How Do So Many End Up On Medication?

How Do So Many End Up On Medication?

This excerpt is from an article published in the December 16, 2006 Austin American Statesman: "A major corporation and several subsidiaries misrepresented the safety and effectiveness of an anti-psychotic drug and unduly influenced at least one state official to make it a standard treatment in public mental health programs, according to a lawsuit the state has joined. Attorney General Greg Abbott joined a lawsuit filed in Travis County district court by Allen Jones, a former investigator for the state of Pennsylvania, against Johnson & Johnson, Inc. and five related companies. Jones says in the lawsuit that he learned of payments to at least one Texas mental health official in interviews he conducted as an investigator. No official is named in the lawsuit. "The lawsuit, which came to light Friday, seeks to recover for the state untallied alleged overcharges to the state's Medicaid program, which pays for health care for low-income people. Jones' lawsuit alleges that the companies launched a drug named Risperdal in 1994 to treat schizophrenia. "About the same time, the state was developing a protocol, or treatment guidelines, for which drugs should be used in public mental health programs. The defendants ‘provided substantial financial contributions to and improperly influenced the development’ of the protocols, the lawsuit said, and Risperdal took precedence in the protocols over cheaper, equally effective medicines. The drug later received recommendations as the medicine of choice in the state's mental health protocol for treating children and adolescents, even though it lacked a Food and Drug Administration indication for those age groups, the lawsuit says. "It says side effects and health risks include increased chance of stroke, renal failure and hyperglycemia. ’We allege it's a scheme whereby they passed off as medical science phony representations and misleading facts about the efficacy and appropriateness of these drugs,’ said Thomas Melsheimer, a lawyer for Jones. Abbott's office declined to comment on the lawsuit, as did spokesmen for Johnson & Johnson and the state's Health and Human Services Commission, which oversees the Medicaid program. A commission spokesman did say Texas paid 308,000 claims totaling $73.5 million for Risperdal in 2005."

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