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Bipolar News

June 29, 2005

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Epilepsy, Bipolar Drugs Carry Birth Defect Risks
Atlanta Journal Constitution (subscription) - GA,USA
But because millions of American women rely on these drugs to control serious conditions such as bipolar disorder and epilepsy, the experts also stressed that ...

Psychiatrists Defend Psychiatric Drug Use
FOX News - USA
... former patient. The patient said her 20-something daughter -- on medication for bipolar disorder -- saw the Cruise interview. Levy ...

Troubles of Royko's son detailed
Chicago Tribune - Chicago,IL,USA
... failed robbery was the result of wild personality swings Royko underwent after he suddenly stopped using a powerful drug to treat bipolar disorder, Gutierrez ...

Facts about bipolar disorder
Hilton Head Island Packet - Hilton Head Island,SC,USA
Although a specific genetic link to bipolar disorder has not been found, studies show that 80 to 90 percent of those who suffer from bipolar disorder have ...

Mental health services merge
Read more here.

Gene Testing Doesn't Increase Anxiety, Depression In Children Of People With Alzheimer's
Read more here.

Mental health treatments falling short, studies find
Read more here.

Ten year plan for mental health
Read more here.

Mental health charity warns of consequences of online gambling
Read more here.

Can kids become 'unlovable'? Parents struggle with bipolar disorders
Read more here.

Teen Depression Quiz: Is your teen depressed?
Read more here.

Depression Common In People With Chronic Cough
Read more here.

Brain Pacemaker Could Ease Severe Depression
Read more here.

American Medical Association Urges FDA to Examine Effects of Antidepressant Warning

At its annual conference last week in Chicago, the American Medical Association approved a resolution to urge the FDA to study how the warnings that come with antidepressant medications may be affecting the way in which physicians prescribe and patients use the drugs. The warnings alert people to the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior among children and teens who take antidepressants. "The safe use of antidepressants in children and adolescents must consider the severity of the disorder being treated and the anticipated risks and benefits of treatment for each individual," AMA Trustee Cyril M. Hetsko said in a statement, explaining that untreated depression raises the risk for suicidal behavior in young people. (Dow Jones Newswires, 6/21/05)

Decline in Healthcare Spending Slows

Although healthcare spending declined from an increase of 8.4 percent in 2003 to an increase of 8.2 percent in 2004, the rate of the decline has slowed over previous years, a new Center for Studying Health System Changes study published in Health Affairs indicates. This finding is “bad new for patients,” they said because it will place pressure on employers to shift even more costs to employees in the form of higher deductibles and copayments. The study also shows that many employers are reducing the types of treatments their health plans cover. (The Wall Street Journal, 6/21/05)

States Seek to “Shame” Companies to Pressure Them to Provide Better Health Insurance Coverage

Several states have passed or are considering legislation that would publicize the names of companies located within their state that have employees who are enrolled in Medicaid and other public health programs. The goal of these bills is to “shame” the companies into providing better health insurance to their workers, supporters say. In Georgia in 2002, 10,000 of the 166,000 children enrolled in a public program, for example, were children of Wal-Mart employees. Many business and Chambers of Commerce say that these efforts ignore the good that companies do and send an anti-business message. (USA Today, 6/22/05)

Private Health Insurance System Inefficient, but Wholesale Changes Too Expensive, Economists Say

Although the present private healthcare system is inefficient and restrains productivity, scrapping the system for something new would be very expensive, concluded economists who spoke at a conference last week sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. The economists noted that businesses only provide coverage to their employees and their families to further the companies’ goals or as part of union agreements. As a result, when insurance coverage doesn’t advance their goals, companies will cut back on coverage or eliminate it altogether. Because completely restructuring the system would not be supported by taxpayers, who would have to foot the costs, the economists suggested piecemeal reforms to gradually increase coverage to people who currently lack insurance. (Reuters Health, 6/24/05)

States Increase Collections of Medicaid Enrollees’ Bills After Death

Many families of people who were enrolled in Medicaid before they died are receiving large bills to reimburse states for the care that their loved ones received. Several families have had to sell homes and other property to pay the bills. Although the federal government has required states to collect on such bills since 1993, most states have either ignored the order or only followed it half-heartedly, reluctant to pressure bereaved families who often only have modest means. But with state Medicaid budgets stretched thin, most states are now aggressively collecting on past bills. (The Wall Street Journal, 6/24/05)

Concerns Arise That Benzodiazepines Won’t Be Covered by States After Jan. 1

Although the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has urged states to continue providing to people who are eligible for both Medicaid and Medicare coverage for benzodiazepines, a class of drugs commonly used to treat anxiety, insomnia and seizures, there’s no guarantee that they will do so once the new Medicare Part D benefit starts. When Congress created the new benefit two years ago, it excluded from coverage almost all of the drugs, including benzodiazepines, that states were not required to cover. Advocates and health professionals, however, are concerned that states will stop providing benzodiazepine coverage as a way to save money. (The Associated Press/Los Angeles Times, 6/27/05)

Nonprofit Panel Releases Recommendations for Overhauling Nonprofit Governance

The Panel on the Nonprofit Sector released a report last week, the recommendations for which, if adopted in legislation, could “mean the most sweeping changes to the governance and regulation of nonprofits in three decades.” The panel was spearheaded by the Independent Sector at the urging of Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who is the chair of the Senate Finance Committee. The report’s recommendations address several areas, including nonprofit executives’ salaries, appraisals of non-cash donations and the use of donor-advised funds. The report can be found at http://www.nonprofitpanel.org/final. (The Wall Street Journal, 6/23/05)

Supreme Court Rules That Criminal Defendants Have a Right to State-Appointed Attorneys in Appellate Process

The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a Michigan law last week that prevented state-appointed defense lawyers from helping criminal defendants through the appellate process if the defendant had pleaded guilty or no contest in their original trials. The law’s intent was to reduce the backlog of cases in court system and, if upheld, would have been adopted by many other states. The court ruled that all defendants have the right to an attorney. This right is especially important during the appellate process, which can be confusing for any layperson, but particularly for people with mental impairments, the court ruled. (Dow Jones Newswires, 6/24/05)

Research News

Heroin Physical Effects Found Similar to the Early Stages of Alzheimer’s: Young heroin users may develop brain damage similar to that of older people undergoing the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease, according to British researchers. The researchers found that young heroin users’ brains develop similar damage due to plaques in the parts associated with learning and memory as do people with Alzheimer’s. The study was published in the journal Neuropathology and Applied Neurobiology. (Reuters Health, 6/24/05)

New Fathers’ Post-Natal Depression Has Implications for Children’s Emotional Health: Although most often associated with new mothers, new fathers can also have post-natal depression, a new study published in the journal The Lancet indicates. Such depression can affect the emotional health of young children, especially boys, according to Oxford University researchers. Young boys whose fathers are depressed have twice as many behavioral problems as other children, the researchers found. (Reuters Health, 6/24/05)

Stress Can Affect Fertility Treatment: Although personal and marital stress has a profound affect on women’s success with fertility treatment, researchers found that such stress also affects men, a new study indicates. "Our results clearly demonstrate that male stress does play a role in treatment failure, albeit a weaker one than that observed for women," Dr. Jacky Boivin of Britain’s Cardiff University. The study was published in the journal Fertility and Sterility. (Reuters Health, 6/24/05)

Pharmaceutical News

Companies to Produce Alcoholism Drug Jointly: Cephalon Inc. agreed to buy a 50 percent stake in Alkermes Inc.’s alcoholism treatment, Vivitrex, the marketing application for which is pending before the FDA. A company-sponsored study that had been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that Vivitrex, which works by acting on the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, was effective in reducing the craving for alcohol by heavy drinkers. (The Wall Street Journal, 6/27/05)

State News

California: The Westwood Veterans Affairs Hospital in Los Angeles is reviewing the case of a 65-year-old man who was receiving inpatient psychiatric help and was discharged earlier this month and then found dead by police under a freeway on-ramp three weeks later. Although the man was married, his wife wasn’t informed that he was being released until two days after he left the hospital. Hospital officials disputed the contention by some that the man was released quickly due to sharp funding cuts in the hospital’s inpatient psychiatric services. The cause of the man’s death is still pending. (Los Angeles Times, 6/27/05)

72-hour hold: in this excerpt from a riveting new novel by best-selling author Bebe Moore Campbell, a mother confronts her daughter's frightening mental chaos.

Essence; 7/1/2005

In the beginning, it was like being suspicious of a husband. Those little pinprick inklings tickled the inside of my skull. I explained everything away until I couldn't. The reason he was gone all the time was because he was working; the reason she talked so fast was because she was excitable, emotional. The reason he didn't reach for me at night was because he was tired from working so hard. The reason she couldn't sleep at night was because she was so wound up from studying. None of her old friends came around anymore because, well, people outgrow each other. The silence at the dinner table, the quiet in our bedroom--he was preoccupied with his work. All the speeding tickets? Didn't all young people speed? The spending sprees? That was my fault, I never should have let Trina have a credit card. But then she cursed at me. His silences grew deeper. How could she say those things? Baby, what's going on? Trina, what's wrong?

Years before, Clyde had told me, "There's nobody else; there's just no us."

With Trina I drew my own conclusions: My child is sick.

I waded through quicksand to get to those words. It was up to my neck when I finally spoke them aloud. "Your daughter is bipolar, also known as manic-depressive," the doctor at the second hospital had told me. That was at UCLA, last August, a week before she was scheduled to leave for Brown University. I had taken Trina there after she began telling me that I was a devil who had stolen her from her real mother. I sat with her in admittance and told the clerk that my child needed psychiatric care. I whispered the words but they came out of my mouth all the same.

The woman checked our insurance, and then she found a bed for Trina in the psychiatric ward on the nonacute side. When I returned the next day I demanded a psychological evaluation. The UCLA doctor was Russian, his accent thick. His words bewildered me. I asked him to repeat what he'd said.

"Ms. Whitmore, your daughter is bipolar."

That was the scariest part, the way he said it. She is bipolar, not she has bipolar. You are cancer. You are AIDS. Nobody ever said that.

"How long before she gets better?"

"Woman," the doctor said, not unkindly, "don't set your clock."

I thought about the time I'd almost had her hospitalized during the Christmas break when she was in the eleventh grade, but for drugs, not psychosis. My ex-boyfriend and I had returned from the movies. When we drove up to my house, every light was turned on and music was blaring. Inside I found Trina wearing one of my cocktail dresses. Her face was a garish rainbow--silver eye shadow, red lips, pink cheeks. She was heading for the door.

"Whoa," I said. "Where do you think you're going?"

"You can't stop me, Demon Queen."

She began screaming, and when I listened to what she was saying--calling me a devil, accusing me of killing her real mother, themes she would return to again and again--I became alarmed. My ex-boyfriend and I tried to settle her down.

"What are you on?" I asked her over and over. Her answer was more screaming and cursing.

Ex-Boyfriend and I drove her straight to the hospital, but when the attendant suggested that her problem might be mental, I balked.

"My daughter doesn't have a mental problem," I told him.

By that time Trina had calmed down so much that when the emergency-room physician said that he didn't see anything wrong, I was ready to believe him. Keep an eye on her for the next 48 hours, he told me.

On the way back, Trina apologized for her outburst, swore that she hadn't taken anything, explained that she hadn't been sleeping well because she was studying so hard for midterms. It was a plausible excuse; that's what I told myself.

That episode was but a foreshadowing of the post--high-school-graduation episode that landed her in UCLA. That night in August she seemed to be floating on a)et stream of hallucinatory energy that punctuated her every word. Around four o'clock that morning I awoke to her footsteps, kitchen-cabinet doors slamming shut, music playing in her room, television voices that were way too loud. She began calling people on the telephone and had dozens of disjointed conversations, one right after another, as though she were frightened of being without a connection. Later there were soft thuds as she ran down the back stairs into the kitchen, then more slamming, shutting, opening of drawers, cabinets, the refrigerator. After a while I smelled food. When I came downstairs, I found ten cold pancakes, lopsided from syrup and butter, piled on a plate.

For the rest of the day she stayed in her room. The light on her phone didn't go out for more than two minutes. That light mesmerized and terrorized, like a whip dangling from Massa's hand.

I was in the kitchen with Ex-Boyfriend when she came down the back stairs that evening. It was Saturday. I had called her father but I couldn't locate him. So Ex-Boyfriend came. We were sitting at my kitchen table, and I was describing Trina's behavior.

"Baby," he said, as gently as he could, "it sounds like crack or maybe meth."

Hearing my worst suspicions voiced by another, I began to cry. Then we heard the clicking of high heels on the stairs. Minutes before she appeared, the room became filled with the odor of perfume; it was way too much of a good thing. Not a good sign. About nine o'clock and she was going out. Not a good plan. It was Mom's job to try to stop her.

Trina had on a micromini red-leather skirt, a transparent white blouse and, underneath, a black bra I'd never seen before. But what really took my breath away was her war paint. Her pretty mouth was a slash of iridescent white. The lids of her large, clear eyes were smeared with bright green. Brick-colored blush accented her high cheekbones. She had shaved off her eyebrows and penciled in two black half moons. There were splashes of pink spray paint in her hair. He's right, I thought. Ex-Boyfriend took my hand.

"Give me your leather coat," she called from the steps. Different strategies and ensuing scenarios collided in my mind. But all the well-planned words would result in yelling and screaming, and by that time I'd begun to be afraid of where arguing might lead.

"No," I said weakly, managing to add, "Where do you think you're going looking like that?" I got up from the table and walked over to the bottom of the stairs.

"I'm going to meet some very important people. They're helping me get into medical school."

"What people?"

She ignored me.

"Trina, have you looked in the mirror?"

"Why don't you look in the f---ing mirror sometimes?"

She rushed down the last steps and in an instant we were nose to nose on the bottom step. "You're such a bitch," she hissed.

"Trina, you need to chill, babygirl," Ex-Boyfriend said.

"You're not my father."

Ex-Boyfriend stood up.

"Maybe you'd better go," I told him.

"No, she's on something. I'm not leaving you with her," he said. He just stood there at the table.

I could feel Trina's breath on my face, see the flames rioting in her eyes. That's when I knew that she wanted to hurt me. That's when I knew that what was wrong was soul-deep and strong as chains. What was wrong wasn't drugs. What was wrong was why she needed them.

Mg baby is sick.

Now, as I sat in Dr. Ustinov's office trying to connect all the dots, my mind grew clogged, and there were blanks in my memory. When did she catch this brain flu? Was it in tenth grade when her best friend moved away? Was it in eleventh grade when her sweetie broke her heart? Or earlier? When we uprooted her from Atlanta? When her father left? What was the trauma? Had someone's hands touched her in the wrong place? Was I too critical, too much of a perfectionist, too busy working to pay enough attention?

I began to cry and Dr. Ustinov handed me a tissue. "Listen, Mother, it's not about masons. It's about medication. This runs in families, like diabetes or high blood pressure. This is mostly genetic."

"Or bad parenting." I began weeping.

Dr. Ustinov leaned across his desk and brought his face close to mine. "This is not clear thinking, Mother. All parents make mistakes. My own father beat me with a broomstick for the slightest infraction. I am damaged, but I am not mentally ill because I'm not genetically predisposed to this sort of disease. Did you give her this illness? No. Be careful, Mother, you will make yourself sick. Your daughter can have a good life, even with this. Don't blame yourself."

Ha! Isn't it always Mommy's fault? Mom didn't do this; she didn't do that. She nursed too long. She bottle-fed. She slapped the s--t out of the kid. She spoiled the brat. She was too dumb and too lazy to get a job. She worked full-time and never paid attention. She weighed 300 pounds and waddled into school for open house; she weighed 110 and always showed too much cleavage. She traded Dad in for a lesbian lover; she stayed with a husband who beat her and set a poor example; she left the fool and broke up the family. Worse yet, she kicked his ass and started running things. She let her boyfriends spend the night; she didn't provide a male role model for her kids. She never cleaned; she screamed when the little ones tracked in mud. She let her children run wild and had herself a good ole time. Her child was drowning, and she didn't save her.

Motherless child; childless mother.

God was doing His stand-up routine again.

Excerpted from 72 Hour Hold by Bebe Moore Campbell, to be published by Alfred A. Knopf in July 2005,

BEBE MOORE CAMPBELL ON MENTAL ILLNESS

INTERVIEWED BY EVELYN C. WHITE

Bebe Moore Campbell, the award-winning 20-year publishing veteran (Brothers and Sisters, Singing in the Comeback Choir, Your Blues Ain't Like Mine) is poised to mark the release of her new novel, 72 Hour Hold (Knopf). In the book, the former elementary-school teacher offers readers a gripping saga of mental illness in an affluent Black family. The story centers on Keri, the owner of a thriving Los Angeles consignment shop, whose daughter, Trina, suffers from bipolar disorder, or manic depression. The malady triggers harrowing episodes of paranoia and violence that bring upheaval and, eventually, understanding to all.

EVELYN C. WHITE: 72 Hour Hold refers to the three-day period during which a hospital can monitor mentally ill people against their will if they meet certain criteria. Why did you choose bipolar disease as the novel's theme?

BEBE MOORE CAMPBELL: I was inspired by my own journey as the family member of a person with a mental illness. My experience with my loved one, as well as the experiences of others grappling with the same issues, provided adequate research. And as a novelist, I gave my imagination free rein.

WHITE: How did you cope with such an emotionally charged topic during the two years when you were writing the book?

CAMPBELL: While writing, I was caring for my mentally ill relative. I took care of myself by eating right, drinking lots of water, exercising and praying. I'm cofounder of a local chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (nami.org). We offer support groups for those suffering from mental disorders and for their families. My support group gave me strength and comfort.

WHITE: There is so much shame around mental illness in our community, Beyond the wisdom your novel imparts, what advice do you have for African-Americans dealing with mentally ill family and friends?

CAMPBELL: We need to give up the closet regarding mental illness. There is help available, but only if folks admit they need it. In addition to NAMI, they can contact their local department of mental health to find other resources. It's critical that people with mental illness obtain a correct diagnosis. Proper medication can manage many symptoms.

Evelyn C. White is the author of Alice Walker: A Life (W.W. Norton).

COPYRIGHT 2005 Essence Communications, Inc.

Costs of caring for uninsured on the rise.

St. Petersburg Times (St. Petersburg, Florida) (via Knight-Ridder/Tribune Business News); 6/28/2005

Byline: Nicole Johnson

Jun. 28--Pinellas County is dipping into its cash reserves for $3.3-million to cover an unexpected jump in the number of uninsured people seeking subsidized medical care this year.

There are about 2,900 people enrolled in the county's health services plan, and that number is expected to reach 3,000 before the 2004-2005 fiscal year ends in September, said Evelyn Bethell, director of the county's human services department.

By comparison, program administrators ha d expected to serve about 2,700 people this year, said Clark Scott, senior department administrative manager.

The program's increased costs are a combination of there being more people in need and the rising cost of health care, officials say.

In 2002, the county had to slow down enrollment because of budget constraints. That created a waiting list of sorts for people who needed services. With the county's finances in better shape, officials have started letting more people in.

Higher costs for things such as tests, doctor visits and medical equipment are driving up the cost of health care nationwide. Combine that with smaller state and federal contributions, and local governments end up picking up larger bills when it comes to health care for the poor.

"There are greater needs in the community, and as those needs continue to increase, the resources diminish," Bethell said. "A lot of times we're at the mercy of the feds and the state, and when they cut back on things, and the economy goes down, people find themselves without health insurance.

"Our program is not that big, so any little thing can affect it."

The nature of the program also gives county officials little choice but to pay.

"Our basic charge as government is to provide for the safety, health and welfare of our citizens," said county Administrator Steve Spratt. "This stands as a priority in my eyes and something we look to our reserves to fund."

The county currently keeps about $15-million for unforeseen expenses, said Jerry Herron, county director of the Office of Management and Budget.

"It all depends on the priority of the problem, and in this case you really can't not allow someone to have the operation or not pay for things they need when it's a life-or-death situation," Herron said.

The human services department's proposed budget for the next fiscal year is $58-million, almost an 11 percent jump from this year. The health care program accounts for the majority of that increase, Scott said.

County commissioners will grapple with funding that request and dozens of others in the coming weeks when the county's proposed 2006 fiscal plan is revealed.

"The increase is largely because of that health care program," Herron said. "... The general costs of health care inflation are starting to catch up with us, and we just can't avoid the increases."

The indigent health care program functions as a typical medical insurance program, except there isn't a deductible. To qualify, a person must be considered below the poverty level. He or she must also be at least 18, a U.S. citizen and a county resident.

To receive the benefits, patients must first go to one of six human services office locations and be interviewed by a social worker. The social worker assesses a person's illness and assigns a doctor. The person is issued a program insurance card, which he or she can use at the doctor's office, an emergency room and a pharmacy.

But the program is not preventive in nature.

"Our managed health care is for people seriously ill," Bethell said.

On Monday, 51-year-old Terry Clark of Largo flashed the little blue card with his name and a thumbnail picture of his face while seated in the waiting area of the Clearwater Health Services Office.

With the card, he's able to see a primary care doctor and get medicine for his bipolar disorder and high blood pressure, said Clark, who is unemployed.

Both conditions, he said, went untreated for years. He came to the county's health care program two months ago.

"I always thought it was funny that you had to crash and burn before you could get any help," said Clark, a soft-spoken man with a neatly trimmed salt-and-pepper goatee. "But it's still a good thing because even with a job, nobody can even touch the cost of medical bills these days."

It cost taxpayers about $432 a month for each person in the county's health care program.

With more funding, Bethell said, the program could expand to provide preventive measures, but for now, caring for the ill is primary.

Pinellas County is one of the few large urban areas in Florida without a dedicated funding source for insurance for the indigent. Both Dade and Hillsborough counties have dedicated sources. Hillsborough's program is backed by sales tax revenue.

County Commissioner Calvin Harris said that's something that may need to change. The answer could be in the Penny for Pinellas.

In the past five years, the penny, a one-cent local government sales tax, has generated almost $600-million to pay for a new jail facility, roads and endangered land. Voters must renew the tax in 2010.

Harris said the county should consider allocating some of the money to the health care program. But the tax is legally dedicated to capital improvements. A shift would require legislative and voter approval.

"It was already a problem in 1997 when I got here," Harris said. "So, we've talked about this problem for a long time but haven't been able to address it."

Spratt said the change would require a balancing act.

"You'd have to figure out how you continue to fund those types of things that the public requires, such as roads, with the needs of a program like this," Spratt said. "We've got huge transportation and infrastructure needs."

To see more of the St. Petersburg Times -- including its homes, jobs, cars and other classified listings -- or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.sptimes.com.

Copyright (c) 2005, St. Petersburg Times, Fla.

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.

For information on republishing this content, contact us at (800) 661-2511 (U.S.), (213) 237-4914 (worldwide), fax (213) 237-6515, or e-mail reprints@krtinfo.com.

COPYRIGHT 2005 St. Petersburg Times

Eli Lilly won't lower prices for Medicaid.

Tampa Tribune (Tampa, Florida) (via Knight-Ridder/Tribune Business News); 6/28/2005

Byline: Garrett Therolf

Jun. 28--TALLAHASSEE -- Florida's 2.2 million Medicaid recipients will find it more difficult next month to obtain the antidepressant Prozac, as well as a commonly prescribed drug for treating schizophrenia.

Under orders by Gov. Jeb Bush and the Legislature, state officials are paring $292 million from the $2.5 billion Medicaid prescription drug budget through price negotiations with drug companies and efforts to reduce access to certain drugs.

The state announced Monday that Eli Lilly is refusing to lower its prices.

"Lilly has refused to negotiate with the state altogether. They are the only of 219 brand name manufacturers that did not respond to the state's bid request," Jonathan Burns, spokesman for the Agency for Health Care Administration, wrote in an e-mail to The Tampa Tribune. "Lilly's drugs, therefore, will not be on the [preferred drug list], but will still be available through the prior authorization process."

The prior authorization process, which will apply to the Eli Lilly drugs by mid-July, requires that patients first try one of the less expensive drugs once a year before becoming eligible for their doctors to seek approval for more expensive medication.

Because of the hassle factor in that process, more than 95 percent of the drugs prescribed to Medicaid recipients come directly from the preferred drug list.

Mental health advocates are complaining that a temporary disruption in medication could cost their clients jobs and possibly result in costly stays in mental hospitals.

Eli Lilly also produces Zyprexa, the most commonly prescribed drug for schizophrenia and acute bipolar disorder.

"For the thousands of Medicaid recipients who rely on Zyprexa alone, this change can be life-threatening," said Bob Sharpe, a former Florida Medicaid director who heads the Florida Council for Community Mental Health. "These are absolutely essential medications that are not interchangeable."

Eli Lilly produces a variety of drugs, including medications for treating diabetes, cancer and osteoporosis.

Anne Swerlick, a Florida Legal Services attorney who represents Medicaid recipients, complained the Eli Lilly announcement came even before a scheduled meeting Wednesday in which state officials are to receive public comment on changes to the preferred drug list.

The list now includes 3,000 medications.

"It's clear that the input of the provider community and recipients is irrelevant to this process," Swerlick said.

Eli Lilly spokeswoman Carole Puls said the company -- using a strategy similar to other pharmaceutical companies -- has provided more than $600,000 this year to patient advocates to publicize opposition to cuts in drug access.

Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Alan Levine, in a letter to Eli Lilly, called that funding a "reprehensible strategy for protecting exorbitant prices."

To see more of the Tampa Tribune -- including its homes, jobs, cars and other classified listings -- or to subscribe to the newspaper, go to http://www.tampatrib.com.

Copyright (c) 2005, Tampa Tribune, Fla.

Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.

For information on republishing this content, contact us at (800) 661-2511 (U.S.), (213) 237-4914 (worldwide), fax (213) 237-6515, or e-mail reprints@krtinfo.com.

TICKER SYMBOL(S): LLY

COPYRIGHT 2005 Tampa Tribune

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