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Stephanie Died From Ritalin

Page history last edited by PBworks 17 years, 2 months ago

Stephanie Died from Ritalin Used for ADHD




If you saw CBS' Hard Copy, June 24, 1998, you saw Stephanie Hall.


You learned that Stephanie, like millions of other children in the US, had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder-ADHD (sometimes referred to as ADD or attention deficit disorder) and was on Ritalin.


You saw a picture of Stephanie a lovely, healthy, normal girl. Next, in what was a brief segment that hardly told her story, you saw Stephanie's gravestone.


Born January 11, 1984. Died January 5, 1996. Her parents, Michael and Janet, were shown at the grave "where (they) visit 'Steph' now."



Her younger sister, Jennie, had ADHD too, and was on Ritalin. But she stopped Ritalin the day 'Steph' died and the whole family stopped believing in ADHD.


Stephanie's Mom Janet, remembers the school days:


In 1st grade Stephanie was a quite shy girl. She had a great love of books, she just loved school… she made new friends easily. Then…it was about the 2nd or 3rd week of 1st grade, her teacher told me, 'Stephanie had a hard time staying on task and that she was making noises.' But she didn't make noises at home. Anyhow the teacher suggested that Stephanie be tested for ADD and that she could be seen by the school psychologist at no cost to us…We took her to another doctor instead. He said she was easily distracted but could read just fine and had normal intelligence...Aside from ear infections as a preschooler Steph was healthy as could be, [but despite all that she was] diagnosed ADD and prescribed Ritalin. It was then that her headaches began…every day, except on weekends, when she didn't take [Ritalin]."


When Stephanie's teacher continued to complain about her behavior, the psychologist suggested "Stephanie needs a behavior modification approach to deal with some residual effects and strong-willed ness," those not taken care of by the Ritalin.


Yet what seemed to be most modified was Stephanie's Ritalin dosage.


So began a series of Ritalin adjustments over the next five years--beginning with 5mg morning and noon--and eventually increasing to 40mg a day.


While her behavior and school performance seemed to improve, some disturbing symptoms also surfaced. Besides the headaches during the school week corresponding with the times she was on medication she also complained of nausea and stomach aches. She displayed mood swings and bizarre behavior. Her neurologist noticed in coordination during his exams.


In the 4th grade Janet recalls:


"Stephanie took off running from the child care center she went to after school. [Daycare workers] chased her but couldn't catch her. She yelled 'I'm 10 ½ now.' She took off across a busy 5-lane road, bought her grandmother a paper and took it all the way downtown where she worked. The day-care workers were screaming at her to come to them. Her DARE officer couldn't believe she acted like that.


They called me at work. I never worked after school hours again."


One day the following summer when Stephanie was off medication she suddenly "zoned out," according to her mother, and seemed "disconnected." Stephanie told her she loved her. They always told each other this, so Janet thought nothing of it. But then Stephanie said it again and she had this empty stare on her face. 


"Steph, what's the matter?," said Janet. "I see her again," said Stephanie. "Who?"  "The angel--she looks mad."


Then Stephanie snapped out of it. She said the angel had white and red all around her. Some of the angels were blue. And they all had 4 wings.


"It reminds me of when she was first put on Ritalin back in the 1st and 2nd grade," said Janet. " and told me of seeing angels then."


Janet recalls the 6th grade beginning with promise:


"Stephanie made friends easily. Her teachers thought she was the greatest. She wanted to be a paramedic and help people. She had a boy she liked. She was doing OK until the day in October when the vice-principal called and said she was swearing--totally out of character. She was always a good girl. I had never heard her swear. Some girl tried to take her lunch money. A few weeks later I caught her swearing at a boy after school let out. I was shocked, I grounded her. Then, her grades started going down…mostly D's."


By the end of the year Stephanie's mother became so concerned that she asked to have her medication increased. The pediatrician agreed to increase the dose to 25mg in the morning and 15mg at noon beginning after Christmas.


"Steph returned to school and took the increase that morning. She seemed real weird, out of it. I kept asking Steph are you OK?'" "She kept saying 'I'm OK Mom,' 'I'm OK.'


But when Janet picked her up after school she seemed OK, not spaced out like she had been in the morning. The rest of the day went smoothly and as Stephanie went to bed, she was obviously in a playful mood.


"She went on upstairs jumping around with her littlest sister, asking for a dollar." Janet said. "'It's 9:00 'Steph,' get to bed,' I said. 'OK Mom, I love you.' 'I love you too,' I said."


The following morning when Stephanie's dad went to wake her for school, she didn't respond. "We called paramedics and the police. Some of them were about to cry. Stephanie was so cold. I kept saying to them 'She is supposed to bury me, not me bury her'… No other family should know the agony of burying their child."


Nothing unusual was found at autopsy. The coroner ruled death by natural causes. Cause of death--cardiac arrhythmia.




Was Stephanie's death a '"natural death" as the coroner concluded? Her parents, didn't think so, and asked me to review the case. True, sudden deaths, even in children, and especially those with a negative autopsy, are likely due to an abnormal heart rhythm—cardiac arrhythmia. To conclude, as the coroner did, that this was a "natural death" means that all known diseases or abnormalities that could possibly contribute to such a death have been ruled out. How often do normal, disease- and drug-free, 12 year olds develop a cardiac arrhythmia and die suddenly? In 1989, the National Center for Health Statistics reported a total of 149 sudden deaths due to unknown causes in the age groups 5-14 years, or 4.2 deaths per million children per year. This is rare.




Stephanie was diagnosed with ADHD in the first grade. Does it kill? Does it cause heart problems? Does it cause inattention, Impulsiveness, Hyperactivity, Failing grades? Is it a real disease as claimed by psychiatry? I submit that not only did ADHD not kill Stephanie Hall, but that ADHD is not even a disease.


A multitude of forces--US psychiatry, child psychiatry, education, Novartis (the manufacturer of Ritalin, formerly Ciba-Geigy) and Children & Adults with Attention Deficit Disorders (CHADD--financed and controlled by Novartis, just as psychiatry is financed and controlled by the pharmaceutical industry)--have conspired to convince people like Stephanie's parents that ADHD is a real brain "disease"—a "chemical imbalance." Further, they tell us ADHD must be treated with Ritalin—to balance the "chemical imbalance." Ritalin is to ADHD as insulin is to diabetes, and as penicillin is to pneumonia, they would have us believe. The not-so-subtle difference is that diabetes and pneumonia are real diseases needing real treatments, while ADHD is an "invention"--a total, complete, fraud! When there is no disease, there is no need for "treatment." Without the "disease" designation, there is no insurance reimbursement. What we have, therefore, are millions of entirely normal children, just like Stephanie Hall, fraudulently diagnosed, then drugged for profit under the guise of "treatment."


Like most psychiatric disorders/diseases, ADHD was never discovered or validated by finding a 'diagnostic,' (confirmatory) physical or chemical abnormality upon physical exam, laboratory test, x-ray, scan or biopsy.


Rather, it was invented at the American Psychiatric Association in 1980 and has been revised, by vote or show of hands, on two occasions since, in 1987 and 1994. The names have changed throughout the years from "hyperactivity," and "hyperactive child syndrome" in the 50's and 60's; minimal brain dysfunction"—"MBD" in the 70's;"attention deficit disorder"—"ADD" in the 80's; to the current conceptualization of ADHD in 1987. No matter the name, each invented "disease" became the object of millions of dollars worth of biologic research, fraudulent on the face of it, because there was never a disease. Not surprisingly, nothing was proven, scientifically or medically, and yet they continue to implant the illusion in the public consciousness of a "disease" needing "treatment" and thus spread a ever-wider marketplace net, victimizing normal children by the millions.


Lest there be any doubt , consider the remarks of James M. Swanson, Ph.D., ADHD researcher and a member of CHADD's Professional Advisory Board, at the March, 5-8, 1998 meeting of the American Society for Adolescent Psychiatry:


"I would like to have an objective diagnosis for the disorder (ADHD). Right now psychiatric diagnosis is completely subjective…We would like to have biological tests--a dream of psychiatry for many years."


In a letter to me dated May 13, 1998, F. Xavier Castellanos, MD, of the National Institute of Mental Health reiterates Swanson's admission:


"…I have noted your critiques of the diagnostic validity of ADHD. I agree that we have not yet met the burden of demonstrating the specific pathophysiology (abnormality) that we believe underlies this condition."


Lawrence Diller, MD, of the University of California, San Francisco, characterizes ADHD research thusly: " The reason why you have been unable to obtain any articles or studies presenting clear and confirming evidence of a physical or chemical abnormality associated with ADHD is that there are none…the search for a biological marker is doomed from the outset because of the contradictions and ambiguities of the diagnostic construct of ADHD as defined by the DSM. I liken efforts to discover a marker (abnormality) to the search for the Holy Grail."




Does ADHD cause confusion, disorientation ("spacey," "out of it, weird"), hallucinations (4-winged, red and blue angels from the 1st grade on) dissociative states, organic psychosis (bolting from day-care, running across a busy highway, not responding normally until she was miles away), Tourette's syndrome (the emergence of wholly-out-of-character swearing), clumsiness, incoordination (denotes generalized or diffuse brain dysfunction) headaches, nausea and vomiting (side effects of Ritalin) in an otherwise normal 12-year old girl? Stephanie had none of these things before "coming down" with ADHD and taking Ritalin. Nor was any abnormality--on physical exam or diagnostic testing--noted in her medical record prior to Ritalin treatment.


We can agree now that none of Stephanie's encephalopathic symptoms (descriptions obtained by history--subjective) or signs


(abnormalities seen and documented by examiners—objective) were due to ADHD.


Her only brain disease, it appears, was Ritalin poisoning--Ritalin "encephalo-pathy" (encephalon—brain, apathy--disease), verified by knowing she had Ritalin in her system, verifiable had any examiner sought to look for Ritalin in the body and body fluids (e.g., urine, blood and cerebro-spinal fluid).




What of Ritalin's toxicity for the heart? Did the coroner consider that Ritalin might have caused Stephanie's sudden death, her cardiac arrhythmia? Did he look at the extensive literature on Ritalin and other drugs in the amphetamine family and their commonplace cardiovascular effect?




The Ritalin manufacturer's insert describes it as a "mild" central nervous system stimulant. It fails to tell you that Ritalin is dangerous and addictive—a drug of abuse, or that it is an "amphetamine." Like other amphetamines (e.g.,Dexedrine), like prescription versions of "meth," methamphetamine (e.g., Desoxyn and Gradumet), like cocaine, morphine and Demerol--Ritalin is classified by the Drug


Enforcement Administration (DEA) and by the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) as a "controlled," Schedule II drug.


The insert also explains that for children 6 years and over—Stephanie's age when she started-- the average dose of Ritalin is 20-30 mg daily with some requiring as much as 40-60 mg daily. The recommended, or target dose, for children, is said to be 0.3-0.6 mg/kg, that for adults 0.1-0.3 mg/kg. Stephanie's dose was almost always in the in the vicinity of 1.0-1.6 mg/kg range—excessive. It was increased the day before she died.


Of 2,993 adverse reaction (AR) reports concerning Ritalin or methylphenidate listed by the FDA's Division of Pharmacovigilance and Epidemiology (DPE), from 1990 to 1997, there were 160 deaths and 569 hospitalizations--36 of them life-threatening.


Ritalin is known to cause cardiac arrhythmia, tachycardia and hypertension. Ritalin and other amphetamines can interfere with the bodies phospholipids (complex fat) chemistry causing the accumulation of abnormal membranes visible with an electron microscope. In 1972, Fisher identified such abnormalities in a heart muscle biopsy from an adult who had been on Ritalin for 4 ½ years.


In 1994, Henderson & Fischer next exposed experimental mice and rats Ritalin, and found identical membrane proliferation to that in the patient described by Fischer in 1972. Moreover, they found that "The MP (Ritalin) doses used in the experimental rodents fell within the range of therapeutic dosage prescribed for patients with attention deficit disorders (ADD/ADHD)."


Even alternative drugs to Ritalin--such as the commonly used tricyclic antidepressants [e.g., Norpramin (desipramine)] cause severe side effects (16 sudden, cardiac deaths liked to tricyclic antidepressants, most of them in normal children said by school teachers to have ADHD).


As of May, 1996, there were 13 cases of liver failure leading to death or liver transplant from Cylert (pemoline), touted to be the "safest," of the stimulants prescribed for ADHD.


Other similar molecules include fenfluramine (Pondimin)—the "fen" of "fen-phen"—the weight reduction compound found to cause heart valve defects, leading to its being withdrawn from the market.


In The Pathology of Drug Abuse, Karch writes: "Amphetamine's adverse effects on the heart are well established …[sharing] common mechanisms with cocaine toxicity…cardiomyopathy seems to be a complication of amphetamine abuse more often than cocaine abuse…The clinical history in most of these cases is consistent with arrhythmic sudden death [as in Stephanie Hall]. Reports of amphetamine related sudden death were first published shortly after amphetamine became commercially available." [late 1930's, about the same time Bradley discovered the paradoxical, calming effect of amphetamines that has lead to today's Ritalin epidemic]




Stephanie's death was called a "natural death," by the coroner. It was not! Although entirely normal, Stephanie was said to have a "disease"—ADHD. She never had a symptom or sign of a real, actual disease until the day Ritalin was begun.


By design, Stephanie and her parents never understood the true risk /benefit equation of "treating" ADHD with Ritalin. As in virtually every case across the nation with ADHD portrayed as a "disease," the informed consent rights of Stephanie and her parents were trampled.


In a perversion of the Hippocratic-medical mission so complete as to be unthinkable, the ADHD "industry" have invented--contrived a "disease" to have something for which to give a drug—all of it for profit.


See the picture of Stephanie—pretty, a young woman in bloom, normal, healthy, bright-with-promise, best reader in her class, loved, embodiment of the hopes and dreams of her parents. From the first day of Ritalin on she was no longer physically normal, subject to the chemical assault on her brain and body in the name of "treatment." Then she was dead…not a "natural death" at all.


Thank God that the outcome isn't this tragic in most cases. Thank God most survive the "disease" and the "treatment." But, it is past time for the parents of the nation to wake up to this unimaginable-unspeakable thing that is being done to 5 million entirely normal, if troubled, children in the US daily.


How many deaths, we will never know, because the reporting system the federal government has in place is entirely voluntary and greatly to the liking of the ADHD "industry" not wanting to be found out, not wanting the public afraid of their products, not wanting them withdrawn from the market.


Who killed Stephanie Hall? Let us name them. Let us subpoena them. Will Stephanie get her day in court? Will any of the millions, deceived and damaged every day?


PS. On page 3, lines 10-13, of the Statement of the National Institutes of Health, Consensus Conference on ADHD, November 16-18, 1998, is a "confession" that ADHD has never been validated as a disease and that children said to have it are, therefore, normal:


… we do not have an independent, valid test for ADHD, and there are no data to indicate that ADHD is due to a brain malfunction.


Call the NIH. The director’s name is Dr. Harold Varmus ( 301-496-4891). You ask him why Stephanie Hall died from treatment for a disease that doesn’t exist—never has. You ask him why an end to the ADHD "epidemic" has not been announced. You ask him why they haven’t told the parents of the 5 million children said to have it, to tear off the "label" (ADHD) and throw the Ritalin in the toilet. I testified a the NIH. I accused them of fraud. They didn’t deny it—they can’t. It appears (1/6/99) that it is business as usual in the multibillion dollar psycho-pharmaceutical, ADHD industry.


Written by: Dr. Fred Baughman and Stephanie's Mom Janet.


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