From Alternet, a clip from an excerpt of this book:
Prices of ADHD meds at the middle dose for ninety pills on Drugstore.com in 2011 were Concerta, $540; Vyvanse, $532; Intuniv, $500; Adderall, $278; and Ritalin, $191. The price of the most common antidepressants, like Prozac, Celexa, Lexapro, Zoloft, Cymbalta, and Wellbutrin, for ninety pills, was around $380. Two of the drugs prescribed to Rebecca Riley by Dr. Kifuji happen to be quite pricey. Drugstore.com rates in 2011 for 180 500 mg tablets of Seroquel were $1,048 and for Depakote, $708.
Among drug reps, it is common knowledge that kids are a lucrative market. At the urging of doctors, parents, and teachers, kids are required to buck up and take their meds. In the words of Gwen Olsen, who worked for fifteen years as a drug rep with such pharmaceuticalindustry mainstays as Johnson & Johnson and Bristol-Myers Squibb: “Children are known to be compliant patients and that makes them a highly desirable market for drugs, especially when it pertains to largeprofit-margin psychiatric drugs, which can be wrought with noncompliance because of their horrendous side-effect profiles.” Most large-profit-margin psychiatric drugs are approved by the FDA strictly for use with adults, not kids. However, doctors are allowed to use their discretion and prescribe them to kids for “offlabel” purposes. Doctors can use their medical instincts to determine whether a drug approved for adults might also ease the suffering of kids. But there is no scientific backing for such use. The studies haven’t been conducted. The FDA approval hasn’t been obtained. Off-label prescribing relies on doctors’ instincts alone. While drug manufacturers and their marketing staff are bound by law not to influence doctors’ off-label prescribing habits, it’s not the law that’s foremost on the minds of drug reps fanning out to doctors’ offices all over the country.
It’s upping sales. The right to use adult meds with kids for off-label purposes has left many physicians easy prey to drug reps and pharmaceutical companies’ marketing ploys. A glaring example of this was uncovered in the largest health-care fraud case ever handled by the US Department of Justice, in 2009. Pfizer agreed to a $2.3 billion settlement for promoting off-label use of a variety of drugs, one of which was the antipsychotic medication Geodon. One of Pfizer’s illegal actions was paying 250 child psychiatrists to promote its off-label use with teens. Dr. Neil Kaye, for example, was paid $4,000 a day in speaker’s fees to give speeches to other physicians with titles like, “the off-label use of Geodon in Adolescents.” Geodon happens to be a highly expensive and highly profitable drug. At Drugstore.com in 2011, it cost $1,400 for 180 40 mg capsules. It currently nets Pfizer $1 billion a year.