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Via America’s Lawyer: Mike Papantonio and Brigida Santos talk about how the ADHD industry is targeting adults as they try to increase their billion dollar industry.


Mike Papantonio: According to the Centers for Disease Control, ADHD effects more than 10% of the US population between the ages of four and 17, or at least that’s about how many adolescents of the United States are currently diagnosed with the condition.

Over the last three decades, diagnosis of ADHD has been skyrocketing, with many experts telling us that the rate of diagnosis has put the condition into a category of being an epidemic. With children as young as two years old being diagnosed as having ADHD, it’s time that we take a look at what’s really driving this phoneyed up epidemic.

Starting in the 1990s, parents began to learn more about ADD and ADHD, and they immediately thought that their child fit the description for many reasons. Maybe their child wasn’t paying attention in class, or maybe they had too much energy, or maybe their grades weren’t all that great. Suddenly, every gripe that parents had about their children became grounds to medicate them beyond recognition.

Now it’s not to say that there aren’t legitimate cases of ADHD, those absolutely do exist, but to believe that a child as young as two years old suffers from this condition, isn’t only naïve, but extremely dangerous for that child’s development. Of course, Big Pharma has been right there every step of the way, to convince the American public that their children need their ADHD medication, because they make $12 billion a year pushing that pill.

Now you would think that $12 billion would be enough to satisfy Big Pharma’s greed, but as it turns out, the level of greed at drug companies has no limit. In addition to selling these medications to our children, they’re now trying to sell more to adults. A study in 2014 showed that the rate of adults who also suffer from ADHD, has climbed at a phenomenal rate, and the only way to curb this was with expensive medication. As it turns out, that study was actually written and run by Big Pharma. No surprise there.

Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security pays huge dollars for ADHD, disability counted benefits, so not only does Big Pharma want to hook you and your children on ADHD medication, they also want tax payers to start handing over their money to cover the cost of this phoneyed up epidemic.

Joining me now to talk about this, is RT correspondent Brigida Santos. Brigida, let’s start by talking about the 2014 study on adult ADHD. What did that study say? We know who was behind if the industry actually paid for it and ran it, but what did it come out and say?

Brigida Santos: This article was published in a medical journal, and it was titled The Under-diagnosis of ADHD in Adult Patients. Now this basically was written by people with financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry, and if you read the fine print at the very bottom of the study in the acknowledgment section, it thanks Eli Lilly for funding the study. Eli Lilly of course, is a major manufacturer of drugs, including ADHD medications, and the entire point of this study was to alert psychiatrists on how to identify this disorder in adults, which Eli Lilly says is under diagnosed. They want these doctors to start pushing their drugs onto people, and to tell patients that they are suffering from ADHD, even if they might not be Mike.

Mike Papantonio: In other words Brigida, they’re creating an epidemic. We see it all the time with the pharmaceutical industries. They go out and they hire these folks that are known as biostitutes in this business of pharmaceutical litigation, they’re known as biostitutes. They go to Harvard or Yale or Princeton, and then they say, “Would you write a paper for us, standing behind our position, or would you do research and sign off on that paper, standing behind our position?” Then the sales people take that paper to doctors in the field and say, “You see. You need to understand that adults now have this problem, and you need to give them more medication.”

From what you know, have any of the major media outlets reported the truth behind this study? It’s doubtful for me because they have such huge advertisers. Eli Lilly is such a massive advertiser for corporate media, but have they actually done any reporting on this?

Brigida Santos: I have not seen any major media outlets reporting on this, just smaller news magazines. Now that, a lot of times, has to do with the fact that pharmaceutical companies spend $5 billion per year on advertising at big corporate media outlets, so they’re not going to be publishing anything that could harm their advertiser’s bottom line. Additionally, a lot of media outlets share a common board member with the drug and pharmaceutical companies, so again, they’re not going to do anything that could harm that monetary interest Mike.

Mike Papantonio: In other words, what we see is ABC or CBS or NBC may have a board member from Merck or Pfizer or Bayer, sitting on that board, that every meeting, that board member from the drug industry gets to influence that media. That’s the first influence. The second influence is they spend five to $10 billion a year. If you turn on the news tonight and just watch the nightly news, you’ll see seven to eight commercials from the pharmaceutical industry, telling you that something’s wrong with you, and that we have a pill for it.

Isn’t that what we’re seeing here Brigida? Tell us about the criteria here, that Big Pharma is pushing to convince adults that they have ADHD. What are these alleged symptoms that now show up in a DSM to where we can say, “Okay, we can make a diagnosis, and then we can charge Medicaid, we can charge Medicare, and they have to pay this claim because we have a diagnosis”? What’s your take on that?

Brigida Santos: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that medical professionals identify five criteria, symptoms I should say, for people suffering from adult ADHD. Now these are symptoms that are pretty much anything that you can think of that have to do with adulting in a capitalist society. Things like being forgetful, too busy, losing things, having trouble organizing, so most adults who take these surveys which you can find online, will come away from those surveys thinking that they too have ADHD, and that they should do something about it. Especially if you’re taking this survey on a really busy day where you might be picking up your kids from school, going to the grocery store, and also having to balance all of those challenges and deadlines at work Mike.

Mike Papantonio: Article after article comes out of Europe, talking about how Americans just love to take drugs, whether it’s ADHD drugs, whatever the drug of the day is, the drug du jour, Americans jump on it, they want to take as much as they can. How successful has Big Pharma been in pushing the ADHD drug on the public?

Brigida Santos: In adults, 3.4% have ADHD worldwide, and in the United States, it’s slightly higher at 4.4% of adults. While that number itself is not staggering, what is staggering is the fact that 80% of people who have been diagnosed with this are actually being misdiagnosed. They don’t have it at all. In fact, researchers say that adult onset ADHD des not exist. They say that 95% of people who are diagnosed with that as adults, are actually suffering from other psychiatric disorders, or even substance abuse itself Mike. These are very shocking numbers.

Mike Papantonio: Well there was a time when you could talk to just about any of your neighbors, your friends, and they would say, “Well I took my child to the doctor today,” and the child’s three years old, “And the doctor diagnosed ADHD.” I think what’s important is not to blame all that on the doctor, but to blame it on the industry that creates this hysteria. In other words, they have salespeople that go to their office every day, different salespeople from companies, and those salespeople carry with them, reports. The reports come from these people called biostitutes, or it may come from the industry, like this study for example.

You understand, this was written and run by the very industry who’s selling the drugs, and as you pointed out, you don’t know that until you get to the fine print at the end of the story. The salesperson shows up at the doctor’s office, and they’re used to seeing this person every day, and they say, “Look doc, we had a new breakthrough. Now we know that more adults have ADHD, and you know what? You ought to start prescribing this for adults.”

They do that, plus they take them on these junkets, where they send them to Hawaiian islands and they have these seminars about how important ADHD control is in adults. Before you know it, adults are also a victim, just like so many of these children were for so many years, and continue to be with ADHD drugs.

How does this over-diagnosis of ADHD affect the people who legitimately have this disorder?

Brigida Santos: It makes it a lot harder for parents to identify when their children are truly suffering from this disorder. Now as you mentioned earlier, we do know that this is a legitimate disorder for a small percent of the population, but at least two thirds of children who are diagnosed with ADHD, are not suffering from ADHD. We have a misdiagnosis epidemic, not an ADHD epidemic, and what’s so troubling is that neuroscientists have shown just how similar meth amphetamines are to Adderall, which is a drug that is prescribed to children and adults for ADHD management. That basically means that we are hooking children to meth for the rest of their life, meaning they’re not going to be sober a single day as long as they are on that medication, which makes them more likely to have addiction issues when they are adults.

Again, this is marketing. We see meth in the war on drugs, we see the Faces of Meth campaign, it’s a very bad drug, but then you put it in a pill bottle and it’s sold at the pharmacy, and suddenly children are able to study and reach their full potential just based on this marketing Mike.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah, this is another cash cow story Brigida, isn’t it? It’s one of those cash cow stories where some CEO is moving through the company, and they want to maximize their bonuses. They want to maximize their retirement from that company, their split from that company, because they typically move through, mostly five to six years, sometimes as little as three years, and so they’re always trying to find that cash cow drug. This one, I suppose it must be this ADHD drug, so all the management can make an awful lot of money. Heck with the people who are put at risk by taking a drug that they don’t need, taking a drug they can become addicted to. We’ve seen it with the opioid crisis, we’ve seen it with so many drugs over the years, this is just another situation, it is an ADHD phoneyed up epidemic.

If you don’t believe this story, spend a little time doing some research on the net, and you’ll find exactly what I’m talking about. It’s driven by the industry, and the people who actually have the problem, and there are people who really do have an ADHD problem, they become victims to this too. That’s the unfortunate thing about it.

Thanks for joining me Brigida.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.