“Crazy” author Pete Earley talks about his son’s treatment for psychosis and mania

Posted by Maria Mangicaro
mangicaro829@aol.com

Uploaded by on Jan 29, 2010

Program Description:
Pete Earley will use his personal story to illustrate how difficult it is to get a loved one with a severe mental illness meaningful help. He will specifically focus on how and why persons, such as his son, often end up in our criminal justice system and why that is wrong. In addition to telling his sons story, he will describe the results of a nine month investigation that he conducted as a journalist inside the Miami Dade County jail where he followed persons with severe mental illnesses through the criminal justice system and out into the community to observe what services were available to them. The goal of his presentation is to explain why jails and prisons have become our new asylums, why this is wrong, why it wastes money, and how communities can better serve persons with mental illnesses by focusing on a variety of successful programs that help people recover rather than punish them for being ill.
Program Presenter:
In a *Washingtonian Magazine* cover story entitled, Top Journalists: Washingtons Media Elite, Pete Earley was described as one of a handful of journalists in America who have the power to introduce new ideas and give them currency. A former reporter for *The Washington Post*, he is the author of nine nonfiction books and three novels. His first book, *Family of Spies: Inside the John Walker Spy Ring*, was a New York Times bestseller and was made into a five hour miniseries shown on CBS television. For his book, The *Hot House: Life Inside Leavenworth Prison*, Earley spent a full year as a reporter inside a maximum security prison. His book, *Circumstantial Evidence* helped lead to the release of a black man from death row after he had been wrongly convicted of murdering a white teenager in Alabama. His book, *CRAZY: A Fathers Search Through Americas Mental Health Madness, *tells two stories. It describes his attempts to help is college age son, Mike, after he becomes ill with bipolar disorder and is arrested. It also describes a year that Earley spent at the Miami Dade County Jail where he followed persons with mental disorders, who had been in jail, out into the community to see what sort of services they received. His book was one of two finalists for the Pulitzer Prize in 2007 and has won awards from Mental Health America, National Alliance on Mental Illness, and the American Psychiatric Association.

Pete Earley forced his son to take Depakote because he believed it was helping him.  Long after he wrote his book “CRAZY” he found out he was wrong.

Failure of Leadership at Abbott Breaks Its Promise

Yesterday’s announcement that the global pharmaceutical giant Abbott Laboratories had agreed to pay $1.6 billion to state and federal agencies in criminal and civil fines made me furious. This is not the first time that a large drug manufacturer has been caught illegally promoting unapproved uses for one of its medicines.  But the Abbott case is especially egregious because it executives  exploited two vulnerable groups: persons with mental illnesses and the elderly.

The settlement ends a four-year investigation into a wide number of calculated moves by the Illinois-based company to push sales of its neurological drug Depakote into so called “off label” markets where it didn’t belong.  One of the more scandalous admissions was that executives created a special sales force to promote Depakote in nursing homes.  The sales force was told to push Depakote as a substitute for proper staffing since one of its side effects was turning grandma and grandpa into compliant zombies thus reducing the need to hire employees and provide decent care.  ”Abbott essentially preyed on…the most helpless patient populations,” one attorney noted.

Not only did Abbott prey on the elderly, it took advantage of persons with mental illnesses between 2001 and 2006 to increase Depakote sales. Two studies  funded by the company failed to prove the drug’s effectiveness as a booster for antipsychotic drugs, yet the company waited two years after the conclusion of the second study to notify its sales force and another two years to publish its findings.

Depakote was prescribed to my son during this time frame and, like hundreds of other concerned parents, I urged him to take it because I believed it was helping him.

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