Public Furor Forces NYU to Pull Ransom Note Ad Campaign

Good news but continued vigilance required!

A backlash by outraged parents and advocates for responsible evidence-based rhetoric about physical and mental health issues, forced Dr. Harold Koplewicz, founder and director of the NYU Child Study Center, to pull the irresponsible, fear mongering "ransom note" ad campaign in which threats and intimidation tactics were used to prompt parents to deliver their children to the NYU center. Such tactics befit mobsters rather than doctors.

Dr. Koplewicz, who had enthusiastically endorsed the ad campaign issued an announcement: 
We have decided to conclude this phase of our campaign today"

However, he has not given up on a campaign to corral children into the mental health system. Dr. Koplewicz announces that "early next year we plan the next phase of our national public awareness campaign on child mental health." www.AboutOurKids.org.

Dr. Koplewicz, a publicity seeker and self-promoter [see: putting show biz into your biz] is given to making unsubstantiated bald claims to drum up support. See Link

He told the New York Times, "Children’s mental disorders are truly the last great public health problem that has been left unaddressed. It’s like with AIDS."

And in his announcement today he continues to make unsubstantiated claims:

"When we launched our "Ransom Notes" public awareness campaign two weeks ago, our goal was to call attention to the millions of children with untreated psychiatric and learning disorders. We wanted a campaign that would grab people’s attention, break through the clutter, and serve as a wake up call to what we believe is America’s last silent public health crisis. We felt something dramatic was needed to call attention to the dire outlook for children with untreated disorders: higher risk for academic failure, school dropout, substance abuse, suicide, unemployment, and imprisonment."

First, where is the documented evidence for either the claim about children’s "silent public health crisis" or the evidence substantiating any of the dire predictions with which Dr. Koplewicz continues to alarm parents?

Second, his effort to "grab people’s attention" by frightening parents demonstrated poor judgment and irresponsible provocation–not what one expects from a prominent academic based doctor.

Irresponsible rhetoric such as this has succeeded in establishing the NYU Child Study Center as a Mecca for pathologizing children’s normal behavior for which they are then prescribed an array of toxic psychoactive drugs.

This aborted ad campaign is clearly commercially-driven.

The recommended "treatment" for every so-called children’s behavior disorder is medication with or without behavior therapy. See Disorders and Treatments

It is not the first time that Dr. Koplewicz’ commercially driven actions have raised questions about his professional integrity. As a co-author of the discredited published report about GlaxoSmithKline’s Paxil study 329 he made false claims about the drug’s safety and benefit for children. Indeed, GSK’s own documents provided evidence of fraud in that the negative findings of the study were undisclosed.

This prompted the New York State Attorney General to file a lawsuit. GSK settled the suit, promising to post all of its clinical trial study data on its website. However, neither Dr. Koplewicz nor any of the other co-authors of the fraudulent Paxil study promised to fully disclose in the future clinical trial results.

Paxil and the other SSRI antidepressants now carry black box warning labels about the drugs triggering violent and suicidal behavior.

Even as the fear mongering ad campaign tactics backfired, Dr. Koplewicz continues to interject the specter of violence –"It’s the first time that the issue of children’s mental health has gotten national attention without being precipitated by a shooting at a high school or college," he said.

This, in spite of the raging controversy about the possibility that antidepressants–which were prescribed for most of the school shooters–may have triggered (or contributed) to the violence. See Hannaty’s America With Douglas Kennedy on Antidepressants

The real and present danger threatening the welfare of US children are not made up mental "disorders" such as ADHD, "bipolar child," or "restless leg syndrome,"–for which psychotropic drugs are prescribed. The real danger for children is posed by influential child psychiatrists who exploit children’s vulnerability and parents’ ignorance about the toxic, addictive, potentially lethal effects of psychotropic drugs prescribed for children.

Vera Hassner Sharav

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The New York Times
December 20, 2007
Ransom-Note Ads About Children’s Health Are Canceled
By JOANNE KAUFMAN