Showing posts with label medication warnings. Show all posts
Showing posts with label medication warnings. Show all posts

Thursday, March 21, 2019

New depression treatment from VA can cause suicidal thoughts? Seriously?

VA to Offer New Ketamine-Based Nasal Spray for Depression
Patricia Kime
March 20, 2019
As with any other medication, there are risks. Spravato carries a boxed warning for side effects that include misuse, the reason it is administered under a doctor's supervision. The list of side effects includes sedation and blood pressure spikes and disassociation, such as feelings of physical paralysis and out-of-body experiences. It also can cause suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
The newest FDA-approved medication to treat severe depression, a nasal spray based on the anesthetic (and misused hallucinogenic party drug) ketamine, will soon be available to veterans treated within the Department of Veterans Affairs.

In a move that may help thousands of former service members with depression that has not improved with other treatments, VA officials announced Tuesday that the department's doctors are now authorized to prescribe Spravato, the brand name for esketamine, a molecular variation of ketamine.
read more here

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Prazosin study may be making suicide thoughts stronger

Study shows drug commonly prescribed to veterans could be making suicidal thoughts worse

WSET ABC 13 News
by Kathleen Jacob
February 19th 2019
One of those medications is Prazosin, a blood pressure medication that a VA doctor prescribed him to help with nightmares. “I didn’t wanna go to sleep. There are times I didn’t wanna lie down. I just didn’t want to go to sleep,” Sgt. Chapman said. Over time, he realized his nightmares weren't getting any better. In fact, he said they got worse.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) — A drug treating PTSD in our veterans could be killing them. Prazosin is a blood pressure medication commonly prescribed to treat PTSD nightmares, according to a WZTV news investigation. Only two drugs are approved by the FDA to treat PTSD, and Prazosin is not one of them.

Retired Sgt. Allen Chapman said he takes 10 pills a day to treat depression, PTSD, and all the other side effects that come with working in a war zone overseas.

“I’ve got so many medications, it takes a while to take them all in the morning,” Sgt. Chapman said.

He served in the 230th Signal Company of the National Guard. He spent time in Afghanistan from 2011-2012.

“When you get back, you’re used to all that high-speed stuff and then people here, people are just slow,” Sgt. Chapman said.

It's one of the reasons readjusting is so hard, and why Sgt. Chapman went to the VA for help.
Sgt. John Toombs took a video of himself on an early November morning in 2016.

“I went to the VA for help and they opened up a Pandora's box inside me and just kicked me out the door,” Toombs said in the video.
read more here

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Canada Veterans Need to Look At US Reports on Mefloquine

In 2008 the VA issued a warning about Mefloquine, and there are other stories on this report going back to 2002.

Senator Dianne Feinstein wanted answers from Donald Rumsfeld in 2003
Veterans, families want answers over Forces' use of Mefloquine
Toronto Sun crime reporter Chris Doucette. (Sun files)
By Chris Doucette, Toronto Sun
Monday, January 23, 2017

The call for accountability over the Canadian Forces’ use of a controversial anti-malaria drug is growing louder and veterans and family members hope Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will hear their cries for help.

A former medic who served in Somalia, the wife of a soldier disgraced in the Somalia Affair, the mother of a soldier who killed himself in Rwanda and a doctor with expertise in the neuropsychiatric effects of Mefloquine toxicity recently submitted written statements to the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs outlining the drugs’ devastation.

Marj Matchee writes her husband, Clayton, suffered paranoia and hallucinations prior to his 1993 arrest for the deadly beating of a Somali teen.

“You see things when you sleep. You see it in the daytime too,” she recalls him saying.

Many veterans who were forced to take the drug before it was licensed still suffer from side effects that Health Canada and AA Pharma, the Canadian supplier of the drug, quietly added to Mefloquine’s warning label last year.

“We must do more to reach out to these veterans, to acknowledge the harms that Mefloquine has caused them, and commit to funding research to study and ultimately try to reverse these effects,” Matchee writes.

Dr. Remington Nevin, of Johns Hopkins University, says Mefloquine toxicity can cause brain damage that mimics PTSD, so sufferers may receive the wrong treatment and symptoms such as suicidal thoughts persist.
read more here
These may help their case
Lariam Psychiatric and Suicidal Side Effects Research shows the anti-malaria drug mefloquine hydrochloride—formerly sold under the brand name Lariam—might cause psychiatric abnormalities, suicidal ideations and behaviors, and potentially permanent nerve damage. Because of these psychiatric side effects, the drug’s manufacturer, Hoffmann-La Roche, pulled it from the market in 2008. The U.S. Army continued to administer it to soldiers, however, until 2011, when the army ceased prescribing Lariam even for soldiers deployed in malaria-prone regions such as Afghanistan. In July 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notified the public that mefloquine products’ drug labels would be updated with a black box warning—the agency’s most serious kind—concerning the aforementioned side effects.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Australian Defence Force Face Off With Soldiers Over Lariam

Former soldiers, families face military officials in Townsville over anti-malaria drug side effects
ABC Australia
By Jesse Dorsett
Updated yesterday at 7:28pm

PHOTO: Mefloquine, also known as Lariam, is known to cause mental health problems.
(Flickr: David Davies)

The military's top brass has come face to face with former soldiers and their families suffering depression and anxiety after being given controversial anti-malaria drugs on deployment.
Key points: 2,000 ADF personnel given anti-malaria drug in East Timor over five years
Drug side effects include mood swings and suicidal thoughts
ADF says they did not know drugs would produce chronic problems
A forum has been held in Townsville, in north Queensland, to give former soldiers, ex-service organisations and health professional the chance to discuss the effects of anti-malaria medication Mefloquine, as well as the drug Tafenoquine.
Nearly 2,000 Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel were prescribed Mefloquine, also known as Lariam, primarily in East Timor, between July 2000 and June 2015.

The drug is known to cause agitation, mood swings, panic attacks, confusion, hallucinations, aggression, psychosis and suicidal thoughts in a small number of patients.

Another 492 took Tafenoquine as part of a trial in 2000 and 2001.
read more here and remember US soldiers took it too!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Cancer Painkiller Used for PTSD Linked to Deaths

Cancer Painkiller Blamed for Hundreds of Deaths
Pain News Network
By Pat Anson, Editor
December 03, 2015

An Arizona drug maker that developed a powerful painkiller for cancer patients falsified records so the drug would be prescribed to non-cancer pain patients, possibly resulting in hundreds of overdose deaths, according to a new report by the Southern Investigative Reporting Foundation.

Subsys has FDA approval for breakthrough cancer pain, but Insys Therapeutics allegedly misled insurers into paying for the drug and encouraged off-label prescribing for patients suffering from conditions such as joint pain and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Subsys is a fentanyl based spray-on painkiller, said to be 100 times stronger than morphine.

The new report, headlined “Murder Incorporated,” adds to the growing body of evidence and critical media reports about the aggressive business tactics of Insys Therapeutics. Last month CNBC accused the company of “putting profits before patients as it makes millions off your pain.”
read more here

And then we have this piece of news from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
What SIDE EFFECTS can this medicine cause?
Fentanyl may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
pain on the right side of your stomach
dry mouth
decreased appetite
uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body
difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
loss of appetite
back pain
increased sweating
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms or those listed in the IMPORTANT WARNING or SPECIAL PRECAUTIONS section, call your doctor immediately:
heartbeat that is slower or faster than normal
hallucinations (seeing things or hearing voices that do not exist)

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Soldier Given Stimulants in Combat Linked to PTSD Risk

Pentagon study links prescription stimulants to military PTSD risk
LA Times
Alan Zarembo
November 19, 2015
Those who had been prescribed multiple stimulants and the biggest supplies of the drugs were the most likely to have PTSD.
Stimulant medications used to treat attention deficit problems and keep service members alert during long stretches of combat might increase vulnerability to post-traumatic stress disorder, a new study suggests.

Defense Department researchers analyzing data from nearly 26,000 service members found that those with prescriptions for the stimulants were five times more likely to have PTSD.

Drugs such as Adderall and Ritalin raise concentrations of the brain chemical norepinephrine, which has been shown to result in more vivid and persistent memories of emotionally charged situations.

Traumatic memories are a hallmark of PTSD.

"When you take a stimulant, you enhance learning," said Dr. Richard Friedman, a psychiatrist at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York, who was not part of the study. "PTSD is form of learning. Traumatic experiences hijack circuits in the brain."
read more here

If you want to know what the Army knew read this and get an eye opener.

In is from March of 2009


1-6. Combat and operational stress behavior is the term that is used to describe the full spectrum of combat and operational stress that Soldiers are exposed to throughout their military experience.

1-7. Soldiers—especially leaders—must learn to recognize the symptoms and take steps to prevent or reduce the disruptive effects of combat and operational stress.

1-8. Combat and operational stress is a reality of all military missions. It is important to understand that combat and operational experiences affect all Soldiers and reflect all activities that Soldiers are exposed to throughout the length of their military service whether it is a complete career or a single enlistment. Combat and operational stress can occur during missions in both garrison and deployed assignments.

1-9. Combat stressors include singular incidents that have the potential to significantly impact the unit or Soldiers experiencing them. They may come from a range of possible sources while performing military missions. Operational stressors may include multiple combat stressors or prolonged exposures due to continued operations in hostile environments. Combat and operational stressors have a combined effect that results in COSRs. See Table 1-1 for examples of both combat stressors and operational stressors.

1-10. Most Soldiers are resilient and work through their COSB experiences. The resiliency displayed by these Soldiers is what we refer to as mental toughness or Battlemind.

1-11. Battlemind skills, developed in military training, provide Soldiers and leaders the inner strength to face fear, adversity, and hardship during combat with confidence and resolution and the will to persevere and win.

1-12. No amount of training can totally prepare a Soldier for the realities of combat. Sometimes even the strongest Soldiers are affected so severely that they will need additional help. Combat and operational stress behavior experiences will impact every Soldier in some way. Just because a Soldier may not be affected by a specific event, it does not mean that every Soldier in the unit is handling the stress in the same way.

1-13. Soldiers surveyed in Iraq indicated that those who experienced the most combat were the most likely to screen positive for a BH problem, including PTSD. Nearly one-third of Soldiers operating outside the wire may be experiencing severe negative symptoms related to combat and operational stress exposure. This can potentially affect the unit’s mission capability.

1-14. In fact, current research shows Soldiers continue to struggle with negative PCOS symptoms long after redeployment. Soldiers do not reset quickly after coming home and up to 17 percent of returned veterans may continue to struggle with negative PCOS effects even 12 months after coming home.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

VA Opiate Overuse Subject of Another Senate Hearing

Marine’s overdose death sparking VA opiate debate 
Stars and Stripes
By Travis J. Tritten
Published: June 24, 2015
"My son had an addiction with pain meds and yet they put my son back on pain meds,” said Marv Simcakoski, his father. “They sent him home with 50 some [pills] and told him to take them regularly.”
Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., speaks at a press conference about the Jason Simcakoski Memorial Opioid Safety Act at the U.S. Capitol, June 24, 2015. Behind her are Jason Simcakoski's father, Marv; mother, Linda; daughter, Anaya; and widow, Heather. JOE GROMELSKI/STARS AND STRIPES
WASHINGTON — Nearly a year after his death, Marine Corps veteran Jason Simcakoski was at the center of a debate on Capitol Hill on Wednesday over new regulations for opioid prescriptions at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

His parents, widow and daughter watched as a Senate committee weighed an overhaul bill, sponsored by a Wisconsin senator, designed to curb overdose deaths at the state’s Tomah VA and other medical centers across the country. It was a crucial first step for the legislation, though many hurdles remain and its future is uncertain.

Simcakoski died at Tomah in August after a toxic reaction to more than 12 medications including opiates. He has become the face of what veteran groups and other advocates say is an epidemic of dangerous opioid prescriptions to VA patients.
read more here

Sunday, March 15, 2015

VA "Candy Land" Pill Push Spread Tragedy

Devastating effect of ‘Candy Land’ VA hospital reach beyond veterans 
La Crosse Tribune
Aaron Glantz Center for Investigative
Reporting March 15, 2015
Others happened when prescription abuse accelerated into heroin addiction. This progression, seen around the country, contributes to a fatal overdose rate among VA patients that the agency’s researchers have pegged at twice the national average.
On a clear August morning, Amish carpenter William Miller and his family climbed into their black horse-drawn buggy and headed out to the nearest big-box store, a 16-mile journey from their central Wisconsin farm that takes them two hours.

They never made it. Less than a mile from their destination, the buggy was rear-ended by a 1997 Dodge Caravan. The van wasn’t moving fast, but as it passed by, it suddenly swerved, knocking the carriage on its side. Miller and his son, John, were fine. But his wife, Elizabeth, who was cradling 6-week-old Ada Mae, was thrown from the carriage and landed on top of her daughter.

Ada Mae stopped breathing. An autopsy would list the cause of death as “crush injury to the chest.”

A year later, after the driver pleaded guilty to homicide, William Miller wrote to the sentencing judge.

“Words like grief, helplessness, anxiety, fear and lonesomeness come to mind,” he wrote. “I would have scarcely thought it possible such a small infant could have left such a void. And the consequences and results have been far reaching and long lasting.”

At first glance, the 2009 crash that killed Ada Mae would seem to have nothing to do with problems at the Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in Tomah 60 miles away, which earned the nickname “Candy Land” for its skyrocketing rate of opiate prescriptions. Some veterans called its chief of staff, psychiatrist Dr. David Houlihan, the “Candy Man.” He was in charge for nearly a decade — and was one of the hospital’s top prescribers.

But the man behind the wheel of the Dodge van that day was a Marine Corps veteran, and he was stoned on painkillers and tranquilizers from the Tomah VA. Brian Witkus was a known addict who “would fall or injure himself,” court records say, to get “more pills or a higher dose of medication.” His doctor, Witkus says, was Houlihan.

Ada Mae’s death is one of dozens of tragedies that begin to hint at how the flood of narcotics from the VA scarred this region.

It begins with the veterans themselves, who have become addled and addicted and who have overdosed. The collateral damage ranges from distraught sisters to fatherless children and dead girlfriends.

The ripples do not stop there.
read more here

Driver gets prison time in fatal buggy crash

Monday, March 2, 2015

Fitness Seeker? Want Prozac With That?

Pulled twice from exchanges, OxyElite Pro supplement now found to contain Prozac drug 
Stars and Stripes
By Travis J. Tritten
Published: March 2, 2015

WASHINGTON — A fitness supplement that was twice pulled from exchange store shelves, first following soldier deaths and then after an outbreak of liver disease, has now been found to contain the active ingredient in the prescription drug Prozac, the Food and Drug Administration announced Saturday.

OxyElite Pro Super Thermogenic is sold as a weight-loss supplement, but the FDA said it has discovered the product contains fluoxetine, a drug used in treating mental disorders such as depression, bulimia and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Fluoxetine and other drugs in its class can have serious side effects such as suicidal thinking, seizures and abnormal bleeding, the FDA said in its warning. The agency said consumers should not buy or use OxyElite Pro.

The Marine Corps Exchange, the Navy Exchange and the Army and Air Force Exchange Service said Monday that they do not stock it.

The supplement was first pulled from military bases in 2011 after it and other supplements were found to contain the unregulated synthetic stimulant methylhexanamine, known as DMAA, which was suspected in the deaths of two soldiers at Fort Bliss, Texas.
read more here

Monday, February 23, 2015

Baldwin Sat on Report Others Pretended They Didn't Know Years Ago

"Sen. Baldwin had Tomah VA report for months" was the headline on the use of opiates as if it was anything new. None of this is new but it seems as if some bloggers have just discovered this issue. The story was linked on a report Town had up Sunday but as you can see, it is far from new and it appears that there have been many politicians just sitting on what they knew, since nothing was done about any of it.
"In September, the Center for Investigative Reporting revealed that VA prescriptions for four opiates - hydrocodone, oxycodone, methadone and morphine - surged 270 percent from 2001 to 2012. That far outpaced the increase in the number of VA patients and contributed to a fatal overdose rate that the agency's researchers put at nearly double the national average."

That was reported in 2013 by Aaron Glantz, Center for Investigative Reporting. The kicker was that also in the same report was the stunning admission of doctors writing prescriptions for these drugs without seeing the patient. Glantz followed that report up with another testimony told this part of what was going on.
"There are multiple instances when I have been coerced or even ordered to write for Schedule II narcotics when it was against my medical judgment," said Dr. Pamela Gray, a physician who formerly worked at the VA hospital in Hampton, Va. Primary care doctors who don't want to prescribe large amounts of opiates may resign, do as they are told or be terminated, Gray said. Gray was fired.
Dr. Robert Jesse gave testimony to the House Veterans Affairs Committee
Hearing on 10/10/2013: Between Peril and Promise: Facing the Dangers of VA’s Skyrocketing Use of Prescription Painkillers to Treat Veterans
"We also know that the long-term use of opioids is associated with significant risks, particularly in vulnerable individuals, such as Veterans with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), depression, Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and family stress – all common in Veterans returning from the battlefield, and in Veterans with addiction disorders. Chronic pain in Veterans is often accompanied by co-morbid mental health conditions (up to 50 percent in some cohorts) caused by the psychological trauma of war, as well as neurological disorders, such as TBI caused by blast and concussion injuries. In fact, one study documented that more that 40 percent of Veterans admitted to a polytrauma unit in VHA suffered all three conditions together – chronic pain, PTSD, and post-concussive syndrome."

But as bad as all this is, the reports of troops being medicated while still in the military have been going on longer.

Investigation needed Ambien and military use

Links to medications suspected with non-combat deaths

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Marine Afghanistan Veteran died from drug toxicity from one of his prescriptions

Marine sniper Rob Richards died from drug toxicity: autopsy
Marine Corps Times
By Hope Hodge Seck
Staff writer
December 1, 2014
Robert Richards, who was found dead in his home in Jacksonville, N.C., on Aug. 13
(Photo: Mike Morones/Staff)

The sudden death of a Marine Corps combat veteran after his controversial exit from the military was a result of drug toxicity from one of his prescriptions, according to a newly published autopsy report.

Rob Richards, 28, was found dead in his Jacksonville, North Carolina, home Aug. 13, a year and five days after he was medically retired from the service as a corporal. Richards, a combat-wounded veteran with multiple deployments, had been among a group of Marine scout snipers whose actions came under intense scrutiny after a video surfaced in 2012 depicting them urinating on an enemy corpse in Afghanistan.

Richards disliked the publicity associated with the urination scandal and worked hard to put the incident behind him, but his autopsy report and other medical documents released to Marine Corps Times reveal the scars of combat and the psychological toll his experiences had taken.
Though the injuries qualified Richards for 100 percent medical disability, and the experience left him with depression and post-traumatic stress — he spent a month in a psychiatric facility after discharging a pistol in a Florida hotel room in a frightening moment of disorientation — he volunteered to return to Afghanistan in 2011 with another scout sniper unit attached to 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines. Twelve months after he was wounded, Richards quit his medications cold turkey and deployed for the last time.
read more here

Monday, December 2, 2013

VA prescribes opiates to patients not seen

Report: VA prescribes opiates to patients not seen
San Francisco Gate
Aaron Glantz, Center for Investigative Reporting
December 2, 2013

Doctors at the San Francisco VA Medical Center regularly renewed prescriptions for highly addictive narcotic painkillers for veterans they had never seen, according to a new report by the Department of Veterans Affairs' inspector general.

The report also documented seven cases of opiate overdose among patients at the hospital and determined that doctors "did not consistently monitor patients for misuse."

The auditor's review comes at a time of heightened scrutiny of the VA's painkiller prescription practices.

In September, the Center for Investigative Reporting revealed that VA prescriptions for four opiates - hydrocodone, oxycodone, methadone and morphine - surged 270 percent from 2001 to 2012. That far outpaced the increase in the number of VA patients and contributed to a fatal overdose rate that the agency's researchers put at nearly double the national average.
read more here

Friday, October 11, 2013

VA Doctors were pressured to prescribe veterans opiates

VA doctors tell House lawmakers of pressure to prescribe veterans opiates
The Center for Investigative Reporting
By Aaron Glantz
Published: October 10, 2013

Department of Veterans Affairs physicians told a House subcommittee Thursday that hospital administrators regularly pressured them to prescribe highly addictive narcotic painkillers to patients, even those they had not personally examined.

The hearing marked the first time VA officials have spoken publicly about the skyrocketing number of painkiller prescriptions since The Center for Investigative Reporting revealed the trend last month.

"There are multiple instances when I have been coerced or even ordered to write for Schedule II narcotics when it was against my medical judgment," said Dr. Pamela Gray, a physician who formerly worked at the VA hospital in Hampton, Va.

Primary care doctors who don't want to prescribe large amounts of opiates may resign, do as they are told or be terminated, Gray said. Gray was fired.

In his testimony before the health subcommittee of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs, the VA's principal deputy undersecretary for health, Dr. Robert Jesse, said the large amounts of opiates prescribed at VA hospitals and clinics are part of a national crisis that extends beyond the agency.

Jesse said that if physicians feel pressured by their superiors to prescribe, that is "absolutely indefensible" and they "should feel absolutely that they can refuse to do that."
read more here

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Mefloquine stopped for Green Berets and Special Forces almost 10 years too late

Mefloquine stopped for Green Berets and Special Forces almost 10 years too late
Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
September 19, 2013

In 2004, the VA issued a warning. "The drug is mefloquine, known by the brand name Lariam, which has been given to tens of thousands of soldiers since the war on terrorism began. Some of those soldiers say it has provoked severe mental and physical problems including suicidal and violent behavior, psychosis, convulsions and balance disorders."

In 2009 Spc. Adam Kuligowski's problems began because he couldn't sleep. The "21-year-old soldier was working six days a week, analyzing intelligence that the military gathered while he was serving in Afghanistan. He was gifted at his job and loved being a part of the 101st Airborne Division, just like his father and his great uncle. But Adam was tired and often late for work. His eyes were glassy and he was falling asleep while on duty. His room was messy and his uniform was dirty. His father, Mike Kuligowski, attributes his son's sleeplessness and depression to an anti-malarial medication called mefloquine that was found in his system. In rare cases, it can cause psychiatric symptoms such as anxiety, paranoia, depression, hallucination and psychotic behavior." That report came out in 2010.

By 2011 "dramatic about-face follows years of complaints and concerns that mefloquine caused psychiatric and physical side effects even as it was used around the globe as a front-line defense against the mosquito-borne disease that kills about 800,000 people a year. "Mefloquine is a zombie drug. It's dangerous, and it should have been killed off years ago," said Dr. Remington Nevin, an epidemiologist and Army major who has published research that he said showed the drug can be potentially toxic to the brain. He believes the drop in prescriptions is a tacit acknowledgment of the drug's serious problems."

In 2012 "Mefloquine, also called Lariam, has severe psychiatric side effects. Problems include psychotic behavior, paranoia and hallucinations. The drug has been implicated in numerous suicides and homicides, including deaths in the U.S. military. For years the military has used the weekly pill to help prevent malaria among deployed troops."

I can do this all day but the military just decided to stop giving it to Green Berets and other Special Forces. "Quoting the FDA’s July safety warning, the Surgeon General’s Office of the Army Special Operations Command sent a message to commanders and medical personnel last Friday ordering a halt in prescribing mefloquine for malaria prevention for the approximately 25,000 Green Berets, Rangers, Civil Affairs and Psychological Operations soldiers, command spokesman Lt. Col. Dave Connolly said."

They can pretend all they want that they didn't know what was going on before but the results have been deadly.
Green Berets, other elite Army forces ordered to stop taking anti-malarial drug mefloquine
By Associated Press
Thursday, September 19, 2013

WASHINGTON — The top doctor for Green Berets and other elite Army commandos has told troops to immediately stop taking mefloquine, an anti-malaria drug found to cause permanent brain damage in rare cases.

The ban among special operations forces is the latest development in a long-running controversy over mefloquine. The drug was developed by the Army in the 1970s and has been taken by millions of travelers and people in the military over the years. As alternatives were developed, it fell out of favor as the front-line defense against malaria, a mosquito-borne disease that international health officials say kills roughly 600,000 people a year.

The new prohibition among special operations forces follows a July 29 safety announcement by the Food and Drug Administration that it had strengthened warnings about neurologic side effects associated with the drug. The FDA added a boxed warning to the drug label, the most serious kind of warning, saying neurologic side effects like dizziness, loss of balance and ringing in the ears may become permanent.
read more here

Friday, March 23, 2012

Army: PTSD treatable; some diagnosed return to war,,,with meds

By most accounts, Sgt. Robert Bales has PTSD and TBI. If true, then sending him back into combat, more than likely, included medications for both. Is anyone looking into what medications he was on and if they played a role in what happened more than PTSD and TBI? Most medications the troops are given come with clear warnings about side effects. Does this mean everyone will become worse on the same medication? No. What works for one may do harm to another. This is why they need to be monitored by a doctor to make sure the right medication is given to them. If they have no clue about what side effects they need to report to their doctor, they suffer needlessly instead of healing. If there is no doctor for them to talk to, then who is checking on them?

Most Combat PTSD veterans do fine on medications and with proper treatment, begin to heal, so sending them back into combat or employing them in any field is not an issue. For others the medications they are on makes it worse.

Army: PTSD treatable; some diagnosed return to war

SAN DIEGO -- It is still not known if the soldier accused of killing 17 Afghans was ever diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder - but even if he had been, that alone would not have prevented him from being sent back to war.

The Army diagnosed 76,176 soldiers with PTSD between 2000 and 2011. Of those, 65,236 soldiers were diagnosed at some stage of their deployment.

Many returned to the battlefield after mental health providers determined their treatment worked and their symptoms had gone into remission, Army officials and mental health professionals who treat troops say. The Army does not track the exact number in combat diagnosed with PTSD nor those who are in combat and taking medicine for PTSD.

The case of Sgt. Robert Bales has sparked debate about whether the Army failed in detecting a soldier's mental instability or pushed him too far. The Army is reviewing all its mental health programs and its screening process in light of the March 11 shooting spree in two slumbering Afghan villages that killed families, including nine children.
read more here

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Suicide Warning Issued for Chantix and Zyban

These drugs work fine for some people. I've written before how they helped an elderly aunt and uncle quit successfully. The warning should be taken seriously for anyone with a mental health issue. Especially troubling right now is that the military has said they want to crack down on smoking. If they want to use these products, fine, but they better be prepared to make sure they are paying close attention to the troops that take them.

Suicide Warning Issued for 2 Anti-Smoking Drugs
Published: July 1, 2009
WASHINGTON — Federal drug regulators warned Wednesday that patients taking two popular stop-smoking drugs should be watched closely for signs of serious mental illness, as reported suicides among the drugs’ users mount.

But officials emphasized that patients should not be scared away from taking the smoking-cessation medicines, Chantix, made by Pfizer, and Zyban, made by GlaxoSmithKline.

“Stopping smoking is a goal we should all be working towards,” said Dr. Curt Rosebraugh, director of a drug evaluation office at the F.D.A. “We don’t want to scare people off from trying a medication that could help them achieve this goal. You should just be careful.”
The F.D.A. required Pfizer and Glaxo to place so-called black box warnings — the agency’s most serious caution — on the prescribing information for both drugs. Both companies will be required to conduct clinical trials to assess the mental health risks associated with the drugs’ uses.
go here for more

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Zyprexa Sales goal was 6 Billion just for PTSD?

Lilly Sold Drug for Dementia Knowing It Didn’t Help, Files Show
By Margaret Cronin Fisk, Elizabeth Lopatto and Jef Feeley

June 12 (Bloomberg) -- Eli Lilly & Co. urged doctors to prescribe Zyprexa for elderly patients with dementia, an unapproved use for the antipsychotic, even though the drugmaker had evidence the medicine didn’t work for such patients, according to unsealed internal company documents.

In 1999, four years after Lilly sent study results to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration showing Zyprexa didn’t alleviate dementia symptoms in older patients, it began marketing the drug to those very people, according to documents unsealed in insurer suits against the company for overpayment.

Regulators required Lilly and other antipsychotic drug- makers in April 2005 to warn that the products posed an increased risk to elderly patients with dementia. The documents show the health dangers in marketing a drug for an unapproved use, called off-label promotion, said Sidney Wolfe, head of the health research group at Public Citizen in Washington.

“By definition, off-label means there is no clear evidence that the benefits of a drug outweigh the risks,” Wolfe said. “The reason why off-label promotion is illegal is that you can greatly magnify the number of people who will be harmed.”

Zyprexa Sales

Lilly officials in 2002 reported Zyprexa sales grew due to “an expanding prescriber base in primary care, off-label use including PTSD and sleep,” according to a document called “Zyprexa Business Summary,” referring to post-traumatic stress disorder. The company’s goal was to reach $6 billion in sales by 2006, according to a July 2002 Zyprexa marketing plan.

Common Adverse Effects

In June 2004, Paula Rochon, a senior scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences in Toronto, published a literature review in the British Medical Journal showing there were only five trials available analyzing antipsychotics’ effect on the elderly, and that in those trials, adverse effects were common.

In May 2008, Rochon found that atypical antipsychotics triple the risk of a patient’s death or hospitalization within a month of starting therapy, according to research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. About 17 percent of nursing home patients suffering from dementia are prescribed an antipsychotic within 100 days of their admission, according to her study.
go here for more

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Company asks pharmacists, hospitals to return 65 drugs

Company asks pharmacists, hospitals to return drug
Associated Press
Published: Friday August 1, 2008

WASHINGTON -- A New Jersey company is asking pharmacists and hospitals to return all prescription drug products made at one of its facilities because it did not pass health authorities' standards.

A Food and Drug Administration inspection at the Little Falls, N.J., facility of Actavis Totowa LLC "revealed operations which did not meet the FDA's or Actavis' standards for good manufacturing practices," according to a company statement issued Friday.

The recall, only on the pharmacy and retail level, includes about 65 different prescription drugs, such as pain killers, antidepressants, diet medication and drugs for blood pressure and hypertension.

Only pharmacies and hospitals should return the prescription drugs. Patients who may have the drug should continue to take them in accordance with their prescriptions, the Morristown, N.J. company said in a release. The company said that suddenly stopping needed medication before obtaining replacement drugs may place patients at risk.

For more information on the recall, consumers can visit
(go here to see the list)
Linked from RawStory

Monday, June 23, 2008

PTSD Drugs: Better Living through Chemistry

My friend Lily over at Healing Combat Trauma just did a great piece on medications you really should read.

PTSD Drugs: Better Living through Chemistry, or Purely Popping Pills for PTSD's Psychological Ills?

There was a story in the news recently about four young combat veterans in West Virginia, all seemingly in decent physical condition beforehand, who nevertheless all died in their sleep recently. Besides combat PTSD, one thing the vets all had in common was the cocktail of drugs they were taking: Paxil, Klonopin and Seroquel. (The Charleston, West Virginia Gazette-Mail reported this story on May 24, 2008 - it's linked here.) An investigation is pending, but the story obviously raises the question: what are vets with PTSD being prescribed, and is it really working, or what's best? (Continue reading, and you'll learn more about those specific medications as well.)
Where to go for information about PTSD medications? Here are a few, carefully-chosen selections, and their pros and cons - as appropriate:

go here for more

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Anti-addiction drugs linked to depression

updated 6:04 p.m. EDT, Wed April 23, 2008

Anti-addiction drugs linked to depression
Story Highlights
"Super pills" intended to curb addiction by blocking brain's pleasure centers

Research indicates drugs may block too much pleasure, risking depression, suicide

Expert: "The door is closing" on this approach to curbing addiction

CHICAGO, Illinois (AP) -- Two years ago, scientists had high hopes for new pills that would help people quit smoking, lose weight and maybe kick other tough addictions such as alcohol and cocaine.

The so-called "super pills" worked in a novel way, by blocking pleasure centers in the brain that provide the feel-good response from smoking or eating. Now it seems the drugs may block pleasure too well, possibly raising the risk of depression and suicide.

Margaret Bastian of suburban Rochester, New York, was among patients who reported problems with Chantix, a highly touted quit-smoking pill from Pfizer Inc. that has been linked to dozens of reports of suicides and hundreds of suicidal behaviors.

"I started to get severely depressed and just going down into that hole ... the one you can't crawl out of," said Bastian, whose doctor took her off Chantix after she swallowed too many sleeping pills and other medicines one night.

Side effects also plague two other drugs:

• Rimonabant, an obesity pill sold as Acomplia in Europe, was tied to higher rates of depression and a suicide in a study last month. The maker, Sanofi-Aventis SA, still hopes to win its approval in the United States.

• Taranabant, a similar pill in late-stage testing, led to higher rates of depression and other side effects in a study last month. Its maker, Merck & Co., stopped testing it at middle and high doses.

The makers of the new drugs insist they are safe, although perhaps not for everyone, such as people with a history of depression. Having to restrict the drugs' use would be a big setback because it would deprive the very people who need help the most, since addictions and depression often go hand-in-hand, doctors say.

go here for more