NHS Loses Fight Over Publication of Antipsychotic Meds Brochures for Kids

Last Updated Nov 20, 2009 11:36 AM EST

Britain's National Health Service is losing a fight against the Bonkers Institute for Nearly Genuine Research -- a web site that publicizes the underbelly of psychiatric medicine -- over brochures for children that tell them how to take antipsychotic medicines such as Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)'s Risperdal (risperidone).

The Bonkers Institute added three leaflets -- for risperidone, atomoxetine and olanzapine -- to its gallery of advertising for kids' mental health medicines. The NHS has asked the web site to take them down as they are intended for patients only.

The brochures say things such as:

Why am I taking risperidone? It can help if you are having thoughts that leave you feeling frightened or confused, or if you are hearing upsetting or annoying voices when nobody is there. It can also help if you are worried or frightened, or confused, and if you are finding it hard to concentrate on doing normal everyday tasks.
Risperidone is not approved for children in the U.S., and its off-label use in kids is controversial. BNET was not able to find out whether risperidone is approved for pediatric use in the UK as the British National Formulary web site blocks access to U.S. users. Nonetheless, antipsychotic use in children is considered rare in the U.K.

Sue Eccles, deputy chief pharmacist for the Central and North West London NHS Trust, wrote to the Bonkers Institute requesting the leaflets be removed because their availability on the web threatens NHS funding:

... the only way that we will be able to produce more materials for patient benefit is by recouping the cost from other organisations which want to use them ... We charge a reasonable fee for full access to all the children's leaflets and so it [sic] not in our interest, or necessarily, patients and parents to have access to them on your website without the professional support intended.
A response from "Dr. Bonkers" reads:
We posted the NHS leaflets to stimulate public scrutiny of your agency. We call upon the NHS to stop promoting harmful psychotropic drugs for children. In a spirit of full disclosure and transparency, we have now posted your letter as well.
Hat tip to Martha Rosenberg.