Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Johnson And Johnson PAYS

From NPR
"Johnson & Johnson became the latest drugmaker to reach a costly agreement with the federal government over charges of improper marketing. The widely anticipated settlement, unveiled Monday, covers Natrecor, a drug for congestive heart failure, and antipsychotics Risperdal and Invega.
Fraking finally. Eric Holder, Attorney General of the United States of America, is holding the pharmaceutical industrial complex accountable. He and the Department of Justice (DOJ) allege that Johnson and Johnson, along with a related corporation, in effect, bribed psychiatrists to prescribe Risperdal, Invega, and Natrecor to those whom do not meet the criteria of FDA approval. If you know anything about the Holder's DOJ, it's that when they make an accusation, they have solid-as-neutron-star-matter proof. I have almost no doubts of it. Other than extensive drug advertisement, how else could psychiatrists randomly prescribe Risperdal at such high rates that 
"half of Risperdal prescribed a decade ago was for elderly patients suffering from dementia, rather than schizophrenia or bipolar disease..."(NPR, via DOJ)? 
Not many factors I can think of, considering there are comparable medicines on the market, and the FDA never approved Risperdal for use on Dementia Patients. Never. (1) Included in this fact is that in 2007, Risperadal was the number one selling drug for Johnson and Johnson, despite the low numbers of patients for whom the FDA actually approved Risperadal for. Johnson and Johnson made 4.7 billion dollars--the net worth of Richard Branson, 2011 or the total cost of College Textbooks in 2010 (Dictionary of Numbers). I really cannot blame them for being good business-people. Being fraudulent, greedy, motherfuckers, however, of fucking course! 

Something most skinny, male, neurotypical, able-bodied, straight, not-poor, or otherwise privileged people tend not to understand is that many, many, many doctors are corrupted assholes. For the sake of the already terrible flow of this post, I'll post all the case studies I can find in thirty minutes at the end. You know what happens when an able-ist psychiatrist sees free dollar signs from a company, so as long as they prescribe something that may or may not harm the disabled individual? They care not one bit for the welfare of their patient. And I have firsthand experience with such individuals.


TRIGGER WARNING: this story deals with extreme able-ism, "sane-ism," a bit of intersectional issues that are hard to pinpoint exactly, mild swearing--well, mild for me--and is kind of a story with basically no happy parts, at all. If you are triggered by any of these please read no further. I'm sure if you are, you already have experienced baloney like this, and thus really don't need to read more. This may be a common story, but it is patently wrong for it to occur at all. 

The flow of this story is purely chronological. It will end with how I ended up being prescribed Risperadal and a short summary of the after-effects, but I want to give as comprehensive of a story as humanly/internet-ly possible. I suggest getting a cup of tea going. Coincidentally I wrote it with a cup of tea.   several cups of tea.

It's seventh grade--because of course this happens in middle-school, of course--and I am in a special education program for those who have "behavioral issues." I also have to battle against their constant condescension, white-savoir attitude infested para-educators (paras for short), and belittling curriculum which does not change dependent on age, but for only one period a day. I'm a lucky one. In the Autistic Blogosphere, I could be called a "shiny aspie," because I can, mostly, pass for neurotypical, thus avoiding the brunt of the most severe ableism. After lunch, I have math class with a teacher whom apparently lets her students do whatever the fuck they want, whenever, without recourse. You know, all in the name of student engagement. Fine, whatever, I'm on medication already--something I'd been taking for five years, I can obviously handle this. You can tell where this is going, I'm sure.

Sensory Processing Disorder is defined by the brain processing sensory information differently than most people. The confusion causes stress, anxiety, and at worst, panic, for when the sensory information is far too much to process. When you have lived in a neurotypical world all your life, you learn to cope with, what to a neurotypical is the equivalent of a laser pointed at your eyes and a bullhorn constantly screeching into your ears. Except some days you don't have the emotional energy to constantly battle the urge to scream. Even when you have self-calming measures--stimming--people think it's weird, so they force you to stop. Guess what? Autistics can feel shame just like anyone else. I was very much ashamed to be who I was, so my emotional health was very much in the hands of my fellow students.

I was, also, bullied and harassed in school, because middle-school. Totally not out of the ordinary for middle-school. So, when fall/autumn came, I had basically no reason to be happy other than video games, C-span, and the Colbert Report--I was am a strange child. Everything was too loud and bright, my paras were condescending assholes, my teachers were not much different, my grades were suffering--as per (still) usual--my peers were middle-schoolers (blech), I was a specific target of bullying, I was completely bored in school, and worst of all, fall and changing seasons in general, are always, always difficult for me. Subsequently, I was crying, literally, and yes, I mean literally, as in without hyperbole or exaggeration, each and every single day for a month. If you know anything about being a male, crying, in front of people is about the worst thing I could do. It shows weakness to everyone. Thanks patriarchy!

Still, I had one support: I could cry in a contained space designed for containing violent students, which may or may not be being used for that very reason.Yes, I could go back to the special education room, to a literal representation of failure to me at the time, so after I cry and stop the constant sensory torture, I could go back to a classroom of peers that would interrogate me as to my whereabouts or why I got "special treatment." Fuck that should be anyone's logical response, right? Well, it was definitely better than torture, I'd say. Plus, maybe, I reasoned, I was just not good enough to be included in the class. I did "choose" to cry exclusively in class some days (if not most), and my math teacher took notice, like any good professional would. I commend her for at least that. After a communicating a non-convincing idea that maybe the class could quiet down--I become almost unable to communicate at all when emotionally distraught--being the professional she was, suggested that I find a way to cope with the noise. Wow, thanks! I HAD NEVER THOUGHT OF THAT! That's almost as bad as suggesting that a fat person that they try this radical, totally obscure, and never heard of thing called "dieting." Trust me, ask any Autistic and they will tell you about all the ways people have suggested they cope. Perhaps, like me, they'll cringe at the word and experience a temporary surge of extreme self hate and doubt.

From a school-administration perspective, everything was going great! Considering I had a history of behavioral issues, my mental health being compromised notwithstanding, the fact I did not harm any real children was totally fabulous! I was only depressed and unwilling/unable to express it! Horray! Now, I was none-too-pleased about it, but like I said, I'm not a real person in their eyes.

Well, one day, in mid-November, I being the worn-down, distraught, and panicked person I was, had an exchange of profanity with an asshole of a student and became violent. To me, my safety was so inherently compromised, that it necessitated throwing random objects near people--but away from people, because I don't like hurting people, goddammit. This meant that every normal student should evacuate the classroom. I don't blame them for that. Fearing your safety, even though there was no logical reason to (and I mean that sincerely, I don't hurt people; nothing in my history of behavioral issues suggested that; I destroy property, not hurt people) is a good warrant for leaving. It took me a few months to appreciate the total irony of that, by the way. Well, the teacher--whom I despised, because she did not believe in "special treatment" so I could, I don't know, function as a student in her class--tried to talk me down and called people over to help as well. I threw a highlighter-pen at her, sort of, before being restrained by special education teachers a few minutes later. Technically, I had assaulted a teacher. I repeat: technically, by throwing an object at a speed that even a rock couldn't hurt someone, which was not even that possible to really harm anyone at any speed produced by a human is assaulting a teacher. Let that bullshit sink in. It's only slightly more credible than the time I was kicked out of a Jewish private school for holding a ruler, which apparently, in the hands of a angry seven year old is totally a weapon.

Well, that escalated slowly and painfully. Or in the minds of the school administration, quickly and without warning. When I was eventually called into their office three days later with my parents to discuss everything, I was furious with myself and just shy of truly depressed. Luckily for me, I was an active member of student government and more or less on the "good side" of the new principal and vice principal. They had come up with a plan for me, along with my special education teacher: temporary expulsion (somehow different from suspension); and I was to be put into the special education program for Health, History, and Math. Coincidentally, I literally learned no math that year. As an aside, I did eventually earn the privilege of being in a real classroom for Health and History a few months later. In addition, the next time I was in any way violent or "threatening," I was to be carried off campus by an on-campus police officer. #SchoolToPrisonPipeline

After all this, I was scheduled for an appointment for my psychiatrist. Since other people being considerate is clearly a laughable prospect, we just needed to find the right medication! This is probably the one part of the story that I remember the MOST clearly. After talking to my parents and a token word from me, he started suggesting medications. One of the  first he suggested, and I kid you not, was, and again, I'm not making this up: a daily, small dose of Rohypnol. If you don't know what Rohypnol is, let me enlighten you: it is a strong, strong depressant. In fact, it's a date-rape drug. Yes, his solution to being violent was to chemically stop me from doing basically anything. He did, finally, come up with a better solution, just as he had prescribed me Tenex--a blood pressure medication--when I was nine for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), he prescribed me Risperdal. I can't prove he got kickbacks from Johnson and Johnson, but this was something he regularly prescribed to people like me. Even if he is not a corrupt asshole, and just an able-ist asshole, the proliferation of Risperdal means there is at least data. There's nothing that treats "autism" or GAD specifically, that's not how psychiatry works, but there are chemical tweaks that people try to make that encourages the behavior that society wishes to see from Autistics or people with ADD/ADHD or other "mental illnesses."

He explained the possible side-effects--over-eating/weight gain, lethargy, etc.--and the intended effects. Risperdal did this to me: I was constantly hungry (luckily my family could afford for that to happen); constantly sleepy and lethargic; never really experiencing the kind of overwhelming glee that I had previously been capable of; and missing a dose would bring me to a worse state than I had been before, because I was accustom to it. Risperdal is a hell of a drug. In spite of these affects, I was more neurotypical-appearing than ever.

[Image description: George Bush's Mission Accomplished photo after operation Iraqi Freedom Ended a full eight years before the end of the Iraq War. I made no promise to keep politics out of this blog (smiling emoticon).] 
In fact, people would think I was a stoner, because most days I was "super chill" while some days I was more hyperactive than a toddler on Halloween candy. The latter was when I forgot my medication. There was one bright spot about being on the medication, I was too drugged medicated to react to overwhelming stimuli and I stimmed far less. By this time last year, however, I had realized that not only were the side-effects getting worse, but the good effects--being more neurotypical was truly fading. It was basically a placebo, except it still had side-effects. When we brought it up to my psychiatrist, he suggested--after excluding my opinion and using "begging the question" techniques to get the answer he wanted--that I take a THIRD medication, Vivance. Vivance is basically a slow-release amphetamine used to treat inattentiveness in people with ADD/ADHD. I didn't need it, but hey, he might as well prescribe it anyway! Amphetamines, by the way, destroy your appetite to the point where, in the case of one of my friends, people thought he had Anorexia Nervosa. I, eventually, chose not to take my medication, and for a month or so of weaning off of both medications, Risperdal and Tenex, I was fairly miserable. After that, however, I didn't need to sleep for 12+ hours a day and I generally felt better. As luck would have it, a few months after getting off Risperdal, I read this:   http://www.autistichoya.com/2013/04/teh-eebil-autizms.html . Before reading this, I never realized giving Autistics anti-psychotics like Risperdal was common. For some reason, even after reading the trigger warning, I read it anyway, then got triggered. I have since learned to respect trigger warnings a lot more.

Anyway, before this rant/personal story turns into what people like to call "inspiration porn" I would just like to say that the ableism that pervades this story was not just neurotypicals not caring for my mental health like they would any other, so as long as they did not feel a problem; not just their unwillingness to accommodate for someone so that they could continue what in most school systems would be a maker of an unruly classroom, despite it being basically sensory torture; not just the fact they would rather remove me completely than understand and solve for the issue; it was blatant dehumanization. If you do not act like everyone else in our society you have two options: be removed or have intrinsic parts of you be chemically removed. Fuck. That. Shit.

This was written in four/five sittings between two days. If you notice any inconsistencies or need something clarified, I am more-than-willing to fix it/clarify it. At the time of posting, I feel this is an adequate one, but I don't know. Please feel more than free to be critical!


http://danceswithfat.wordpress.com/2009/12/15/so-my-doctor-tried-to-kill-me/ (includes the horrifying comments)


  1. I find this very interesting, because my psychiatrist has *again* brought up the possibility of me starting on Risperdal or Abilify to deal with my anxiety issues which might or might not be caused by sensory overload. All I know is that both my sensory overload and anxiety became worse when I was trying to quit smoking, aka not getting a regular dopamine boost. So of course a dopamine antagonist makes PERFECT sense.

    I'd be willing to try it if only to prove that it's completely ridiculous to give me Risperdal simply because I'm autistic. Because that is her reasoning. Literally. (In the non-hyperbolic, non-exaggerated sense).

    1. Risperdal is a seriously strong medication. The withdrawal affects contributed to a bout of depression I had for months after I stopped taking it--in accordance with a hypothetical plan set up by my psychiatrist a year earlier. Your psychiatrist should provide more justification than you just being Autistic.
      I can tell you that Risperdal did make me feel less anxiety--as well as every other emotion. The weirdest correlation ever, though, was that once I was off of it, I started noticing boys a lot more. I half considered trolling Focus on the Family with that anecdote, but I decided better of it. :D