As most of us know, gun control has been one of the topics of the Obama administration since last year’s number of high-profile mass shootings, the most recent of which occurred at Sandy Hook near Newtown, Connecticut, in December.
For years, I have wondered how it is that the United States has so many incidents like this. Fortunately, Karl ‘Market Ticker’ Denninger opened the debate on guns to include the effect of prescription drugs on influencing or creating such situations.
For those who are unfamiliar with Denninger, he is far from being a gun-slinging conservative. However, he does support the Constitution and self-reliance. That said, he might be an ex-Democrat, based on some of his posts. He isn’t a big fan of the GOP, either.
Whatever his politics, he has wisely included Big Pharma in his discussions about the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms. In ‘ENOUGH! (Guns, Active Shooters And Pharma)’, he writes (excerpts follow, emphases in the original):
I’m done being nice.
And I’m doubly-done with the damned leftists in this country performing the moral equivalent of ritual human sacrifice of children to advance their gun-control agenda.
That’s what I charge they’re doing.
And I’m going to back it up with mathematics, using just one of the common psychotropic medications used commonly today — Paxil.
This is from the prescribing information for Paxil:
Clinical Worsening and Suicide Risk:
There has been a long-standing concern, however, that antidepressants may have a role in inducing worsening of depression and the emergence of suicidality in certain patients during the early phases of treatment. Pooled analyses of short-term placebo-controlled trials of antidepressant drugs (SSRIs and others) showed that these drugs increase the risk of suicidal thinking and behavior (suicidality) in children, adolescents, and young adults (ages 18-24) with major depressive disorder (MDD) and other psychiatric disorders. Short-term studies did not show an increase in the risk of suicidality with antidepressants compared to placebo in adults beyond age 24 …
And it doesn’t end there:
Screening Patients for Bipolar Disorder
A major depressive episode may be the initial presentation of bipolar disorder. It is generally believed (though not established in controlled trials) that treating such an episode with an antidepressant alone may increase the likelihood of precipitation of a mixed/manic episode in patients at risk for bipolar disorder.
Now let’s be frank: Mixed manic states are mental states during which all sorts of really ugly things happen, including panic attacks, agitation, impulsiveness, paranoia and rage — all at extreme levels.
In other words, if you miss someone being bipolar and give them this drug you may precipitate a full-on Hulk-style “rage monster” sort of attack! …
Denninger goes into statistics concerning Paxil’s risks then states:
So let’s assume we’re not talking about bi-polar people — that is, let’s make the assumption that we properly screen for each person and perfectly identify all bi-polar people before we prescribe.
What is the expected number of people who will undergo some sort of manic episode, which includes the subset that will turn into rage-monsters and shoot up schools, movie theaters and other public places?
Answer: About 0.7% more that can be charged to the drug (the risk if you do nothing is 0.3%.)
Other similar drugs have similar risk profiles; Paxil is not particularly-remarkable in this regard.
I note, and you should note, that 0.7% is a pretty low risk! That is, 993 people out of 1000 can get a perfectly good outcome from the drug (or at least no harm) but that other 7 in 1000 have an outcome ranging from bad to catastrophically-bad …
The last figures I have are that in 2005 27 million people in the United States, or close to 1 in 10 of all persons, are on some sort of antidepressant carrying these risks.
So if 0.7% of 27 million people have a manic episode caused by these drugs — that is, under perfect conditions where we catch every single bipolar individual first and never prescribe to any of them we will have 189,000 persons in a year who have a manic reaction to these drugs.
But what’s worse is that if we assume 99% effective surveillance by the medical profession — that is, 99% of the time the doctor intercepts the person with the manic episode and modifies or terminates their use of the drug before something bad happens….
WE CREATE AND THEN FAIL TO DETECT, WITH NEARLY PERFECT PERFORMANCE (that we will never achieve) 1,890 RAGE MONSTERS EVERY YEAR WHO ARE MENTALLY CAPABLE OF COMMITTING A MASS HOMICIDE.
We’re surprised that there are a few of these a year, when we create more than 5 of them each and every day with near-perfect performance — and likely several times that many given the real-world monitoring that can actually be achieved?
We create these Zombies.
We prescribe the drugs to them.
We do this knowing that the risk exists and that at least one subset of that risk is materially higher for those under the age of 25 who are consuming these drugs.
In point of fact, most of the rage monsters who have committed these crimes are under the age of 25 and either using or having recently terminated the use of these drugs …
Utterly nobody is bringing this element to the table in debate, but we must, as the rise of these incidents is directly correlated to the gross increase in the number of people, including most-especially young people, taking these drugs. The number of users doubled from 1996 – 2005.
If you want to address a problem you must look at the data and follow it where it leads.
Where it leads is into a horrifying mess of prescription psychotropic drug use among our youth and the rare but catastrophic side effects they sometimes produce …
It’s true that most of the crazy people in the world aren’t violent, and that being crazy, standing alone, is perfectly legal. It’s also true that nearly all of the people who take these drugs won’t become violent — that’s a side effect that only bites a tiny percentage of the people who take the drug.
But the risk of turning people into rage monsters and suicidal maniacs appears to be mostly confined to those under the age of 24 according to the drug companies own information and this information is strongly correlated with the actual real-world data on these incidents.
We must have a discussion about this as a society. We might decide that out of the 27 million or more Americans taking these drugs that enough get benefit that we are willing to accept the occasional school or movie theater shooting gallery as the price of prescribing these drugs to those under the age of 24.
If so then we need to be honest about the trade-off we have made as a society and shut the hell up instead of dancing in the blood of dead children to score political points and destroy The Constitution.
But if not, and you can count my vote among the “No” votes in this regard, then we must ban these substances from those under the age of 24 until we understand what’s different among that age group that alters the risk unless and except those persons are under continual professional supervision such as inpatient hospitalization.
Yeah, I understand this will cut into the profits of the big drug companies and thus is “unacceptable” to many political folks, not to mention that the media won’t even talk about the subject due to the advertising they run on their networks on a daily basis for this drug or that …
And that is why the media are ignoring prescription drugs and focussing solely on guns in the debate. For those who have not been to the US within the past decade, Big Pharma comprises much of the advertising. Certain adverts, particularly for erectile dysfunction remedies, run several times within the space of an hour or two on certain television stations.
However, it is not only antidepressants which are concerned. Last week, I also posted on two types of sleeping tablets: Eszoplicone and Zolpidem, which produce unexpected results similar to those of antidepressants. (Incidentally, an antidepressant — Nortriptyline — is used in some prisons as a smoking cessation drug. It includes a number of serious side effects which could affect patients suffering both mental and physical maladies (e.g. schizophrenia, diabetes).)
Ignoring these drug effects whilst debating firearms is putting the Constitution in danger. As Denninger concludes:
Mr. Biden, Mr. Obama and the rest on both the left and right who are refusing to go where the data leads are all practicing the moral equivalent of ritual child sacrifice, fueling the pyre under the bodies of our kids with the Bill of Rights.
Stand up America and say in a loud voice: ENOUGH!
Writing to one’s Congressmen and Senators might not produce anything fruitful. However, we can also educate our left-leaning friends and family members, most of whom refuse to acknowledge this dismal truth.
Tomorrow: Antidepressants implicated in mass shootings