Colorado Medicaid Doctor Prescribes a Whopping $1.1 Million of Antipsychotic Drugs in Just 2008 and 2009 Alone

Colorado’s top Medicaid prescriber of drugs at the center of a U.S. senator’s probe into fraud, waste and abuse in the Medicaid system billed nearly $1.1 million in 2008 and 2009 for 1,304 prescriptions written on four expensive antipsychotic drugs, according to data obtained by the Citizens Commission on Human Rights of Colorado.

The high-prescribing doctor was identified only by the prescriber identifier number 1093800559 in data compiled by the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy & Financing (CDHCPF) in response to a request from U.S. Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees Medicaid and Medicare.

In April the senator requested 2008 and 2009 data from all 50 state Medicaid agencies on the top 10 Medicaid prescribers for each of six antipsychotic and two narcotic drugs, citing his concern they are being overprescribed at great cost to the publicly-funded Medicaid and Medicare programs.  Following his review of the data, Grassley called for a federal investigation.

Collectively Colorado’s top 10 Medicaid prescribers of the six antipsychotic drugs in question billed Medicaid a total of $8,172,649 over the two-year period, billing $3,045,015 in 2008 and $5,127,634 in 2009 for a 68 percent increase.

Colorado taxpayers have good reason to be concerned not only about the mushrooming cost of expensive antipsychotic drugs prescribed by Medicaid psychiatrists, but also the medical costs of the physical damage these drugs can cause to the Medicaid patients taking them.

The ages of the patients for whom the prescriptions were written were not part of the released data, so it is not known whether the huge jump in prescriptions in Colorado reflects the growing nationwide trend of putting children on antipsychotics, especially poor children.  A Rutgers University study last year found that children from low-income families, like those on Medicaid, were four times as likely as the privately insured to be put on antipsychotic drugs.

Drug studies of newer antipsychotics have found they can cause serious side effects in children, including diabetes, obesity, elevated cholesterol, seizures and strokes.

According to a recent article in The New York Times, “a marketing juggernaut…has made antipsychotics the nation’s top-selling class of drugs by revenue, $14.6 billion last year, with prominent promotions aimed at children.”

Because none of Colorado’s top Medicaid antipsychotic prescribers is identified by name in the CDHCPF data, it is not possible to track any financial ties they might have with the pharmaceutical companies that make these drugs, which could lead to a higher use of the drugs and a higher cost to the Medicaid program without benefiting patients.

Recently enacted national health care reform will require pharmaceutical companies to disclose payments to doctors beginning in 2013.  In the meantime Eli Lilly & Co. and Pfizer, makers of two of the antipsychotic drugs targeted by Sen. Grassley, must already disclose their payments to doctors as part of agreements reached with the U.S. Department of Justice.

With Colorado already facing what the governor’s office estimates as  a $262 million general-fund shortfall for the current 2010-11 budget and facing another $1 billion shortfall in the 2011-12 budget year, details of the number and cost of prescriptions for antipsychotic and other psychiatric in the publicly-funded Medicaid program over the past 10 years should be made public, with a special focus on the increase in the number and cost of prescriptions written on antipsychotics for children.

If you or someone you know has been harmed by taking antipsychotic drugs and you want to talk about it, we want to talk to you.  Email us or call 303-789-5225. All inquiries and communication will be handled in strictest confidence. We will take action.

There is NO Suicide Epidemic in Colorado

Data being misused to alarm the public is consistent with marketing programs of the psychiatric-pharmaceutical industry

Data recently released by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment show that the trend in suicides in the state in effect has been statistically flat for at least 22 years.  There are wide fluctuations from year to year in the rate of suicides per 100,000 population, but all within a long-term, essentially unchanged trend, as the chart below of the data illustrates.  There isno suicide epidemic in Colorado.

Particularly false is the claim of a supposed epidemic of suicides among young people.  The fact is that suicide is very rare among children.  While the death of any child is tragic, statewide there were just 11 suicides last year in an estimated population of 1,040,402 children through age 14, for a rate of 1.1 suicide per 100,000 in 2009 – almost exactly the same rate as the 20-year average rate for this age group of 1.0.  The facts show there is no suicide epidemic among younger children.

Concerning teenage suicides, the statistic currently making headlines is that suicide is the second-leading cause of death among teenagers in Colorado.  But this is only because there are very few teenage deaths for any reason.  While the death of any child is tragic, the fact is that there were 49 suicides last year in an estimated population of 362,423 teens ages 15 through 19 statewide, for a rate of 13.5 suicides per 100,000 population in 2009 – almost exactly the same rate as the 20-year average rate for this age group of 13.1.  The facts show that suicides are not spreading more rapidly or extensively among teenagers.  There is no suicide epidemic.

At a minimum, these statistics stand as testament to the monumental failure of psychiatry to lower the suicide rate after decades of prescribing antidepressants in Colorado – to the point that antidepressant residues are measurable in our waterways.

More alarming is the fact that psychiatric drugging is leading to suicides.  An estimated 50% of all Americans who commit suicide are on psychiatric drugs.

Antidepressants are known to cause worsening depression, birth defects, sexual dysfunction, anxiety, panic attacks, hostility, aggression, psychosis, violence, suicide and many, many other adverse events.  Long-term antidepressant users frequently report that their emotions have been deadened so much that they feel like zombies.

The dangers of antidepressants have led the FDA and regulatory authorities around the word to issue warnings concerning their use, including the FDA’s most severe, “black box” warning.

International warnings & studies on psychiatric drugs can be found through the Citizens Commission on Human Rights International’s psychiatric drug search engine.

Adverse psychiatric drug reactions reported to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Medwatch can be searched here.

Despite the fact that the suicide rate for teenagers in Colorado has been essentially unchanged for at least 20 years, “suicide as the second-leading cause of death among teenagers” is being used to gain sympathy and support from the public, school administrators, physicians, public officials, and state legislators for requiring children to be screened for depression in the name of suicide prevention.

The screening surveys used, however, consider the normal variations in human behavior as symptoms of mental illness.  In particular, teenagers, with their wide range of behavior, are found to have “mental disorders” in high numbers.  This is because screening that targets teenagers, such as TeenScreen, asks questions that could be answered “Yes” by almost any normal teenager, such as:

  • Has there been a time when nothing was fun for you and you just weren’t interested in anything?
  • Has there been a time when you felt you couldn’t do anything well or that you weren’t as good-looking or as smart as other people?
  • How often did your parents get annoyed or upset with you because of the way you were feeling or acting?
  • Have you often felt very nervous when you’ve had to do things in front of people?
  • Have you often worried a lot before you were going to play a sport or game or do some other activity?

A pilot program using TeenScreen should serve as a chilling warning to Coloradoans about what it means when teenagers are screened for depression.  During 2001-03, TeenScreen was used on teenagers at a Denver public high school and a Denver homeless shelter.  The results, unabashedly published at the time on the website of the Mental Health Association of Colorado (now Mental Health America of Colorado), are shocking to anyone – except apparently those with ties in with the psychiatric industry:

  • Half (50%) of the screened high school students were found to be at risk of suicide!
  • Nearly three out of four youths (71%) screened at the homeless shelter were found to have psychiatric disorders!

Clearly these screening surveys are identifying all sorts of young people as “mentally ill” when they are not.  Even the developer of the TeenScreen survey, psychiatrist David Shaffer, who has been the recipient of huge dollars from pharmaceutical companies (see “TeenScreen, A Front Group for the Psycho-Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex”), himself admits that TeenScreen “does identify a whole bunch of kids who aren’t really suicidal, so you get a lot of false-positives. And that means if you’re running a large program at a school, you’re going to cripple the program because you’re going to have too many kids you have to do something about.”

And what happens when the screening identifies so many children “you have to do something about?”  It means a bonanza for the pharmaceutical companies and the psychiatrists who make a living from psychiatric drugging.  Young people with their wide range of childhood behavior, or with behavioral symptoms caused by any number of underlying, often undiagnosed physicalillnesses or abnormalities, will be labeled with “mental disorders” that follow them through life.

They will likely get referred to a psychiatrist, who will in all probability prescribe powerful, mind-altering psychiatric drugs, with their long lists of harmful and even life-threatening side effects.  The results of a survey published several years ago in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry revealed that 9 out of 10 children who see a psychiatrist will be prescribed psychiatric drugs.

The facts show that there is no epidemic of suicides in Colorado.  So who is behind the hysteria being whipped up in the state over suicides?   Pharmaceutical companies have three steps in their marketing programs, the first of which is to elevate the importance of a condition, making it appear far more serious & widespread than previously thought.  This first step is well underway in Colorado, forwarded by psychiatrists and psychiatric-industry front groups like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), using disinformation about a nonexistent “epidemic of suicides” supposedly sweeping the state.

The story of the unholy alliance between psychiatry and the drug companies, with the slick marketing schemes and scientific deceit that have created an $80 billion profit center, has been documented in “The Marketing of Madness: Are We All Insane?”, a multi-award-winning documentary film produced by CCHR International.  To order your free copy of the DVD, click here.

If you, a loved one, or someone you know has been harmed by a psychiatrist or other mental-health worker and you want to talk about it, we want to talk to you.  Email us or call 303-789-5225. All inquiries and communication will be handled in strictest confidence. We will take action.

Man Died in Restraints at Colorado State Psychiatric Hospital

CMHIP withholds data requested by the district attorney and county coroner

An obese man who died in the custody of the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo (CMHIP) suffocated while being restrained face down on a table. He may have been hog-tied.

Troy Allen Geske, 41, died August 10 at the psychiatric institution. An affidavit for a search warrant says that Geske died after he was put in four-point restraint, in which the feet are attached to the hands behind the back.

A spokeswoman for the Colorado Department of Human Services, which oversees the psychiatric facility, denied Geske was in four-point restraint. But Pueblo County District Attorney Bill Thiebaut said the information in the affidavit is corroborated by evidence that has been collected, including video of Geske in restraints, according to the Pueblo Chieftain:
http://chieftain.com/news/local/article_f75a23c2-b72f-11df-9494-001cc4c002e0.html
http://chieftain.com/news/local/article_59e5ca9c-b653-11df-8d64-001cc4c002e0.html

At 5-feet-8 and 265 pounds, Geske was at greater risk of “positional asphyxiation” when he was restrained on his stomach with his own weight pressing down on his lungs and diaphragm. Federal law requires constant, close monitoring of anyone face down in restraints to prevent suffocation.

The results of an autopsy and toxicology tests have not yet been released.

After Geske’s death, hospital police could have called in the 10th Judicial District’s critical incident team (CIT) for an independent investigation of the incident by a team of investigators from outside law enforcement agencies, but did not do so, according to the Pueblo Chieftain: http://chieftain.com/news/local/article_b4e5d92e-b7f1-11df-abf2-001cc4c002e0.html

The CIT investigates serious incidents involving police officers under an agreement to which CMHIP is a party. Hospital police were reportedly present when staff attempted to revive Geske.

CMHIP has also refused to turn over certain information requested by investigators. District Attorney Thiebaut says he will go to court if necessary to get information he believes his office is entitled to, according to the Chieftain.

For more than 40 years, the Citizens Commission on Human Rights has advocated against any form of psychiatric treatment that is torturous, cruel, inhuman or degrading, as laid out in its Mental Health Declaration of Human Rights.