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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Aux Etats-Unis, deux millions d’enfants drogués chaque jour.

by By Jacques Coubard

United States: Two Million Children are Given Drugs Every Day

Translated by Jayne Poland

Translated Tuesday 28 March 2006, by Jane

In the United States, two million children are given drugs every day.
The foremost beneficiaries of this practice are the pharmaceutical laboratories.

Every day, two million children and one million adults in the United States take antidepressants. Such are the figures published by the National Institute on Drug Abuses (NIDA). The real figures are higher according to psychiatrists and psychiatric associations, who are worried about the increase in this consumption: an increse of 250% since 1990. The national agency which regulates food products and drugs (Food and Drug Administration) last month issued a warning on the use of psychotropic drugs and their important potential severe side effects, in particular cardio-vascular problems.

Children are the principle victims of these practices. They are quick to be labelled hyperactive, because of their inability to concentrate or impulsive behaviour. In the great majority of cases, they are prescribed Ritalin to make them more obedient, more manageable.
, even though the problems of these children are typically a product of their family situation, or their social or cultural context. Psychiatrists and psychiatric associations are alarmed at this trend and are denounceing the practice. A law has even been passed banning schools from recommending taking these drugs.

But the cultural pressure of the system is very strong. “We live in a highly competitive society, where you have to get the best qualifications by any means possible”, notes Nora Volkow, director of NIDA. The fever of competition begins even before school age, at the age of one or two years, encouraged by the maxim, “Srart smart, grow smart” which requiesan increasing number of tests of children’s knowledge and of the effectiveness of the educational establishments. George Bush is the architect of this political choice.

A choice which is not just ideological. It suits the pharmaceutical industry perfectly. The manufacturer of Ritalin, Novartis Ciba, makes millions of dollars out of it. Other laboratories are not far behind. All of them deny or play down the side effects of their drugs and continue calmly amassing profits. To the great delight of the Republican and Democrat parties, to whom they have donated 13 million dollars. More to the former, moreover, the President’s party, for whom the pharmaceutical industry constitutes the main provider of funds. These laboratories furthermore, maintain the largest number of lobbyists in Washington (1,200 according to a union leader), so as to influence the voting intentions of the Members of Congress.

Published in l’Humanite 13 March 2006

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