the plan’s goals, others say it protects the profits of drug companies at the expense of the public.

Bush established a mental health commission in 2002 that issued the Freedom Initiative report last July (President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, Final Report). One of the commission’s findings is that schools are in a key position to screen 52 million students and 6 million adults who work in the schools (Final Report, p. 66). The commission also recommended linkage between the screening and state of the art treatment using the Texas Medication Algorithm Project (TMAP) as a model for the treatment plan (Final Report, pp. 76 and 77).

However the Texas Project achieved some notoriety outside of Texas when Allen Jones, an employee of the Pennsylvania Office of the Inspector General, revealed that individuals who had influence over the medication plan received perks and money from drug companies with a stake in the plan. Jones, told by superiors to ignore his finding, was fired for going public to the British Medical Journal and the New York Times (BMJ, 1153).

This quote is from the second BMJ new item.

The Pennsylvania formulary is based on the Texas Medication Algorithm Project that has been exported to about 12 states and was recently commended as a model program by President Bush’s New Freedom Commission.

However, Dr Peter J Weiden, who was a member of the project’s expert consensus panel, charges that the guidelines are based on “opinions, not data” and that bias due to funding sources undermines the credibility of the guidelines since “most of the guidelines authors have received support from the pharmaceutical industry”

Not surprisingly, the TMAP methodology leads to guidelines that recommend new and expensive antipsychotic drugs, such as Eli Lilly’s Olanzapine. However, according to the BMJ article (1458), studies indicate that “using older drugs first makes sense. There’s nothing in the labeling of the newer atypical anti-psychotic that suggests they are superior in efficacy to haloperidol [an older “typical” antipsychotic].There has to be an enormous amount of unnecessary expenditures for newer drugs.”

The TMAP project began in the mid 90s as an alliance between the pharmaceutical industry, the University of Texas, mental health organizations, and the Texas corrections system. The project published its guidelines in 1995. The pharmaceutical companies who funded the scheme include Janssen Pharmaceutica, Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly, Astrazeneca, Pfizer, Novartis, Janssen-Ortho-McNeil, GlaxoSmithKline, Abbott, Bristol Myers Squibb, Wyeth-Ayerst and Forrest Laboratories. The drugs recommended as “first line treatment”, many of them with potentially deadly side effects, are patented expensive drugs produced by the sponsors of the guidelines: Risperdal, Zyprexa, Seroqual, Geodone, Depakote, Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa, Wellbutron, Zyban, Remeron, Serzone, Effexor, Buspar, Adderall and Prozac.

On the surface, Bush’s approach to dealing with mental illness appears to differ from Reagan’s. If you recall, the great communicator threw them out on the street. However, my very brief review of the Final Report indicates that Bush’s program is a major new initiative. If it runs true to form for new government programs, it will be underfunded. That will, inevitably, take money away from such things as shelter programs. So, there is some similarity after all.

Let’s see about the old boy network. Bush Sr. was a member of Lilly’s board of directors. Bush Jr. appointed Lilly’s CEO, Sidney Taurel, to a seat on the Homeland Security Council. Rumsfeld worked for Lilly before being selected to go visit Saddam. Lilly and the other pharmaceutical companies are, of course, campaign contributers. (About 65:35 Republican to Democrat this year.) Prozac anyone?

Source—the The Randi Rhoads Show

In addition to a more extensive quote of the Jones report than I found in the BMJ news items, the discussion at Randi’s URL covers a number of additional issues:

—Juvenile detention facilities as a source of potential customers,
—Re-definition of environmental illness—a debilitating condition with varying, symptoms due to   environmental causes—as a purely psychological phenomenon,
—Flaws in the TMAP methodology and generalizing from research on adults to a different population,  children,
—Vastly increased costs for psychiatric medication in Texas,
—Some state governments going after psychiatric drug companies, and
—Petrochemical vs biological treatment models.

13 thoughts on “Bush plans to screen whole US population for mental illness

  1. downer  if only there were a god to help us all… i look at not just this but the whole picture of the bush administration and i fear. i fear.

  2. Given that the govt is talking about legislation procedures for delaying elections in the event of a terrorist attack; are you sure we’re going to be given the chance to vote them out of office?

    captcha=“law”

  3. I hope they mentally screen him first, after all, the President should set an example for the nation.  While they’re at it, they should run a whole range of tests on him.  A few basic English lessons would be a good idea.

  4. On the surface, pre-screening perople for mental health conditions and returning mental health patients to workable areas of soceity sounds like a decent enough plan.  After further inspection of the plan I can see where this becomes yet another ploy to line the coffers of friendly ‘privatized’ drug companies.  I’m sure it would benefit the socical security program by taking these people off of SSDI but what happens when they can’t afford to or don’t take medication.  It’s not like they’re in an institution for the joy of it.

    Maybe if they all get together and pray really, really hard God will heal them all and they won’t have to worry about it.

    The government could learn a few things from the software and engineering sectors on their project planning.  Mainly, risk identification, quality assurance, regression testing and integration.

    Bush psychological profile in a nutshell.  Meglomaniniac with shadow narcissitic tendencies.  Delusional, paranoid, obsessive compulsive with elevated fear of failure.

    captcha = ‘voice’  Who’s there?

  5. Hmmm… I am on Depakote and Wellbutrin, oh how lovely -mutter- What is really hilarious is that a pharmaceutical company makes upwards of a %4000 percent profit margin on any given drug approved by the FDA. Of course they are going to push for newer drugs to be used constantly, even when such drugs are completely unecessary. I am shocked that the FDA even approves any drug who’s study, manufacture, etc is all done outside of the USA, by non-US scientists in countries without the same laws governing their production, then imported back in and labled and sold here by these companies. I mean really, that $200 bottle of pills cost the company exactly $.80 to make, including the packaging. :$

  6. Seems there is a psychiatrist inside the beltway that agrees with our findings of dear old George and has written a book. Bush on the Couch

    [Quote]The President suffers from “character pathology,” including “grandiosity” and “megalomania”—viewing himself, America and God as interchangeable.

    Dr. Frank has been a psychiatrist for 35 years and is director of psychiatry at George Washington University. A Democrat, he once headed the Washington Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility.

    In all fairness to George, this doctor is a declared democrat.  I do like the recommended treatment though.

    Dr. Frank’s expert recommendation? ““Our sole treatment option—for his benefit and for ours—is to remove President Bush from office . . . before it is too late.”

  7. Well, I’m a regular poster here, but just this time I’ll stay anonymous and hope Les doesn’t track my IP – just kidding, Les!

    But I just wanted to say that I *am* using Prozac (different brand name, though). Its gotten a bad rap as a lifestyle drug (or as something cooked up by the pharmaceuticals industry), but for me its been a real stop-gap measure to deal with some extremely difficult psychological problems.

    And Spocko – just took your test. I score very high on ‘paranoid’, which, sadly, is about right.

  8. Listen, when you remeber the old crazy houses
    back before THE GREAT COMMUNICATOR closed them all,
    we were at least potentially still hu-man:  since
    we now leave all these sad souls(WHO MAY IN SOME WAY KNOW MORE THAN THE REST OF US)out on the street to either freeze or fry, (and of cousre in our great comfort, swilling Dom Perignon) we have lost total track of the meagrest duty necessary
    to us all—caring for our fellow hu-man beings. 
    Who’s the LOSER?

  9. TORE TOIVICCOS-IMAGINING DENMARK:
    -OPINIONS ABOUT DENMARK-

    I HAVE NO HOPE.THEY KNOW EVERYTHING WHAT I DO.THEY KNOW I AM WRITING THIS IN MY HOME USING MY PC.I DON’T HAVE INTERNET CONNECTION.BUT THEY KNOW IT,IF THEY WANT.THEY KNOW EVERYTHING I DO.I HAVE NO PRIVACY.THEY GET ALARMED WHEN I GO OUT.THERE IS SOMEONE AT THE STATION INFORMING,OR BUS DRIVER ALARMS PEOPLE SO THAT WHEN I ARRIVE TO COPENHAGEN,THERE IS PEOPLE WAITING FOR ME.THEY ARE AFTER ME 24HOURS /DAY.ESPECIALLY WHEN THERE IS HOLIDAYS OF DANISH PEOPLE,IF THEY HAVE NOT MADE ME BUSY SOME OTHER WAY,F.EX.GIVING ME SOME PROBLEM I NEED TO HANDLE IMMEDIATELY,TAKING ALL MY TIME.
    WHATEVER I DO THEY STOP IT.I HAVE NO CHANCES TO LIVE HERE.I DON’T KNOW IF THEY KILL ME,OR ONLY WANT TO STOP MY CHANCES TO COMMUNICATE ABOUT THOSE CRIMES THEY HAVE DONE-AND ARE DOING?

    [The rest of this nonsense has been deleted as it turned out to be one long idiotic spam comment]

  10. We already have the Lunatics in charge of the asylum (Mad King George and his court) so I guess this fits.

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