Disability system’s other recipient: drug firms

December 19, 2010

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WHILE YOUR three-part series exposed a broken disability system and the difficult choices being made by today’s underclass, it did not mention the biggest welfare recipient of them all — the pharmaceutical corporations. They make hundreds of billions of dollars with government-subsidized Medicaid insurance buying their overprescribed psychiatric medications — drugs that are systematically promoted through sophisticated, but scientifically disputable, public relations campaigns.

Corporations work with the field of biological psychiatry to create huge markets for their medications for ADHD and bipolar and depressive disorders. While these medications are hyped as being a cure for mental disorders, their dangerous side effects and long-term consequences are underreported. Sometimes they can even create or perpetuate the very mental disorders that they are supposed to cure.

Many people need and deserve disability payments. However, it is a sad commentary on this society that, in order to survive in this desperate economy, many poor people feel forced to accept the terrible option of receiving a psychiatric label, taking potentially dangerous psychiatric medications, or accepting the limitations of a lifetime of diability checks. Unfortunately, the Globe series focused more on the poor for taking advantage of a poorly run disability system than on the underlying injustices in America and the real forces fueling the “other welfare’’ system.

Richard D. Lewis
The writer is a licensed mental health counselor in New Bedford.