manopoly G
map-marker Burlington, Vermont

NAMI - National Alliance for Mentally Ill

I received a call from NAMI asking for tax-deductible donations and they would be picking up from our neighborhood. They said they'd be there on a certain day, pick up, and leave a receipt. I had my boxes outside on my porch for pickup clearly marked NAMI (like they said). They were picked up, but no receipt was left. I decided to contact NAMI to see if they forgot, and no one would answer my phone call or my emails. Originally I thought that someone could have stolen the goods, but if NAMI came by and nothing was there, why didn't they just tell me that instead of ignoring me? I think they are stealing things and reselling them for personal gain. If there wasn't something fishy going on, then why wouldn't they respond to my email or answer the phone? Southaven, MS area.
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In 2004, NAMI opposed the placement of "black box" warnings on antidepressants determined to cause suicide in under-18 year olds, and in 2006 opposed black box warnings on ADHD drugs causing heart attack, stroke and sudden death in children in 2006. Despite overwhelming evidence of serious adverse cardiac events and sudden deaths caused by ADHD drugs, in 2006 NAMI took the position that the “black box” warning on ADHD drugs was “premature.”

When you call things what they are, it’s very clear.

NAMI is essentially sponsored by drug companies and what’s true in television and radio certainly holds true in large organizations — Never go against the sponsors. It is the one golden rule that governs all other rules. That’s fine when you’re selling sneakers and dish soap but we’re talking about actual human lives and wellness.

It takes a lot of nerve to call your organization a patients’ advocacy group when half to two-thirds of your funding comes from companies that are constantly facing class action lawsuits, federal lawsuits or both for not disclosing adverse findings in clinical trials, lying about known health risks, directly causing death and chemical injury and illegally marketing their most powerful and unpredictable drugs off label. NAMI could hardly be more blatant in aligning their methods with the commercial interests of these companies.



NAMI’s pharmaceutical funding was first exposed in the November 1999 Mother Jones article “An influential mental health nonprofit finds its grassroots funded by Pharmaceutical millions,” Internal documents obtained by Mother Jones found 18 drug firms gave NAMI a total of $11.72 million between 1996 and mid-1999. These include Janssen ($2.08 million), Novartis ($1.87 million), Pfizer ($1.3 million), Abbott Laboratories ($1.24 million), Wyeth-Ayerst Pharmaceuticals ($658,000), and Bristol-Myers Squibb ($613,505). And that NAMI’s leading donor was Eli Lilly and Company, maker of Prozac, which gave $2.87 million during that period. In 1999 alone, Lilly will have delivered $1.1 million in quarterly installments, with the lion’s share going to help fund NAMI’s ‘Campaign to End Discrimination’ against the mentally ill.”

• In a 2000 Insight Magazine article, NAMI spokesperson Bob Carolla stated, “Mental illness is a biologically based brain disorder” and deferred to the U.S. Surgeon General’s 1999 Report on Mental Health as evidence of this. Yet the author of the article, Kelly Patricia O’Meara reviewed the entire report looking for this evidence, and found, “The Surgeon General’s report does not provide a single piece of scientific data supporting mental illness as a brain disorder or disease.”

Factually, the Surgeon General’s report admitted there is no medical proof to substantiate NAMI’s claims. The report states, “The diagnoses of mental disorders is often believed to be more difficult than diagnoses of somatic or general medical disorders since there is no definitive lesion, laboratory test or abnormality in brain tissue that can identify the illness.”

Psychiatrist Loren Mosher, former Chief of Schizophrenic Research Studies National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) stated, “The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI) gets the pharmaceutical money and then says they spend it on their ‘antistigma’ campaign. They say that mental illness is a ‘brain disease.’ And it works well for the people who suffer from this to use their drugs. This is why NAMI is pushing for forced medication. It is an amazing selling job on the part of NAMI.”

• December 18, 2003, The New York Times reported that NAMI bused scores of protestors to a hearing in Frankfort, Kentucky, took out full page ads in Kentucky newspapers, and sent angry faxes to state officials, all protesting a state panel proposal to exclude the antipsychotic drug Zyprexa from Medicaid’s list of preferred medications. According to the article, “What the advocacy groups did not say at the time was that the buses, ads and faxes were all paid for” by the manufacturer of the antipsychotic drug Zyprexa, Eli Lilly.

In 2004, NAMI opposed the FDA issuing “black box” warnings on antidepressants about their increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in under 18-year-olds.

In 2006, despite overwhelming evidence of serious adverse cardiac events and sudden deaths caused by ADHD drugs, NAMI took the position that the “black box” warning on ADHD drugs was “premature.”

If NAMI was truly a patient’s rights advocacy group as they purport to be, the question must be asked why they opposed legislation that forwards patients rights.

Take for example the Child Medication Safety Act, a bill that passed the House of Representatives 425-1 in 2003. The bill stated that as a condition of receiving federal funds, states develop policies and procedures that prohibit schools from requiring a child to take psychiatric drugs as a condition of attending school. NAMI reported in their Policy Alerts section of their Beginnings newsletter that summer that they were “not opposed to the intent of the bill.” However, in the same article they stated “given the bill’s stern enforcement provisions—threatening the loss of federal education funds—it’s enactment would inevitably have a chilling effect on schools across the country.” They went on to encourage people contact their Senators to “express concern” about the bill.

Despite NAMI’s efforts, the bill, hailed as a protection for parents rights, was passed in December 2004 as the Prohibition on Mandatory Medication Amendment, a bill many concerned groups had been strongly in support of, after numerous parents came forth stating they had been forced to have their children take psychiatric drugs as a condition of attending school, and even had been charged with medical neglect for failing to comply.

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