postpartum depression and pharmaceutical companies
Mother's Act Promotes Pregnancy as RX Cottage Industry
part 1 of 2 in Compleat Mother Issue #89
                           by Evelyn Pringle, Green Bay, Wisconsin

Women of childbearing years represent the most lucrative market for the
makers of psychiatric drugs. The knowledge that infants were being born with
birth defects and suffering a withdrawal syndrome when these drugs were used
during pregnancy was hidden for decades. Knowledge of these terrible risks
would have caused a major drop in sales to this customer base.

Ever since the warnings about birth defects started trickling out a few
years ago, the drug companies apparently have been plotting to find ways to
reverse their negative impact. But the most sinister plot ever developed is
a bill moving for approval in the US Senate right now called the "Melanie
Blocker-Stokes Mother's Act," to set up the screening of all pregnant women
for mental illness.

The bill is promoted under the ruse of screening for postpartum depression.
But a true picture of the target population of this massive drug pushing
scheme is evident in the propaganda submitted to support the passage of the
original bill in the US House of Representatives and the programs already in
place in various states.

The legislation was first introduced in the House in January 2007 by
Illinois Democrat Bobby Rush. Under "Background and Need for Legislation,"
House Report 110-375 states in part: "Depression is twice as common in women
as it is in men, with its peak incidence during the primary reproductive
years--ages 25 to 45. Because women are more likely to experience depression
during these years, they are especially vulnerable to developing depression
during pregnancy and after childbirth."

In February 2007, the "Postpartum Mood Disorders Prevention Act," was
introduced in Illinois. The orchestrated attempts to pass this bill included
planting reports in the media with claims that pregnant women at risk for a
whole list of mental disorders. For instance, on March 1, 2007 an article in
the Naperville Sun stated:

"New moms face increased risks for not only postpartum depression, but also
bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety and
other disorders, according to one of the largest studies of psychiatric
illness after childbirth."

The websites set up by the industry-backed front groups supporting the
Mother's Act have links to programs that claim new mothers need to be
screened for "postpartum" depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia,
psychosis, anxiety disorder, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder,
post traumatic stress disorder, and eating disorders.

When extending the drug-net to all pregnant women, the groups omit the term
"postpartum" and claim women need to be screened for "perinatal" (which
means both before and following birth) disorders. In December 2007, Illinois
enacted ""The Perinatal Mental Health Disorders Prevention and Treatment
Act," with the stated purpose "to increase awareness and to promote early
detection and treatment of perinatal depression."

But here again, the mention of "depression" only is deceiving because the
websites of hospitals in Illinois show they are screening for the entire
gamut of disorders mentioned above. Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital in
Downers Grove offers "Perinatal Depression Support Services."

"Any woman who is thinking about becoming pregnant, is pregnant, or had a
baby within the past year can be affected by depression or other mood
disorders," their website says.

"Mental health screening under the guise of identifying individuals who are
impaired from some supposed mental disturbance is typically simply another
front for pharmaceutical marketing," according to Dr. Bose Revenel,
co-author with psychologist John Rosemond of the new book, The Diseasing of
America's Children.

Most are funded or the initiative is provided via pharmaceutical companies
and medications are typically promoted as a supposed "solution" he says.

"The problem here is that, among other things, the drugs promoted have been
shown to have potentially serious side effects and their effectiveness
compared to placebo only trivial," Dr. Revenel reports.

"Furthermore," he says, "the campaign ignores safe and potentially effective
interventions such as dietary and nutritional changes and supplements as
well as cognitive therapy - all of which are completely free of potential
adverse effects, with effectiveness that rivals or exceeds that of the

"If the screening only picked up women likely to benefit from treatment,
then maybe it would be justified," says Dr David Healy, a leading expert on
psychiatric drugs from the UK and author of The Creation of

"But screening will pick up a quarter or a third or more of all pregnant
women and will lead to many of these being treated who do not need
treatment," he warns. "Over 25% of women might be diagnosed where very few of those are likely to need treatment."

Although no psychotropic drug has FDA approval for use during pregnancy, the
recommended treatment for all these so-called "disorders" consists of the
newest most expensive antidepressants, antipsychotics, and anticonvulsants.
The common practice is to prescribe three or four different drugs at a time
for years on end.

The antipsychotics that will benefit as a result of the Mother's Act include
Seroquel by AstraZeneca, Risperdal marketed by Janssen, a division of
Johnson & Johnson, Geodon by Pfizer, Abilify from Bristol-Myers Squibb,
Novartis' Clozaril, and Eli Lilly's Zyprexa.

Lilly also sells two antidepressants, Prozac and Cymbalta, and Symbyax, a
combination of Zyprexa and Prozac. The other SSRI (selective serotonin
reuptake inhibitor) and SNRI (selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor)
antidepressants include GlaxoSmithKline's Paxil and Wellbutrin, Pfizer's
Zoloft, Celexa and Lexapro from Forest Labs, Luvox by Solvay, and Wyeth's

APA -American Psychiatric Association
CNN -Cable News Network
DBSA -Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
FDA -Food and Drug Administration
MHA -Mental Health America
NAMI -National Alliance for Mental Illness
PPD -postpartum depression
PPHN -persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn
PSI -Postpartum Support International
SSRI -selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor
SNRI -selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor

Pregnancy as a cottage industry

New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez is the lead sponsor of the Mother's Act in the Senate. New Jersey is home to a long list of drug companies. The bill
was first introduced in May 2007, but was stuck in committee until Senate
Majority Leader Harry Reid introduced an $11 billion omnibus package called
"Advancing America's Priorities Act." Senator Reid tried to get the Act
passed on July 22, 2008 by slipping it in the omnibus, but failed.

The Act is supported by a drug-funded coalition bent on turning pregnancy
into a cottage industry. On September 25, 2008, Susan Dowd Stone, a member
of "Postpartum Support International (PSI)," self-described as the "bill's
lead organizational sponsor," issued a Legislation Update, obviously to pump
out propaganda through the internet.

"Hundreds of thousands of women across the country suffer at the hands of
postpartum depression every year, and they deserve better than the
ideological games being played with legislation intended to bring them
relief," Senator Menendez declares in the Update.

"This is a cause I am committed to seeing through, and I will continue to
stand up on behalf of mothers suffering from this condition until the
blockade is cleared," he vows.

"We will again await its inevitable passage at the next Congressional
session when reason may more strongly prevail," Ms Stone writes in the

A gal named Katherine Stone runs the "Postpartum Progress" blog, described
as the "most widely-read blog in the United States on these illnesses." She
serves on PSI's board of directors as the public relations outreach

Her blog provides links to the "Top Women's PPMD Treatment Programs &
Specialists."  Dr Shari Lusskin is listed as a "top" specialist. She is an
advisory council member for PSI. On her website under "Pregnancy-related
Mood Disorders," the standard talking point about "pregnancy related mood
disorders" being prevalent is restated as follows:

"Panic Disorder, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive
Disorder, and Eating Disorders may also develop or worsen during pregnancy
and postpartum. Women with Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, or
Schizoaffective Disorder are particularly vulnerable during pregnancy and

A May 28, 2005 presentation brochure shows Dr Lusskin is a paid speaker for
Glaxo, AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Wyeth.

The postpartum blogs are also used to sell books written by the "experts"
and promote drug company funded conferences. For instance, on May 13, 2008,
Postpartum Progress put out an ad for a June 25, 2008 conference at the
University of Minnesota, titled, "Motherhood, Mood Disorders & Anxiety:
Before & After Pregnancy." The listed sponsors included AstraZeneca and the
National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI), the most notorious industry
backed front group on the planet.

Eli Lilly is logically the top giver to NAMI and many other front groups
because it has the most drugs to peddle. Several class action lawsuits
currently filed against Lilly specifically allege that Lilly funneled money
to NAMI to aid in the off-label marketing of Zyprexa.

Between 2003 and 2005, Lilly donated $3 million to NAMI, according to the
May 28, 2006 Philadelphia Inquirer. Lilly's disclosure records show NAMI
groups received more than $700,000 from the company in the first quarter of
2008. NAMI's 2007 Annual Report lists Abbott Labs, AstraZeneca,
Bristol-Myers, Eli Lilly, Forest Labs, Glaxo, Janssen, Pfizer, Wyeth and
Solvay as "Corporate Partners."

The NAMI website reports that the "National Depression Screening Day" and
the "Stop a Suicide Today" campaign are endorsed by the American Psychiatric
Association and are conducted in partnership with the American Association
of Suicidology, Suicide Prevention Action Network USA, the National Suicide
Prevention Lifeline, Suicide Prevention Resource Center, and Mental Health

In 2006, the pharmaceutical industry accounted for about 30% of the American
Psychiatric Association's $62.5 million in financing, according to the July
12, 2008 New York Times. Lilly's first quarter grant report for 2007 shows
Lilly provided the APA with two grants worth over $412,000. The Suicide
Prevention Action Network received $10,000 from Lilly in the first quarter
of 2007.

Mental Health America's annual report shows the group received over $1
million from Bristol-Myers, Lilly and Wyeth in 2006. Janssen and Pfizer gave
between $500,000 and $1,000,000, and AstraZeneca and Forest Labs donated
between $100,000 and $499,000. Glaxo gave the group between $50,000 and
$100,000 in 2006.

To be continued. Part two of Ms. Pringle's article on the pharmaceutical
industry's ties to the Mother's Act will be published in Compleat Mother
issue #90.

Evelyn Pringle is a columnist for Scoop Independent News and an
investigative journalist focused on exposing corruption in government and
corporate America.

Written as part of the SSRI Litigation Round-Up, Sponsored by Baum, Hedlund,
Aristei & Goldman's Pharmaceutical Litigation Department

part 2 of 2 in Compleat Mother Issue #90
postpartum depression and pharmaceutical companies

Motheršs Act Promotes Pregnancy as RX Cottage Industry
                           by Evelyn Pringle, Green Bay, Wisconsin

Women of childbearing years represent the most lucrative market for the
makers of psychiatric drugs. The knowledge that infants were being born with
birth defects and suffering a withdrawal syndrome when these drugs were used
during pregnancy was hidden for decades. Knowledge of these terrible risks
would have caused a major drop in sales to this customer base.
(Part one is in issue #89 of Compleat Mother Magazine.)

Other funding sources listed on the Mental Health America (MHA) website
include three treatment centers for eating disorders with links to their
websites. The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated
Disorders estimates that the average cost of private inpatient treatment is
$30,000 or more a month, according to an April 27, 2006 report by Women's

On May 21, 2008, the president of the Depression and Bipolar Support
Alliance (DBSA), Sue Bergeson, posted a message on,
saying Illinois Senator Dick Durbin's office had called to say they were
having "a hard time making headway" with the Mother's Act. She informed
readers that "more than 800,000 women will develop a diagnosable postpartum
mood disorder this year! And this number doesn't include the 7.5% of women
who will develop major depression during pregnancy."

At the end of the article, Ms Bergeson provided a link and urged people to
take "30 seconds" to send a letter to their Senators.

The 2006 Annual Report of DBSA shows AstraZeneca gave the group more than
$500,000 in 2006. Companies that donated between $150,000 and $499,000
include Abbott, Bristol-Myers and Wyeth. Forest Labs, Glaxo, Janssen,
Pfizer, and Shire Pharmaceuticals each gave between $10,000 and $149,000.
Lilly is listed in the section titled, "Matching Gift Companies," in the

Battle lines drawn

A number of influential advocacy groups have come out against the Mother's
Act including the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and
Psychology, Alliance for Human Research Protection, International Coalition
For Drug Awareness, Law Project for Psychiatric Rights, Mindfreedom
International, AbleChild and the National Association for Rights, Protection
and Advocacy.

The website, is run by Amy Philo, the Texas mother at the
forefront of the "Unite for Life" campaign against the Act. Amy's story
provides a poster perfect example of what will happen to hundreds of
thousands of women all over the county if the bill is passed.

Amy was labeled mentally ill and told she needed to be on drugs by a nurse
making a home visit simply because she got very upset after watching her
first-born infant almost choke to death a few days after he was born.

When she followed the nurse's advice and went to the doctor, the Ob-Gyn
would not even take two minutes to listen to Amy talk about what had
happened or allow her to explain why she was experiencing such over-whelming fear and anxiety.

Instead of viewing this young mother's reaction to the near-death of her
infant as a normal response, the doctor told her she had a panic attack and
sent her home with samples packets of the antidepressant, Zoloft, to prevent
postpartum depression, apparently expecting her to get over her traumatic
experience by taking a pill.

There were no warning labels on the samples and the doctor did not alert Amy
to any of the potential side effects. "He told me Zoloft was perfectly safe
for me and the baby and it would make my baby happy too," she recalls.

Within three days, the Zoloft pushed Amy into a state where she started
having thoughts of first killing her baby and later of killing her husband,
her mother, herself and even her pets. When Amy confessed to having these
thoughts, instead of recognizing the side effects of  Zoloft and stopping
the drug, the medical professionals upped the dose, locked her up in a
mental ward away from her baby, and tried to add Zyprexa, to the mix.

They never told Amy why they wanted her to take Zyprexa, but the sheet they
gave her said it was for schizophrenia, she recalls. Amy refused to take it
because she wanted to nurse and was afraid the drug would harm the baby.

She finally lied her way out of the hospital by claiming she no longer had
the bizarre thoughts because she wanted to be with her baby and family. But
in reality, Amy battled the obsession with suicide and homicide for months
waiting for Zoloft to work.

"The constant ideas of homicide were followed by thoughts of suicide to
protect my son from me," she says. "I never had thoughts like this in my
life before I took Zoloft."

They also tried to get Amy to take the sleeping pill, Ambien, the
anti-anxiety drug, Klonopin, and Celexa, another antidepressant, even though
she was nursing. "I always just said no to those," Amy says.

The Ob-Gyn told Amy that she might have to remain on Zoloft for life and
without the drug she was not in control enough to have more children. The
pediatrician told her, "what's really scary is that PPD seems to get worse
each time and you have a 90% chance of getting it after your next baby," she

She finally quit taking the Zoloft against medical advice and the obsessive
thoughts of homicide and suicide stopped and never returned. Amy and her
husband have since had a second child with no problem whatsoever without the Zoloft.

She recently obtained copies of her medical records, which show she was
labeled with obsessive-compulsive disorder and major depression. Those
stigmatizing labels will remain in her records forever with no
acknowledgment that Zoloft caused the ordeal.

"Antidepressant-induced mania commonly results in a false diagnosis of a new
disorder leading to stigmatization and a possible lifetime of unnecessary,
harmful treatment with drugs," says Dr. Peter Breggin, author of the new
book, Medication Madness, and the man often referred to as the "conscience
of psychiatry."

Drug companies have a big financial incentive to promote these drugs.
According to, a 30-day supply of 20 mg Zyprexa costs $725.93.
A 30-day supply of 100 mg Zoloft is $104.84. Klonopin costs $65.93 for
30-days of 2 mg tablets. The price of a 30-day supply of 10 mg Ambien is
$145.99, and 20 mg Celexa costs $96.99 for 30-days. Amy's two-day stay in
the mental ward cost her family's insurance company about $8,000 and an $800
co-payment for Amy and her husband.

The assertion that all these sick women are going without treatment is
absurd. More prescriptions are written for psychiatric drugs every year in
this country than for antibiotics or diabetes medications. On June 30, 2008,
CNN Money reported that, for the "sixth year in a row," antidepressants were
the number one class of drugs prescribed in the US in 2007. CNN cited a
report by the pharmacy benefit manager, Medco Health Solutions, that said
16% of women ages 20-44 take antidepressants.

APA -American Psychiatric Association
CNN -Cable News Network
DBSA -Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance
FDA -Food and Drug Administration
MHA -Mental Health America
NAMI -National Alliance for Mental Illness
PPD -postpartum depression
PPHN -persistent pulmonary hypertension of the newborn
PSI -Postpartum Support International
SSRI -selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor
SNRI -selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor

In 2007, the branded atypical antipsychotics generated $15.9 billion in
manufacturer sales in the seven major global markets, with $12.3 billion of
those sales in the US, according to an April 2008 report by Sandra Chow on
the Decision Resources website.

Thousands of infants harmed

In a September 18, 2008 letter to members of Congress urging them to vote
against the Mother's Act, Unite For Life reported that the estimated number
of antidepressant-caused infant deaths and injuries over the past four years, based on data from the FDA's MedWatch, were: 4,360 babies born with
serious or life-threatening birth defects; 4,160 babies born with potentially fatal heart defects or heart disease; 2,900 spontaneous abortions; and 3,000 premature births.

The so-called experts supporting the Mother's Act constantly minimize the
risks. However, a study titled, "Acute Neonatal Effects of Cocaine Exposure
During Pregnancy," in the September 2005 Archives of Pediatric and
Adolescent Medicine describes adverse effects for cocaine exposed babies
eerily similar to those in babies born to mothers taking antidepressants:

"Several central and autonomic nervous system findings, which included
hypertonia, jitteriness or tremors, high-pitched cry, difficulty arousing,
irritability, excessive suck, and hyperalertness, were noted more frequently
on the initial physical examination in the cocaine-exposed cohort. During
the hospitalization, the diagnoses of seizures and autonomic instability
were more frequently noted in cocaine-exposed infants."

   The warnings and precautions section on current labeling for SSRIs and
SNRIs contains the following statement: Neonates exposed "late in the third
trimester have developed complications requiring prolonged hospitalization,
respiratory support, and tube feeding.  ... Reported clinical findings have included respiratory distress, cyanosis, apnea, seizures, temperature instability, feeding difficulty, vomiting, hypoglycemia, hypotonia, hypertonia, hyperreflexia, tremor, jitteriness, irritability, and constant crying. These features are consistent with either a direct toxic effect of SSRIs and SNRIs or, possibly, a drug discontinuation syndrome."

Besides the agony endured by these infants and their families, the
additional medical costs are enormous. In 2005, commercial insurers paid an
average of $4,247 per day for babies in neonatal intensive care, according
to Thomson Healthcare. Direct health care costs for a premature baby average
$41,610 or 15 times higher than the $2,830 for a healthy, full-term
delivery, a March of Dimes May 2007 report on Preterm Birth estimates.

Advocates of the Mother's Act claim mental illness poses a greater risk to
the mother than drug use to fetus. "The problem with this claim is that
there is no consideration for the immense stress a mother has to endure when
her baby is sick due to this drug use," says Kate Gillespie, an attorney who
handles birth defect litigation at the Los Angeles based Baum, Hedlund,
Aristei & Goldman law firm.

"Not to mention the far greater stress that is created by having to
constantly deal with life and death health [medical] issues, like severe
heart defects and respiratory problems, such as persistent pulmonary
hypertension of the newborn (PPHN), caused by SSRI medication," she notes.

Baum Hedlund is currently representing over 200 families whose babies were
born with birth defects ranging from congenital heart defects to PPHN after
the mothers used SSRIs.

Part 1 of this article was published in issue #89 of Compleat Mother
Magazine. Evelyn Pringle is a columnist for Scoop Independent News and an
investigative journalist focused on exposing corruption in government and
corporate America.
[email protected] 

Written as part of the SSRI Litigation Round-Up, Sponsored by Baum, Hedlund,
Aristei & Goldman's Pharmaceutical Litigation Department

References: HL0812/S00107.htm html?path=HL0812/S00107.htm#a


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