Wednesday, January 19, 2011

California State Auditor finds $600,000 Lost to incompetent and Negligent Psychiatrist Over Three Years

From Wyatt Buchanan, San Francisco Chronicle Sacramento Bureau
An incompetent prison psychiatrist was kept on the state payroll at a cost to taxpayers of hundreds of thousands of dollars according to a semi-annual report released by the California State Auditor on Tuesday.
The audit, the result of tips to a state whistle-blower hot line, found eight instances of what Auditor Elaine Howle called substantiated allegations of improper governmental activities. Instances of improper spending and incompetence by workers created costs of just over half a million dollars in the report.
The highest dollar figure cited in the report is that of a psychiatrist overseeing parolees for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. The psychiatrist who is not identified by name or location was accused of negligently under prescribing, overprescribing and inappropriately prescribing medications.
Those accusations were made in June 2006, and the psychiatrist was reassigned to an administrative job in October of that year. The internal investigation was not completed until two years later, and the psychiatrist was not terminated until May 2009.
All the while, the psychiatrist received a normal salary, along with two merit-based salary increases, and accrued 226 hours of leave worth more than $29,000 that was paid out when the psychiatrist left, according to the auditor.
"According to our calculations, the amount of salary (the corrections department) paid the psychiatrist during this period exceeded the value of the administrative duties he performed by $366,656," the audit states. During the period, the psychiatrist earned more than $600,000.
Terry Thornton, spokeswoman for the corrections department, said the situation was, "A very complex, resource-intensive situation and we completed it within three years as prescribed by law," adding that, "every investigation is different and I don't think you can just broad-brush them."
The auditor found that the department treated the investigation as a low priority, but Thornton challenged that assertion.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Does the Arizona Shooter Jared Loughner’s Violence Stem from Psychotropic Drugs like the Ft. Hood Shooter?

The Arizona Shooter Jared Loughner killed 6 people and wounded 14 including Congress woman Giffords, but he targeted senior citizens and a juvenile girl in a indiscriminant rampage.
The news media and government officials have talked about hate as the primary reason of this heinous crime. Sheriff Dupnik blames the vitriolic political rhetoric, but is Loughner’s aggressive behavior a result of something else? He was expelled from Pima Community College because his mental state was in question. News reports also indicate classmates and teachers felt he was capable of this type of criminal act. It is publically unknown at this time if Loughner had taken antidepressants, but aggressive behavior is a side effect of many of the psychotropic drugs on the market today. If he sought advice or assistance from a mental health department then the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) or psychiatrist handbook prescribes psychotropic drugs as the solution to mental disorders. The DSM is the psychiatrist’s bible and psych drugs are their only solution. Basically a mental disorder equals a drug solution. If Loughner was on psych drugs then that will be found in the ensuing investigation. There are similarities with this mass murder and that of the Ft. Hood shooter.

The Fort Hood shooter sole suspect is Nidal Malik Hasan who was a U.S. Army major serving as a psychiatrist. He actually prescribed himself antidepressants, and is now in custody and paralyzed from the chest down. He killed 13 people and wounded 30 and is charged with 13 counts of premeditated murder and 32 counts of attempted murder. He was shot by Army Civilian officers. Hasan’s act was widely considered an act of hate or terror as Hasan is a Muslim and the Army was apparently aware of Hasan's tendencies toward radical Islam since 2005.

Both of these acts appear to be premeditated and involving inner mental turmoil, so all you need is a weapon and a prescription to act out the rage. The Ft. Hood shooting was the media’s story for weeks upon the event, but has now faded as will this recent crime.
The volatility of psychotropic drugs has not become part of the national debate. Attacking pharmaceutical companies doesn’t appear interesting enough to media outlets or government regulators. They are more interested in the political narrative than the real truth. Maybe they are in each others pockets. The government and the FDA doesn’t want to confront the common denominator to mass murder (Virginia Tech, Columbine) the past 30 years.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Stanford Doctors On the Take from BigPharma in Violation of University Policy

Artical By Lisa M. Krieger
MercuryNews Dec. 20, 2010 article

A dozen physicians at Stanford University's School of Medicine are under investigation by the school's disciplinary board for their too-cozy relationships with drug companies.
These physicians delivered speeches paid for by drug companies, in violation of school policy, according to a public database reported by the nonprofit online investigative website ProPublica.
"A review is under way," said Stanford School of Medicine Dean Phil Pizzo, who in 2009 created a policy prohibiting such behavior among the university's 1,500 physicians.
"They now recognize what they did was wrong," he said. "If we find someone who continues to violate policy, we will consider disciplinary action."
Violators include Alan Yeung, Stanford's chief of cardiovascular medicine, who was paid $53,000 from Eli Lilly & Co. to speak at a "Healthcare Professional Education Program" in an appearance that included another $1,463 for travel and a $375 consulting fee. He reportedly quit speaking for the company last fall.
Also named in the ProPublica reporting was child psychiatrist Hans Steiner, now retired, who was paid $109,000 by Eli Lilly to talk about Strattera, a drug that treats attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. In a response to the ProPublica report, he said he assumed the policy didn't apply to him once he became an emeritus professor, but he will now comply.
They were among 17,000 doctors nationwide who were paid a total of $257.8
million by seven companies in 2009 and the first two quarters of 2010, according the ProPublica database. In California, about 3,000 doctors received an estimated $28.6 million in payments from pharmaceutical companies for speeches promoting brand-label drugs to fellow doctors, the report said.
"The vast majority (of Stanford faculty) are paying attention to our guidelines," said Pizzo.
The violators have been referred to the senior associate dean for academic affairs at the medical school.
Many Stanford physicians are paid consulting fees by drug companies, which are disclosed to the university and not prohibited, because they improve companies' ability to design and test drugs, ultimately helping human health. For instance, Kiki Chang, director of the Pediatric Bipolar Disorder Program, was paid $5,936 to consult for Eli Lilly; oncologist Robert Carlson was paid $4,665 to consult for Pfizer.
The Mercury News tried to contact some Stanford doctors, but calls were not returned by deadline.
The names of doctors moonlighting for drugmakers were private until last year. So far, seven drugmakers have started disclosing payments. All will be required to disclose the information by 2013 as part of the Physician Payments Sunshine Act.
The practice is legal, but it creates the perception of conflict-of-interest because doctors promote certain drugs to peers and get paid by drug companies to do it.
The drug company representatives say the speaking engagements are designed to supply doctors with the most up-to-date information about new drugs, or new data about older drugs, so doctors have a better sense of their effectiveness, interactions and side effects. They also say the practice is designed to better serve patients by educating doctors about illnesses and the drugs available to combat them.
But there is widespread concern that the payments may induce doctors to advocate for the companies' brand-name drugs, rather than lesser-priced generic alternatives.
Stanford's Pizzo first issued guidelines governing physician behavior in 2006, and clarified them in 2009. These policies have been publicized 17 times in the dean's online newsletter.
When alerted to the ProPublica database, Pizzo conducted a preliminary investigation, which suggested that "some individuals "... had understandable reasons for confusion. Others, though, offered explanations why their activities continued that are difficult if not impossible to reconcile with our policy, and here we have concerns," said Pizzo.
"This is unacceptable, certainly for anyone with a Stanford title," he said.
Stanford's medical community is large and diverse, with 1,500 physicians playing different roles, Pizzo said. There are decade-long relationships with drug companies that "don't unravel with the stroke of a pen. They take time."
Moreover, the school must rely on the honor system for compliance. It does not inspect personal tax returns, for instance.
"At the end of the day, we are involved in a trusting relationship with our faculty. And we expect them to be straight and honest with us in their disclosures," said Pizzo. "We count on an honest interpretation by them of what we do."