Los Angeles, California (PRWEB) September 15, 2014
Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), the nation’s leading mental health watchdog, announces the publication of its latest article on military suicides and sudden deaths, stating that, “While Congress currently is focusing on the VA’s alleged poor quality of care due to long wait times for medical access, still little, to no, attention is being given to the hundreds of veteran cardiac arrests and suicides that occurred after being prescribed cocktails of psychotropic drugs, especially antipsychotics.” CCHR says that Congress should look into potential conflicts of interest by psychiatrists whose studies are relied upon by the VA and pharmaceutical companies because it may provide answers to why sudden deaths from antipsychotics, and suicides linked to antidepressants, are still being ignored.
During a July hearing of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, Rep. Mike Michaud, D-Maine, noted that although VA spending on mental health had doubled since 2007 (currently at $ 7 billion), “It’s not working.” Michaud concluded, “We have to figure out why.” CCHR, who presented written testimony to this hearing, states that an in-depth look into the source of the information being provided to Congress may yield interesting answers.
Some of the facts on the use of these drugs in the military in CCHR’s article include:
Antidepressants, specifically SSRIs, all of which carry the FDA’s “black box” warning, “are recommended as first line agents in treatment” of PTSD.
Antidepressants like Zoloft, Wellbutrin and Celexa account for slightly more than half of the psychotropic prescriptions for 18-34 year olds in the military health care system, according to an investigation by the Military Times.
The Department of Defense spent at least $ 2.7 billion on antidepressants in the decade after 9/11 and the dispensing of psychiatric drugs continues after soldiers’ care passes to the VA.
Drug manufacturer Pfizer has made more than $ 8 billion in sales from the Department of Defense since 2002, while Abbott Laboratories’ sales jumped 300 percent and Novartis more than doubled its military sales to nearly $ 400 million in 2011.
Veteran suicides began rising in 2007 and, by 2012, the VA’s Suicide Prevention Program reported 18 veteran suicides daily, while a “Suicide Data Report” issued by the same program in the same year put the number at 22. By 2013, the VA and Department of Defense published a clinical-practice guide reporting that 18-22 die daily.
Add to the suicides the antipsychotic drugs implicated in the little reported sudden deaths of veterans and military personnel. Dr. Fred Baughman, Jr., a California neurologist, raised the alarm years ago after collecting a list of nearly 400 questionable soldier and veteran deaths, which he says are all “probable sudden cardiac deaths” likely caused by cocktails of psychiatric drugs. Several published studies link sudden cardiac deaths with antipsychotic drugs, including one conducted by the Army supporting that the drugs cause cardiac arrhythmia.  (Watch the chapter “Sudden Death” from CCHR’s documentary, The Hidden Enemy)
So CCHR asks then, “Why has there been no formal investigation conducted to determine the role of these deadly drug cocktails?”
“As Congress continues its investigation into the VA’s alleged sub-standard medical services,” CCHR says “tough questions need to be asked about those psychiatrists within the VA and the military supplying the data used to make life and death decisions. Our military personnel deserve no less.”
Read full article here.
About Citizens Commission on Human Rights: CCHR is a non-profit, non-political, non-religious mental health watchdog. Its mission is to eradicate abuses committed under the guise of mental health and enact patient and consumer protections. CCHR has helped to enact more than 150 laws protecting individuals from abusive or coercive mental health practices.
 Ben Kesling, “Senate Panel Questions Independence of VA Inspector General’s Report Department’s Top Watchdog Defends Recent Findings Exculpating Phoenix VA of Deaths,” Wall Street Journal, online.wsj.com/articles/senate-panel-questions-independence-of-va-inspector-generals-report-1410282363.
 Dennis Wagner, “VA touts progress on suicides; data tell another story,” Army Times, Aug. 25, 2014, armytimes.com/article/20140825/BENEFITS06/308250024/VA-touts-progress-suicides-data-tell-another-storyp; “VA 2015 Budget Request Fast Facts,” Department of Veterans Affairs, va.gov/budget/docs/summary/Fy2015-FastFactsVAsBudgetHighlights.pdf.
 “VA/DoD CLINICAL PRACTICE GUIDELINE FOR MANAGEMENT OF POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS,” Department of Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense, 2010, healthquality.va.gov/guidelines/MH/ptsd/cpg_PTSD-FULL-201011612.pdf.
 Andrew Tilghman and Brendan McGarry, “Psych meds spike among younger troops,” Navy Times, Sept. 3, 2010, navytimes.com/article/20100903/NEWS/9030319/Psych-meds-spike-among-younger-troops.
 Jeremy Schwartz, “Soaring Cost of Military Drugs Could Hurt Budget,” American-Statesman, 29 Dec. 2012, statesman.com/news/news/national-govt-politics/the-soaring-cost-of-military-drugs/nThwF/.
 Dennis Wagner, “VA touts progress on suicides; data tell another story,” Army Times, Aug. 25, 2014, armytimes.com/article/20140825/BENEFITS06/308250024/VA-touts-progress-suicides-data-tell-another-story.
 Jussi Honkola, et al., “Psychotropic medications and the risk of sudden cardiac death during an acute coronary event,” European Heart Journal, Sept. 14, 2011, eurheartj.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2011/09/14/eurheartj.ehr368.full
 Wayne A. Ray, Ph.D, et al., “Atypical Antipsychotic Drugs and the Risk of Sudden Cardiac Death,” New England Journal of Medicine, Jan. 15, 2009, 360:225-235, nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa0806994; Patricia Kine, “DoD cracks down on off-label drug use,” Military Times, June 14, 2014, airforcetimes.com/article/20120614/NEWS/206140317/DoD-cracks-down-off-label-drug-use; Jussi Honkola, et al, “Psychotropic medications and the risk of sudden cardiac death during an acute coronary event,” European Heart Journal, Sept. 14, 2011, eurheartj.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2011/09/14/eurheartj.ehr368.abstract.
 Scott Glover, Lisa Girion, “Legal drugs, deadly outcomes,” Los Angeles Times, Nov. 11, 2012, graphics.latimes.com/prescription-drugs-part-one/; Curtis Skinner, “NYC doctor convicted of manslaughter for illegal prescriptions,” Reuters, July 18, 2014, reuters.com/article/2014/07/18/us-usa-crime-drugs-newyork-idUSKBN0FN2OI20140718.