Date: Thu, 9 Dec 1999 11:10:46 EST
Subject: Re: QUEST: ADD - Does it Exist? An Investigative Reporter's View - With FACTS!
ATTENTION DEFICIT DISORDER: DOES IT EXIST?
Many parents around the country have discovered that Ritalin-taking has
become a condition for their children continuing in school. There are even
reports by parents of threats from social agencies: "If you don't allow us
prescribe Ritalin for your ADD child, we may decide that you are an unfit
parent. We may decide to take your child away."
This mind-boggling state of affairs is fuelled by teachers, principals
school counsellors, who do not have medical training.
Yet the very definition of the illness for which Ritalin would
is in doubt, especially at the highest levels of the medical profession.
doubt, however, has not filtered down to most public schools.
Commenting on Dr Lawrence Diller's book, Running on Ritalin, Dr
Carey, Director of Behavioral Pediatrics at the ChiIdren's Hospital of
Philadelphia, has written: "Dr Diller has correctly descibed the disturbing
trend of blaming children's social, behavioral and academic performance
problems entirely on an unproven brain deficit...
On November 16-I8, 1998, the US National Institute of Mental Health
prestigious NIH Consensus Development Conference on Diagnosis and Treatment
of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. The conference was explicitly
aimed at ending all debate about the diagnoses of ADD and ADHD and about the
prescription of Ritalin. It was hoped that at the highest levels of medical
research and bureaucracy, a clear position would be taken: this is what ADHD
is, this is where it comes from, and these are the drugs it should be
with. That didn't happen, amazingly. Instead, the official panel responsible
for drawing conclusions from the conference threw cold water on the whole
attempt to reach a comfortable consensus.
Panel member Mark Vonnegut, a Massachusetts peadiatrician, said:
diagnosis [of ADHD] is a mess."
The panel essentially said it sure ADHD was even a "valid" diagnosis.
other words, ADD and ADHD might be nothing more than attempts to categorize
certain children's behaviours with no organic cause, no clear-cut biological
basis, no provable reason for even using the ADD or ADHD labels. The panel
found "no data to indicate that ADHD is due to a brain malfunction [which
malfunction had been the whole psychiatric assumption in the first place]".
also found that Ritalin has not been shown to have long-term
benefits. In fact, it stated that Ritalin has resulted in "little
on academic achievement or social skills".
Panel chairman David Kupfer, Professor of Psychiatry at the University
Pittsburgh said: "There is no current validated diagnostic test [for ADHD]."
Yet at every level of public education in America1 there remains
only be called a voracious desire to give children Ritalin (or other similar
drugs) for ADD or ADHD.
Nullifying the warnings, assurances and prescriptions that doctors
give to parents of children who have been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD should
be a national goal.
The 1994 Textbook of Psydriatry. published by the American Psychiatric
contains this review by Popper and Steingard. The pronouncement makes a
number of things clear. "Stimulants [such as Ritalin] do not produce lasting
improvements In aggressivity, conduct disorder, criminality, education
achievement, job functioning, marital relationships or long-term
Parents should also wake up to the fact that, in the aftermath
Littleton, Colorado, tragedy, pundits and doctors are urging more extensive
"mental health" services for children. Fine, except whether you have noticed
it or not, for the most part this no longer means therapy with a caring
professional. It means drugs. It means the drugs I am discussing in this
In December 1996, the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
conference On ADHD and Ritalin. Surprisingly, it issued a sensible statement
about drugs being a bad substitute for the presence of caring parents: "...
the use of stimulants [such as Ritalin] for the short-term improvement of
behavior and underachievement may be thwarting efforts to address the
children's real issues, both on an individual and societal level. The lack
long-term positive results with the use of stimulants and the specter of
previous and potential stimulant abuse epidemics give cause to worry about
the future. The dramatic increase in the use of methylphenidate [Ritalin] in
the 1990s should be viewed as a marker or warning to society about the
problems children are having and bow we view and address them.
The Brookhaven National Laboratory has studied Ritalin through
scans. Lab researchers have found that the drug decreased the flow of blood
to all parts of the brain by 20 to 30 per cent. That is, of course, a very
negative finding. It is a signal of danger. But parents, teachers,
counsellors, principals, school psychologists know nothing about this. Nor
they know that cocaine produces the same blood-flow effect.
In his book, Talking Back to Ritalin, Peter Breggin expands on
effects: "Stimulants such as Ritalin and amphetamine...have grossly harmful
impacts on the brain-reducing overall blood flow, disturbing glucose
metabolism and possibly causing permanent shrinkage or atrophy of the
UNSETTLED OUT OF COURT
In the wake of the Littleton shooting, we find that "the American
lawyers pundits and child psychologists are pointing the finger at
at video games like Doom, at inattentive parents, and at the availability of
guns. We have to wonder why almost no one is calling out these drugs. Is it
possible that the work of PR people is shaping the national response?
An instructive article, "Protecting
Prozac", by Michael Grinfeld in the
December 1998 California Laywer, opens several doors. Grinfeld notes that
the past year, nearly a dozen mg Prozac have disappeared from the court
record". He is talking about lawsuits against the manufacturer, Eli Lilly,
and he is saying that these cases have apparently been settled, without
trial, in such a quiet and final way, with such strict confidentiality that
it Is almost as if they never happened.
This smoothness, this invisibility, keeps the Press away and ...
the public, there has been "a long-term, unpublicised relationship between
the company that makes the most widely known ADD medication [Ritalin] and
nation's largest ADD support group".
also, most importantly, does not encourage other people to come
out of the
woodwork with lawyers and Prozac horror-stories of their own, because they
are not reading about $2 million or $10 million or $50 million settlements
paid out by Lilly.
Grinfeld details a set of manocuvres involving attorney Paul Smith who, in
the early 1990s1 became the lead plaintiffs counsel in the famous Fentress
case against Eli Lilly. The case made the accusation that Prozac had induced
murder. This was the first action involving Prozac to reach a trial and
so it would establish a major precedent for a large number of other pending
suits against the manufacturer. After what many people thought was a very
weak attack on Lilly by Smith, the jury came back in five hours with an easy
verdict favouring Lilly and Prozac.
Grinfeld writes: "Lilly's defense attorneys predicied the verdict
the death knell for [anti-]Prozac litigation."
But that wasn't the end of the Fentress case, even though Smith,
surprise of many, didn't appeal.
Rumors began to circulate that Smith had made several [prior]
with Lilly concerning the evidence that would be presented [in Fentress],
structure of a postverdict settlement, and the potential resolution of
Smith's other [anti-Prozac] cases. "
In other words, the rumours said: This lawyer made a deal with
present a weak attack, to omit evidence damaging to Prozac, so that the jury
would find Lilly innocent of all charges. In return for this, the case would
be settled secretly, with Lilly paying out monies to Smith's client. In this
way, Lilly would avoid the exposure of a public settlement, and through the
innocent verdict would discourage other potential plaintiffs from suing it
The rumours congealed. The Fentress case Judge, John Potter, asked
both sides if changed hands". He wanted to know if the fix was in. The
lawyers said no money had been paid, "without acknowledging that an
was in place".
Judge Potter didn't stop there. In April 1995, Grinfeld noted:
papers, Potter wrote that he was surprised that the plaintiff's attorneys
[Smith) hadn't introduced evidence that Lilly had been charged criminally
failing to report deaths from another of its drugs to the Food and Drug
Administration. Smith had fought hard [during the Fentress trial] to
Potter to admit that evidence, and then unaccountably withheld it".
In Judge Potter's motion, he alleged that "Lilly [in the Fentress
sought to buy not just the verdict, but the court's judgement as well".
In 1996, the Kentucky Supreme Court issued an opinion on all ...there
serious lack of candor with the trial court [during Fentress] and there may
have been deception, bad faith conduct, abuse of the judicial process or
perhaps even fraud."
After the Supreme Court remanded the Fentress case back to the
Attorney-General's office, the whole matter dribbled away, and then
resurfaced in a different form in another venue. At the time of the
California Lawyer article, a new action against Smith was unresolved.
If Eli Lilly went to extreme lengths to control suits against
stands to reason that drug companies could also try to deflect legal actions
by influencing how the Press, lawyers and public view these school
For example, accusing video games is acceptable, accusing guns is
accusing bad parents is acceptable. In fact, these causes, as I stated
INDUSTRY-FUNDED GROUPS PUSH DRUGS
In 1996, the PBS television series, The Merrow Report, produced
called ('Attention Deficit Disorder: A Dubious Diagnosis?" The Educational
Writers Association awarded the program first prize for investigative
reporting in that year. I can recall no other piece of television journalism
since the Vietnam War which has managed to capture, on film, government
officials in the act of realizing that they have made serious mistakes.
John Merrow, the series host, explains that, unknown to the public,
been "a long-term, unpublicised financial relationship between the company
that makes the most widely known ADD medication [Ritalin] and the nation's
largest ADD support group." The group is CHADD, based in Florida.
for Children and Adults with ADD. Its 650 local chapters
sponsor regional conferences and monthly meetings, often held at schools. It
educates thousands of families about ADD and ADHD and gives out free medical advice.
This advice features the drug Ritalin.
Since 1988, when CHADD and Ciba-Geigy (now Novartis), the manufacturer
Ritalin, began their financial relationship, Ciba-Geigy has given almost a
million dollars to CHADD helping it to expand its membership from 800 to
Merrow interviews several parents whose children are on Ritalin-parents
have been relying on CHADD for information. They are clearly taken aback
they learn that CHADD obtains a significant amount of its funding from the
drug company that makes Ritalin.
CHADD has used Ciba-Geigy money to promote its pharmaceutical
a public service announcement produced for television. Nineteen million
people have seen it. As Merrow says: "CHADD's name is on it, but Ciba-Geigy
paid for it."
It turns out that in all of CHADD's considerable literature written
public, there is rare mention of Ciba-Geigy. In fact, the only instance of
the connection Merrow could find on the record was a small print citation on
an announcement of a single CHADD conference.
In recounting CHADD's promotion of drug "therapy" for ADD, Merrow
"CHADD's literature also says psychostimulant medications [like Ritalin] are
Merrow brings this up with Gene Haslip, a DEA official in Washington.
is visibly annoyed. "Well," he says, very misleading. It's [Ritalin's]
certainly a drug that can cause a very high degree of dependency. like all
the very potent snmulants."
Merrow reveals that CHADD received a $750,OOO grant from the US Department
Education in 1996 to produce a video, Facing the Challenge of ADD. The video
doesn't just mention the generic name methylphenidate: it announces the drug
by its brand name, Ritalin. This, at government (taxpayer) expense.
In the case of the school shootings, has an attempt been made
to mould media
response, to highlight various causes and omit others?
When the national press is completely silent on medical drugs,
we have to
question the background on that. We have to. We have to ask: Why should this
horrendous factor be eliminated altogether from reporting to the nation?
Real action is going to have to come from the public. Parents
and Springfield and West Paducah and Jonesboro are going to have to ask the
hard questions and become relentless about getting real answers. They are
going to have to learn about these drugs. They'll have to learn which
children in the school shootings were on these drugs. They are going to have
to throw off robotic obedience to authorities in white coats. And they are
going to have to join together. If they do, many people will end up standing
Some sources of information:
* ADHD Action Group, telephone (212-769-2457.
* Dr Peter Breggin, psychiatrist, author and former full-time consultant
the National Institute of Mental Health, website: www.breggin.com.
* ICSPP News, telephone (301-652-5580), website: www.icspp.org. ICSPP News
publishes the following in bold letters: "Do Not Try to Abruptly Stop Taking
Psychiatric Drugs. When trying to withdraw from many psychiatric drugs
patients can develop serious and threatening reactions... Therefore,
withdrawal from psychiatric drugs should be done under medical
* Dr Joseph Tarantolo, psychiatrist, of the Washington chapter of the
of Psychoanalytic Physic phone (301-652-5580).
* The Merrow Report: to order transcript or videotape, telephone
* The Truth Seeker Foundation, P0 Box 28550, San Diego, California 92198,
USA, telephone (619-676-0430), fax (619-676-0433), e-mail , website . The
Foundation sponsors investigations into vital matters that have not risen to
the level of open public debate. It believes that in order to solve serious
human problems, we must commit ourselves to uncovering deeper strata of
that underlie public events, news and political discourse. Only in this way
can we all create a more just future.
About the Author:
Jon Rappoport has worked as an investigative reporter for 15 years.
written articles on politics, medicine and health for Spin, Stern, Village
Voice, In These Times and a number of other magazines and newspapers in the
United States and Europe. In 1982, the LA Weekly placed his name in
nomination for the Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the military takeover
at the University of El Salvador. Mr Rappoport is the author of Oklahoma
Bombing, Madalyn Murray O'Hair, and AIDS Inc,, a widely praised critique of
the original research behind HlV.