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Surprised? Welcome to the freakish world of our nation’s health-care bureaucracy influenced by powerful lobbies, a world I discovered the hard way. I took the antidepressant drug Zoloft (prescribed by our family doctor) for five months in 2003. During that time I experienced a drastic loss of inhibitions, boundless energy, speaking constantly, a head full of wild ideas, etc.
But what goes up must come down, and down I crashed once I tapered off Zoloft. I had a nervous meltdown, blew thousands of hard earned dollars, slept 16 to 18 hours a day, hallucinated in Salvador Dali fashion, and became obsessed with suicide. That fall I had to drop out of college and since then I’ve been trying to put together some semblance of a life.
I finally went to a psychiatrist a year after I quit Zoloft and got a devastating assessment: Zoloft had caused hypomania, which “triggered” a bipolar disorder and worsened it with every dose. My grandfather had bipolar disorder and shot himself because of it. Had I known Zoloft could induce mania, I would never have taken the drug. I knew that there was a genetic component to the disease and I was at risk of developing it.
Nobody had warned me of this potential nightmare, not even the pharmacy’s Patient Insert leaflets, designed by a company named First Databank. I discovered the hypomania/mania side effect was listed on zoloft.com and had been recognized by Pfizer and the FDA since October 1996. Pfizer representatives told me they are not responsible for the information given out by pharmacies, that this information comes from electronic drug information companies.
EDI companies arose thanks to a bit of twisted history going back to the Reagan years. In 1979, during the Carter administration, the FDA pushed for mandatory Patient Inserts prepared by the drug companies with FDA oversight (as is currently done in several European countries). The pilot program was scrapped by an executive order issued by Reagan in 1981 and backed by the aggressive activities of vice president George Bush, head of the Administration’s regulatory reform council. The pharmaceutical industry had complained about costs and liability, pharmacists complained about storage space for the pre-printed Patient Inserts, and doctors complained that the warning sheets would infringe on the doctor-patient relationship.
The Reagan administration suggested the private sector design Patient Inserts, but it was never clear how that was to happen. Obviously the drug makers did not want to be involved and they got their wish. It was not mandatory for pharmacies to give Patient Inserts and ten years later it became clear the free market initiative was failing as people complained about injuries and of being ill informed. The head of the FDA during the
Today the FDA has no power to regulate the drug information provided by pharmacies and we play drug roulette every time we have a prescription filled. What insanity is this? The drug manufacturer has more knowledge of their product’s side effects and risks than any party, including the FDA. Big pharma is playing pass the buck when it comes to the “duty to warn,” while their advertising generates record profits off the psyches of unknowing consumers. Shouldn’t pharmaceutical companies be forced to bear the cost of injuries associated with their product’s use, and not the pharmacies?
Pharmaceutical outsourcing is another chronic symptom of the
Frazer Merritt is 23-years old and unemployed. He was a 4.0 student before his Zoloft “accident” and he had to drop out of the
Z Magazine Archive
HUMAN RIGHTS - The U.S. Human Rights Network will celebrate its 10th anniversary with the Advancing Human Rights 2013 Conference, December 6-8, in Atlanta, GA.
Contact: 250 Georgia Avenue SE, Suite 330, Atlanta, GA 30312; firstname.lastname@example.org; http:// www.ushrnetwork.org/.
AFRICAN/SOCIALIST - The Sixth Congress of the African People’s Socialist Party USA will be held December 7-11, in St. Petersburg, FL.
Contact: 1245 18th Avenue South, St. Petersburg, FL 33705; 727- 821-6620; info@aps puhuru.org; http://asiuhuru.org/.
SCHOOLS - The Dignity in Schools Campaign (DSC) will host a workshop on the DSC “Model Code on Education and Dignity: Presenting A Human Rights Framework for Schools” at the Mid-Hudson Region NY State Leadership Summit on School Justice Partnerships, December 11 in White Plains, NY.
Contact: http://www.dignityin schools.org/.
ANARCHIST/BOOKFAIR - The Humboldt Anarchist Book Fair will be held December 14, in Eureka, CA.
Contact: humboldtgrassroots @riseup.net; http://humbold tanarchist bookfair.wordpress. com/.
CLIMATE - The World Symposium on Sustainable Development at Universities is hosting a follow-up event to the 2012 Rio de Janeiro symposium. The gathering will be held in Qatar on January 28-30, 2014.
Contact: http://environment.tufts. edu/.
LABOR - The United Association for Labor Education (UALE) will host Organizing for Power: A New Labor Movement for the New Working Class in Los Angeles, March 26-29. Proposals are due December 15.
Contact: LAWCHA, 226 Carr Building (East Campus), Box 90719, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708-0719;lawcha @duke. edu; http://lawcha.org/.
MEDIA FELLOWSHIP - The Media Mobilizing Project is seeking applicants for the first annual Movement Media Fellowship Program. The Fellow will work with MMP to produce the spring season of Media Mobilizing Project TV. MMPTV is a news and talk show that tells the stories of local communities organizing to win human rights and build a movement to end poverty.
Contact: 4233 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA 19104; 215-821- 9632; milena@media mobilizing.org; http://www.media mobilizing.org/.
RACE - The 7th Facing Race: A National Conference will be held in Dallas, TX November 13-15, 2014. Organizers, educators, artists, funders and everyone interested in racial equity is invited to exchange best practices and learn about innovative models and successful organizing initiatives. Proposals must be submitted by January 24, 2014.
Contact: Race Forward, 32 Broadway, Suite 1801, New York, NY 10004; 212-513-7925; media @raceforward.org; http://race forward.org/.
VETERANS - They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return from America’s Wars - The Untold Story, by Ann Jones, is about the journey of veterans from the moment of being wounded in rural Afghanistan to their return home.
Contact: Haymarket Books, PO Box 180165, Chicago, IL 60618; 773-583-7884; http://www.haymarketbooks.org/.
LIBYA - Destroying Libya and World Order: The Three-Decade U.S. Campaign to Terminate the Qaddafi Revolution, by Francis A. Boyle, is a history and critique of American foreign policy from Reagan to Obama.
Contact: Clarity Press, Inc., Ste. 469, 3277 Roswell Rd. NE, Atlanta, GE 30305; 404-647-6501; email@example.com; http://www. claritypress.com/.
CHILDREN - Fannie and Freddie by Becky Z. Dernbach is about two bumbling villains who gamble away the savings of the people of Homeville.
Contact: fannieandfreddiebook @gmail.com; http://fannieand freddie.org/.
PROTEST/COMIC - Fight the Power!: A Visual History of Protest Among English Speaking Peoples, by Sean Michael Wilson and Benjamin Dickson is a graphic narrative that explains how people have fought against oppression.
Contact: Seven Stories Press, 140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-226-8760; info@ sevenstories.com; http://www. sevenstories.com.
CHILDREN - Brave Girl by Michelle Markel and illustrated by Melissa Sweet is the true story of Clara Lemlich, a young Ukrainian immigrant who led the largest strike of women workers in U.S. history.
Contact: http://www.harpercollins childrens.com/Kids/.
FESTIVAL - The 2014 Queer Women of Color Film Festival will be held June 13-15 in San Francisco. The festival is currently accepting submissions until December 31.
Contact: QWOCMAP, 59 Cook Street, San Francisco, CA 94118-3310; 415-752-0868; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.qwocmap.org/.
IRAQ/REFUGEES - Ten years after the U.S.-led war in Iraq, thousands of displaced Iraqi refugees are still facing a crisis in the United States. The Lost Dream follows Nazar and Salam who had to flee Iraq in order to avoid threats by Al- Qaeda-affiliated groups and Iraqi insurgents that consider them “traitors” for supporting U.S. forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Contact: Typecast Films, 888- 591-3456; info@type castfilms. com; http://type castfilms.com/.
HUMAN RIGHTS - Lyrical Revolt! III will be held December 4 in Syracuse, NY. The event will feature hip-hop musician Anhel whose album Young, Gifted, and Brown was just released. The event is sponsored by ANSWER Syracuse, Liberation News, and SyracuseHip Hop.com. Performers and artists are encouraged to send submissions.
Contact: email@example.com; http://www.answercoalition.org/syracuse/.
FOLK - Musician Painless Parker has released his album Music for miscreants, malcontents and misanthropes featuring “Fuck Yeah, the Working Class.”
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; http://painlessparkermusic.com/.
COMEDY - Political comedian Lee Camp’s new album Pepper Spray the Tears Away has been released.