"Isabella Bailey, Anya’s mother, said she had no idea that children might be especially susceptible to Risperdal’s side effects. Nor did she know that Risperdal and similar medicines were not approved at the time to treat children, or that medical trials often cited to justify the use of such drugs had as few as eight children taking the drug by the end.
"Just as surprising, Ms. Bailey said, was learning that the university psychiatrist who supervised Anya’s care received more than $7,000 from 2003 to 2004 from Johnson & Johnson, Risperdal’s maker, in return for lectures about one of the company’s drugs.
Check this part of the article out!
"Dr. Realmuto said he did not remember Anya’s case, but speaking generally he defended his unapproved use of Risperdal to counter an eating disorder despite the drug’s risks. “When things are dangerous, you use extraordinary measures,” he said.
"Ten years ago, Dr. Realmuto helped conduct a study of Concerta, an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder drug marketed by Johnson & Johnson, which also makes Risperdal. When Concerta was approved, the company hired him to lecture about it.
"He said he gives marketing lectures for several reasons.
“'To the extent that a drug is useful, I want to be seen as a leader in my specialty and that I was involved in a scientific study,” he said.
"The money is nice, too, he said. Dr. Realmuto’s university salary is $196,310.
“'Academics don’t get paid very much,”[!!!!!] he said. “If I was an entertainer, I think I would certainly do a lot better.”
"Industry analysts estimate that such payments — to cancer doctors and the other big users of the drugs, kidney dialysis centers — total hundreds of millions of dollars a year and are an important source of profit for doctors and the centers. The payments have risen over the last several years, as the makers of the drugs, Amgen and Johnson & Johnson, compete for market share and try to expand the overall business.
"Neither Amgen nor Johnson & Johnson has disclosed the total amount of the payments. But documents given to The New York Times show that at just one practice in the Pacific Northwest, a group of six cancer doctors received $2.7 million from Amgen for prescribing $9 million worth of its drugs last year.
"Yesterday, the Food and Drug Administration added to concerns about the drugs, releasing a report that suggested that their use might need to be curtailed in cancer patients. The report, prepared by F.D.A. staff scientists, said no evidence indicated that the medicines either improved quality of life in patients or extended their survival, while several studies suggested that the drugs can shorten patients’ lives when used at high doses. Yesterday’s report followed the F.D.A.’s decision in March to strengthen warnings on the drugs’ labels.
"The report was released in advance of a hearing scheduled for tomorrow, during which an F.D.A. advisory panel will consider whether the drugs are overused.