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Harvard Psychiatrists Target 4-year old Children for Drug Trials

Wednesday, 21 February 2007

An example of crass commercialism: a Mass General Hospital advertisement (2001) posted on YouTube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGkQdzU2DOk Four-year old Rebecca Riley' was a casualty of psychiatric "treatment. Her death from a combination of prescribed toxic psychotropic drugs is a demonstration of medicine derailed from its legitimate therapeutic mission. http://ahrp.blogspot.com/2007/02/4-year-old-rebecca-riley-casualty-of.html

The public was shocked that when still a toddler--aged 28 months--Rebecca was "diagnosed" with both bipolar disorder and ADHD by a board certified psychiatrist.

But a cadre of child psychiatrists at the nation's most prestigious medical centers, have made their career by working hand in glove with drug manufacturers on whose behalf they test the most toxic drugs in young children and lend their reputations to promote the use of these drugs--and drug combinations for young children--seemingly without regard for children's safety or welfare.

An example of crass commercialism can be seen in a MGH advertisement (2001) posted on YouTube (Mass Gen Bipolar Children Advert) that sought to recruit children as young as 4 to serve as human guinea pigs in one of its numerous lucrative psychotropic drug trials. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RGkQdzU2DOk

The ad is an example of disease mongering and pathologizing childhood behavior. MGH department of psychiatry instills fear in parents by insinuating that their child's behavior problems are biological:

"Your child may be facing a chemical problem that you can't manage without help.” “We're Mass General, and we can help." The number given to call is 617-724-4 MGH.

A report in the Boston Globe (2005) revealed that "After decades of offering continuing medical education classes in Boston, Harvard Medical School teaching hospital--Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH)--last year raised $6.5 million from Cephalon Inc., Janssen Medical Affairs, GlaxoSmithKline, and Wyeth for its 2005 program. The pool of money will allow the psychiatry department to dramatically expand its continuing medical education program with live lectures in 24 cities, teleconferences, and around-the-clock webcasts."

Dr. Robert Birnbaum, medical director of the Division of Postgraduate Education for the psychiatry department insults our intelligence when he claims : "The companies don't have any input into the curriculum, and there is no ongoing dialogue throughout the year."

As Dr. Arnold Relman, a Harvard Medical School professor, former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, observed: "I am skeptical that a company would give a lot of money just to be able to say 'We were nice to the Mass. General Hospital.' "

Contact: Vera Hassner Sharav 212-595-8974

veracare@ahrp.orgThis email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

http://tinyurl.com/2vrfp4 The Boston Globe

PSYCHIATRY FUNDING QUESTIONED: DRUG FIRMS AID MASS. GENERAL By Liz Kowalczyk

May 14, 2005 BUSINESS section; Pg. A1

For the first time, Massachusetts General Hospital's renowned psychiatry department has accepted money from the pharmaceutical industry to educate doctors around the country .

After decades of offering continuing medical education classes in Boston, Harvard Medical School teaching hospital last year raised $6.5 million from Cephalon Inc., Janssen Medical Affairs, GlaxoSmithKline, and Wyeth for its 2005 program. The pool of money will allow the psychiatry department to dramatically expand its continuing medical education program with live lectures in 24 cities, teleconferences, and around-the-clock webcasts.

Mass. General psychiatrists said without outside funding they would have to charge doctors prohibitively high tuition. They said they have developed ways to minimize the risk that drug company money could bias classroom instruction.

"The companies don't have any input into the curriculum, and there is no ongoing dialogue throughout the year," said Dr. Robert Birnbaum, medical director of the Division of Postgraduate Education for the psychiatry department. "We're hoping this becomes a national model."

In recent years, the pharmaceutical industry has become increasingly interested in funding continuing medical education. While companies say their motive is to help educate doctors, the practice is raising concerns in the medical profession. Recently enacted rules have explicitly forbidden companies from nudging course content toward positive discussion of their drugs. But even those measures have not satisfied some critics.

"I am skeptical that a company would give a lot of money just to be able to say 'We were nice to the Mass. General Hospital,' " said Dr. Arnold Relman, a Harvard Medical School professor, former editor of the New England Journal of Medicine, and long-time critic of drug company involvement in education. "It's much more likely that despite the rules and regulations they hope they will influence the programs and improve their sales."

Most states require physicians to take 30 to 50 hours of instruction a year to keep current on treatments and to stay licensed. Hospitals, medical schools, and media and education companies nationwide offer thousands of different courses, from hour-long lectures to weekend seminars in exotic locations. Increasingly, the courses are paid for by drug firms, allowing doctors to attend for free or to pay minimal fees.

In 2003, drug companies for the first time accounted for more than half of the total funding of courses offered by organizations accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education, which oversees continuing medical education for doctors. That year, the pharmaceutical industry gave those organizations $944 million for education. Total funding from all sources was $1.77 billion.

The potential influence of drug companies on doctors' education was highlighted by a federal investigation of Parke-Davis, now owned by Pfizer Inc. According to internal company documents released as part of the probe, the company developed a strategy for marketing its epilepsy drug, Neurontin, for unapproved uses. In a report titled "1998 Neurontin Tactics," a New York advertising firm suggested that the company sponsor classes on bipolar illness to increase awareness of Neurontin's effectiveness in treating the disorder. Last year, the company pled guilty to criminal conduct and agreed to pay a $430 million fine.

Federal regulators and medical community leaders have called for stricter standards, and last year the accreditation council adopted explicit rules to protect against drug company bias in continuing education . For example, it prohibits companies from selecting faculty for courses or from advertising their products during educational activities. But critics say that even with the new rules, drug companies still set the overall agenda by funding only courses that emphasize treatment with expensive brand-name drugs, rather than courses that don't focus on profitable products, such as behavioral therapy for depression.

Mass. General's psychiatry department, one of the nation's largest academic psychiatry departments, said it discourages that practice by asking firms to fund the entire curriculum for a year, rather than individual courses. Many of the psychiatrists who teach the courses are consultants for, or receive research funding from, pharmaceutical companies, which they disclose to their audiences as required by the accreditation council.

Dr. Jerrold Rosenbaum, chief of psychiatry at Mass. General, said the department will not earn a profit from the expanded program. Ninety percent of the drug company money will be used to pay Primedia Healthcare, a Texas-based education and training company that produces brochures, arranges hotels and food during sessions and maintains the website. But psychiatrists who teach the classes will earn extra.

In the past, the department gave course instructors credits they could put toward professional dues or books. Now, they will get paid $2,000 to $4,000 per course. Birnbaum said that when he raises money for the program, he tells drug companies only about the general therapeutic focus of the courses, the instructors, and the types and number of activities planned. He said some companies do not request more specific information because they are eager to demonstrate that funding decisions are not based on the potential for drug sales.

Cephalon, a small pharmaceutical company based in Pennsylvania and the department's biggest funder, said it is developing products for anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, so funding psychiatry courses fits into its overall strategy. "We fully expect to be marketing drugs in the psychiatric market, so it helps having our name out there, and aligning ourselves with Mass. General is a positive," said Sheryl Williams, a Cephalon spokeswoman.

Liz Kowalczyk can be reached at kowalczyk@globe.comThis email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it .

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National ID Card Rules Unveiled

By Ryan Singel

Homeland Security officials released long-delayed guidelines that turn state-issued identification cards into de facto internal passports Thursday, estimating the changes will cost states and individuals $23 billion over 10 years.

The move prompted a new round of protest from civil libertarians and security experts, who called on Congress to repeal the 2005 law known as the Real ID Act that mandates the changes.

Critics, such as American Civil Liberties Union attorney Tim Sparapani, charge that the bill increases government access to data on Americans and amplifies the risk of identity theft, without providing significant security benefits.

"Real ID creates the largest single database about U.S. people that has ever been created," Sparapani said. "This is the people who brought you long lines at the DMV marrying the people at DHS who brought us Katrina. It's a marriage we need to break up."

Homeland Security officials point to the 9/11 hijackers' ability to get driver's licenses in Virginia using false information as justification for the sweeping changes.

"Raising the security standards on driver's licenses establishes another layer of protection to prevent terrorists from obtaining and using fake documents to plan or carry out an attack," Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said in a press release.

The 162 pages of proposed rules (.pdf) require:

Applicants must present a valid passport, certified birth certificate, green card or other valid visa documents to get a license and states must check all other states' databases to ensure the person doesn't have a license from another state.

States must use a card stock that glows under ultraviolet light, and check digits, hologramlike images and secret markers.

Identity documents must expire before eight years and must include legal name, date of birth, gender, digital photo, home address and a signature. States can propose ways to let judges, police officers and victims of domestic violence keep their addresses off the cards. There are no religious exemptions for veils or scarves for photos.

States must keep copies of all documents, such as birth certificates, Social Security cards and utility bills, for seven to 10 years.

However, many difficult questions, such as how state databases will be linked or how homeless people can get identity documents, were left unanswered by the proposed rules. Citizens of states that don't abide by the guidelines will not be able to enter federal courthouses or use their identity cards to board a commercial flight.

Sophia Cope, a staff attorney at the centrist Center for Democracy and Technology, says the rules only mention privacy once.

"The Real ID Act does not include language that lets DHS prescribe privacy requirements, so there are no privacy regulations related to exchange of personal information between the states, none about skimming of the data on the magnetic stripe, and no limits on use of information by the feds," Cope said.

The Real ID Act, slipped into an emergency federal funding bill without hearings, originally required states to begin issuing the ID documents by May 2008. The proposed rules allow states to ask for an extension until Jan. 1, 2010.

Cope wants Congress to step in and rewrite the rules. The ACLU and Jim Harper, a libertarian policy analyst at the Cato Institute who specializes in identity and homeland security issues, agree.

"With five-plus years behind us, now is the time to be looking at what works and what doesn't work," Harper said. "Students of identification know that a national ID does not help with security."

Maine has already declared it will not follow the rules, and other states are close to joining that rebellion. In Congress, a bipartisan coalition is forming around bills that would repeal portions of the Real ID Act, but it is unclear if today's rules will slow or accelerate these efforts.

FAQ: How Real ID will affect you

By Declan McCullagh

What's all the fuss with the Real ID Act about?

President Bush is expected to sign an $82 billion military spending bill soon that will, in part, create electronically readable, federally approved ID cards for Americans. The House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the package--which includes the Real ID Act--on Thursday.

What does that mean for me?

Starting three years from now, if you live or work in the United States, you'll need a federally approved ID card to travel on an airplane, open a bank account, collect Social Security payments, or take advantage of nearly any government service. Practically speaking, your driver's license likely will have to be reissued to meet federal standards.

The Real ID Act hands the Department of Homeland Security the power to set these standards and determine whether state drivers' licenses and other ID cards pass muster. Only ID cards approved by Homeland Security can be accepted "for any official purpose" by the feds.

How will I get one of these new ID cards?

You'll still get one through your state motor vehicle agency, and it will likely take the place of your drivers' license. But the identification process will be more rigorous.

For instance, you'll need to bring a "photo identity document," document your birth date and address, and show that your Social Security number is what you had claimed it to be. U.S. citizens will have to prove that status, and foreigners will have to show a valid visa.

State DMVs will have to verify that these identity documents are legitimate, digitize them and store them permanently. In addition, Social Security numbers must be verified with the Social Security Administration.

What's going to be stored on this ID card?

At a minimum: name, birth date, sex, ID number, a digital photograph, address, and a "common machine-readable technology" that Homeland Security will decide on. The card must also sport "physical security features designed to prevent tampering, counterfeiting, or duplication of the document for fraudulent purposes."

Homeland Security is permitted to add additional requirements--such as a fingerprint or retinal scan--on top of those. We won't know for a while what these additional requirements will be.

Why did these ID requirements get attached to an "emergency" military spending bill?

Because it's difficult for politicians to vote against money that will go to the troops in Iraq and tsunami relief. The funds cover ammunition, weapons, tracked combat vehicles, aircraft, troop housing, death benefits, and so on.

The House already approved a standalone version of the Real ID Act in February, but by a relatively close margin of 261-161. It was expected to run into some trouble in the Senate. Now that it's part of an Iraq spending bill, senators won't want to vote against it.

What's the justification for this legislation anyway?

Its supporters say that the Real ID Act is necessary to hinder terrorists, and to follow the ID card recommendations that the 9/11 Commission made last year.

It will "hamper the ability of terrorist and criminal aliens to move freely throughout our society by requiring that all states require proof of lawful presence in the U.S. for their drivers' licenses to be accepted as identification for federal purposes such as boarding a commercial airplane, entering a federal building, or a nuclear power plant," Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner, a Wisconsin Republican, said during the debate Thursday.

You said the ID card will be electronically readable. What does that mean?

The Real ID Act says federally accepted ID cards must be "machine readable," and lets Homeland Security determine the details. That could end up being a magnetic strip, enhanced bar code, or radio frequency identification (RFID) chips.

In the past, Homeland Security has indicated it likes the concept of RFID chips. The State Department is already going to be embedding RFID devices in passports, and Homeland Security wants to issue RFID-outfitted IDs to foreign visitors who enter the country at the Mexican and Canadian borders. The agency plans to start a yearlong test of the technology in July at checkpoints in Arizona, New York and Washington state.

Will state DMVs share this information?

Yes. In exchange for federal cash, states must agree to link up their databases. Specifically, the Real ID Act says it hopes to "provide electronic access by a state to information contained in the motor vehicle databases of all other states."

Is this legislation a done deal?

Pretty much. The House of Representatives approved the package on Thursday by a vote of 368-58. Only three of the "nay" votes were Republicans; the rest were Democrats. The Senate is scheduled to vote on it next week and is expected to approve it as well.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan has told reporters "the president supports" the standalone Real ID Act, and the Bush administration has come out with an official endorsement. As far back as July 2002, the Bush administration has been talking about assisting "the states in crafting solutions to curtail the future abuse of drivers' licenses by terrorist organizations."

Who were the three Republicans who voted against it?

Reps. Howard Coble of North Carolina, John Duncan of Tennessee, and Ron Paul of Texas.

Paul has warned that the Real ID Act "establishes a national ID card" and "gives authority to the Secretary of Homeland Security to unilaterally add requirements as he sees fit."

Is this a national ID card?

It depends on whom you ask. Barry Steinhardt, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's technology and liberty program, says: "It's going to result in everyone, from the 7-Eleven store to the bank and airlines, demanding to see the ID card. They're going to scan it in. They're going to have all the data on it from the front of the card...It's going to be not just a national ID card but a national database."

At the moment, state driver's licenses aren't easy for bars, banks, airlines and so on to swipe through card readers because they're not uniform; some may have barcodes but no magnetic stripes, for instance, and some may lack both. Steinhardt predicts the federalized IDs will be a gold mine for government agencies and marketers. Also, he notes that the Supreme Court ruled last year that police can demand to see ID from law-abiding U.S. citizens.

Will it be challenged in court?

Maybe. "We're exploring whether there are any litigation possibilities here," says the ACLU's Steinhardt.

One possible legal argument would challenge any requirement for a photograph on the ID card as a violation of religious freedom. A second would argue that the legislation imposes costs on states without properly reimbursing them.

When does it take effect?

The Real ID Act takes effect "three years after the date of the enactment" of the legislation. So if the Senate and Bush give it the thumbs-up this month, its effective date would be sometime in May 2008.

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Former FBI Director Calls For New OKC Bombing Investigation

Coulson names Strassmeir as "agent" in upcoming documentary Paul Joseph Watson & Alex Jones

Former FBI Terrorist Task Force director Danny Coulson has called for a new grand jury investigation into the Oklahoma City bombing and for the first time names Andreas Strassmeir as an "agent," in a documentary set to air Sunday, according to lawyer Jesse Trentadue.

Trentadue, attorney for bombing conspirator Terry Nichols, last week obtained an astounding declaration from Nichols in which he fingered FBI agent Larry Potts as having directed McVeigh in carrying out the attack.

In addition, Nichols' description of the bomb he helped McVeigh build does not match with official accounts of the device used in the attack, lending further credence to evidence that strongly suggests only bombs planted within the Alfred P. Murrah building, which were initially reported by TV news stations, could have caused the damage inflicted.

Trentadue was interviewed for a BBC documentary on the Oklahoma City bombing which will air this Sunday in the UK. The program has a different producer to the 9/11 hit piece show which was part of the same series and is expected to present hard hitting evidence of a cover-up.

After the Alex Jones Show broke the story yesterday, the BBC itself released a detailed article on their website focusing on Coulson's revelations.

The FBI man in charge of collecting evidence from the government building destroyed by the Oklahoma bomb has called for the case to be reopened. Former deputy assistant director Danny Coulson has told the BBC programme The Conspiracy Files that he questions whether everyone involved was caught.

Mr Coulson said a federal grand jury is now needed to find out what really happened: "We have victims here and we have victims' families and we don't even know the answers. And the answer is frankly for a federal grand jury."

He argues this is the only way to prove whether other people were involved in the bombing in a wider conspiracy beyond Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols, who was also convicted of manslaughter and conspiracy and sentenced to life in jail. Talking to the Alex Jones Show, Jesse Trentadue stated that Coulson, then-director of the FBI's Terrorist Task Force and founding commander of the bureau's Hostage Rescue Team, "Spoke candidly and at length about the Oklahoma City bombing and the investigation."

Coulson (pictured above) has a very interesting connection to the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah building himself, leading many to allege that he was part of the conspiracy.

According to reports, Coulson checked into an Oklahoma City hotel the night before the April 19 1995 bombing, despite claims at the time that he was in Texas on the morning of the attack.

Receipts from the Embassy Suites Hotel show Coulson checked in nine hours before the bombing.

"Evidence of Coulson's clandestine trip fits squarely with a substantial body of details found in hundreds of pages of other official documents obtained [via Freedom of Information Act requests] revealing weeks of planning by an elite corps of drug and counterterrorism experts who were closely monitoring members of various far-right groups they considered religious extremists and threats to the safety and security of the nation," reported the McCurtain Daily Gazette.

Despite these suspicions, according to Trentadue, Coulson goes on record this weekend to testify that McVeigh had high-level help from as yet unpunished individuals.

"He was ordered out of the Justice Department not to pursue the Elohim City involvement in the bombing....it's my understanding that he says its his belief that Strassmeir was an agent working for a foreign government," said the Attorney.

Andreas Strassmeir, a former German military intelligence officer, was a ringleader at the Elohim City white supremacist compound where he trained willing recruits in guerilla warfare and terrorism. He is accused by many of being one of the several government provocateurs that were steering McVeigh and helping him obtain the materials and skills to carry out the bombing.

"I was told Mr .Coulson goes on camera and said he believes that a grand jury should be reconvened to investigate the Elohim City connection to the Oklahoma City bombing," said Trentadue.

Asked what the impact would be if a new investigation was allowed to go forward Trentadue responded, "It would destroy Hillary Clinton's campaign, it would result in the loss of careers of some high level people within various law enforcement agencies and the federal government, and it would probably result in a good number of them being prosecuted and sent to jail."

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