The two faces of the FDA strike again – and this time, millions of American children are at risk.
Face Number One pretends it's worried sick over reports of weight gain, diabetes and metabolic syndrome in kids forced to swallow atypical antipsychotic drugs. Many of these dangerous drugs were never approved for use in children – but have been prescribed for them off-label.
Face Number Two then went and approved the use of two of these meds – Eli Lilly's Zyprexa and AstraZeneca's Seroquel – for teens... meaning some of those worrisome off-label uses will now be completely marketable.
Atypical antipsychotics are used to treat schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and – often off-label – bogus non- conditions like ADHD.
But I'll tell you who's really psychotic here: any bureaucrat in Washington who gets his kicks seeing what these powerful and dangerous meds – some of which have even been linked to sudden cardiac death – do to our kids.
Weight gain and diabetes have long been associated with these meds, and the link seems even stronger in children. One recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association even found that kids who took Zyprexa gained 19 pounds over 11 weeks.
So why in God's name has the FDA given the go-ahead to market these drugs for use in kids?
It may have something to do with the fact that around 2 million kids are being given these kinds of meds for off- label uses already. But that's a little like dealing with criminals by legalizing crime.
AstraZeneca is already in some pretty hot water over Seroquel. They're facing up to 14,000 lawsuits from users who believe this drug causes diabetes. And the company paid more than half a billion bucks to settle whistle-blower suits and a federal investigation into its marketing – including accusations the med was promoted illegally for off-label uses.
But that's mere pocket change, because Seroquel raked in nearly $4.5 billion last year and is the company's number two drug.
And that's just one moldy piece of this rotten pie – atypical antipsychotics accounted for around $14.6 billion in sales last year in this country alone.
In Washington, it never really matters how many kids are hurt or killed by these meds... the only numbers that count have dollar signs in front of them.