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After a decade of innumerable 

volunteer commitments, Agyei

Ekundayo fueled her earnest drive

for community wellness education

in 2007 while working as an Infant

Mortality Case Manager at the

Portsmouth Health Department in

Portsmouth, VA. In that role, Agyei

independently managed a pilot

infant mortality reduction program

whose target populations were low

wealth, high risk maternal groups.

There, she counseled mostly young girls about self-care, nutrition, pregnancy complications, premature birth, and repeat pregnancy prevention. Agyei’s primary role centered on networking with community agencies to develop partnerships that would provide a continuum of resources to meet the gamut of basic human needs.

Certified in Midwifery Assistance and Lamaze training, Agyei has served the medical community via service hours at a Christian Guatemalan orphanage. She studied Biology and Clark Atlanta University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Promotion from Weber State University. Past experiences feature a plethora of inclusion companion work for the Town of Chapel Hill, assistant grant writing intern for the South Central Perinatal Council in Lynchburg, VA and as a three time guest speaker for the Durham County Crisis Intervention Team training consumer panel. She also facilitated discussions for the North Carolina Mental Health Consume r s Organization’s 2014 annual conference.

Agyei Ekundayo

She has most recently been at Carrboro’s North Park Church and lectured at North Carolina Central University to a graduate psychology class. Agyei, or “AJ” as she likes to be called, is gifted at assessing audience approach, and thus uses a lively mixture of informative interaction, humor, and visual display to connect with the crowd.

AJ added Mental Health Awareness to her growing list of health disparity concerns when she “plunged full throttle” into the maze of America’s mental health care crisis, upon receiving an initial mental health diagnosis in late 2007. Since then and after 13 or so medications (she says she lost count), 10 different specialists (she says she wishes she could lose count), and 5 diagnoses (the docs cheated at Rock, Paper, Scissors); AJ bet herself good money that she could break the silence of African Americans hiding with mental illness and crusade for more effective legislation. AJ is an impassioned proponent of utilizing creative arts to cope with mental health illness. She recently published a memoir about her experiences growing up with cyclical mental illnesses. 
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Acute pharmaceutical Toxicity killed Brittany Murphy - Could it be killing millions more?

Our hope is that by bringing attention to this issue that consumers will have open dialog with their psychiatrists and ask questions about drug interactions.

The entire pharmaceutical industry is based on the idea that for whatever's wrong with you, there's a patented chemical pill that can make it better. Feeling some anxiety? There's a pill for that. Have high blood pressure? There's a pill for that, too. Suffering from sleepless nights? There's yet another pill for that, too.

Importantly, modern medicine and the pharmaceutical industry both believe there is no limit to how many prescription medications you can simultaneously take. If you have ten health problems, they've got ten different pills for you. And when those pills cause twenty different dangerous side effects, they're ready for twenty more prescriptions for you to dutifully swallow.

This idea that health is achieved by taking prescription chemicals is ludicrous from the start. And yet it's the foundation of the pharmaceutical industry. Take as many pills as you "need", they insist. Don't worry: They're all FDA approved!

One family member stated it this way, “This is akin to believing that if it's safe to drive 65mph in your truck, and it's also safe to drive 65mph on your motorcycle, then if you load your motorcycle onto your truck, it's now safe to drive 130mph.”

The fatal flaw in the theory behind pharmaceuticals

As you already guessed, there's a fatal flaw in this pharmaceutical approach to sick care: Pharmaceuticals have never been tested in combination with other drugs. So all the so-called "gold standard science" is absolutely worthless at knowing what might happen when half a dozen pharmaceutical drugs are combined in a patient's body. Brittany Murphy may have been on as many as TEN drugs!

Despite the fact that no combination testing has ever been done on pharmaceuticals, they are regularly prescribed in combination. Obviously, this creates a whole new realm of unknown risk based on the way multiple drugs might chemically interact in the human body.

The more pharmaceuticals you take, the more dangerous they become. While one pharmaceutical chemical may at first seem harmless (even though just one
drug can actually kill you), when you start adding a second, third, fourth and fifth prescription on top of that, you're dealing with Acute Pharmaceutical Toxicity (APT) that's never even been tested in clinical trials.

Pharmacists are trained to help people avoid the most toxic two-drug combinations, but they rarely have any real knowledge about what happens when you combine three, four, five or more drugs. No one does. The science has simply never been done on that question. It's no wonder: With all the possible combinations and permutations of pharmaceutical
toxicity, it would take literally trillions of clinical trials to test them all.

So this whole idea that you can take a drug to treat one problem, then take a second drug to treat a second problem, and a third to treat a third problem... this entire approach to health care, upon which modern medicine is largely based, is flawed from the start. In clinical trials, patients are tested for one drug at a time. Never five or six (or ten).

So all the clinical trials that have ever been conducted by the pharmaceutical industry need to be thrown out the window for patients who take more than one drug. And that's just about everybody! Ask any senior citizen which prescription drugs they take, and most of them (the ones who can still remember, anyway) will rattle off a shockingly long list of toxic chemicals that have never been tested in combination. Just because one drug in isolation seems "safe" in one trial in no way means it's going to be safe when combined with half a dozen other toxic chemicals taken by the patient at the same time.

The list of drugs taken by Brittany Murphy boggles the mind

According to information leaked to the press, Brittany Murphy was found near prescription medications of all the following drugs:

• Topamax (an anti-seizure medication)
• Methylprednisolone (anti-inflammatory drug)
• Fluoxetine (antidepressant)
• Klonopin (anxiety medication)
• Carbamazepine (bipolar medication)
• Ativan (anxiety medication)
• Vicoprofen (pain reliever)
• Propranolol (hypertension drug)
• Biaxin (an antibiotic)
• Hydrocodone (pain medication)

That's a whopping ten medications that Brittany Murphy may have been swallowing all at once.

Now, you can search PubMed, the National Library of Medicine and the archives of the FDA, and you will never find a single clinical trial testing these ten drugs in combination. It's never been done (and never will be). The untimely death of Brittany Murphy and others has brought attention to this issue and has pushed the pharmaceutical companies to start keeping better records of drug interactions, and what happens when their various drugs are combined in the same patient at the same time.

The result was certainly disastrous for. Her FDA-approved, doctor-prescribed, pharmaceutical companies promoted combination of toxic drugs appears to have cost her her life.

How many other patients are dying from Acute Pharmaceutical Toxicity? (APT)

Brittany Murphy isn't the only mental health consumer who has been killed by acute pharmaceutical toxicity. There have been many more. No one actually knows the numbers of death involved because the data is not collected in a way organized enough to be useful. One might say, “no one keeps track!”

Some say the FDA simply doesn't want to know. The reporting drug side effects and deaths to the FDA have remained entirely voluntary. There is little effort to look into the acute pharmaceutical toxicity issue from Psychiatrists Doctors or the pharmaceutical industry either. They feel it’s not in their best interests for anyone looking too closely at this problem. Thanks to advocacy around this concern Coroners, for their part, have developed better autopsy protocols but many rarely ask about pharmaceuticals as a possible cause of death. Typically, they just blame the death on whatever organ failed, "heart attack" liver failure, kidney failure for examples:, even when the heart attack may have been brought on by toxic pharmaceuticals typically the autopsy reads accidental overdose casting aspersions on the consumer that it was somehow their fault. .

If you could take a moment and imagine if police detectives worked the same way;. investigating a crime scene where someone was thrown from a ten-story window and plunged to their death on the street below, imagine if the detective reported the cause of death as being, "Hitting the ground." Unhappy bereaved have complained that, “That's the way coroners work with the cause of death in patients killed by pharmaceuticals. They routinely ignore the real cause -- the chemical cause -- and just name whatever organ happened to fail first. "Liver failure" is a popular one. Awareness of this issue will increasingly demand to know, what caused the liver to fail in the first place? In more and more cases the cause has had something to do with acute pharmaceutical toxicity.”



A Call for Caution on Antipsychotic Drugs as in the New York Times


Published: September 24, 2012

You will never guess what the fifth and sixth best-selling prescription drugs are in the United States, so I’ll just tell you: Abilify and Seroquel, two powerful antipsychotics. In 2011 alone, they and other antipsychotic drugs were prescribed to 3.1 million Americans at a cost of $18.2 billion, a 13 percent increase over the previous year, according to the market research firm IMS Health.

Tim Robinson

Those drugs are used to treat such serious psychiatric disorders as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and severe major depression. But the rates of these disorders have been stable in the adult population for years. So how did these and other antipsychotics get to be so popular?

Antipsychotic drugs have been around for a long time, but until recently they were not widely used. Thorazine, the first real antipsychotic, was synthesized in the 1950s; not just sedating, it also targeted the core symptoms of schizophrenia, like hallucinations and delusions. Later, it was discovered that antipsychotic drugs also had powerful mood-stabilizing effects, so they were used to treat bipolar disorder, too.

Then, starting in 1993, came the so-called atypical antipsychotic drugs like Risperdal, Zyprexa, Seroquel, Geodon and Abilify. Today there are 10 of these drugs on the market, and they have generally fewer neurological side effects than the first-generation drugs.

Originally experts believed the new drugs were more effective than the older antipsychotics against such symptoms of schizophrenia as apathy, social withdrawal and cognitive deficits. But several recent large randomized studies, like the landmark Catie trial, failed to show that the new antipsychotics were any more effective or better tolerated than the older drugs.

This news was surprising to many psychiatrists — and obviously very disappointing to the drug companies.

It was also soon discovered that the second-generation antipsychotic drugs had serious side effects of their own, namely a risk of increased blood sugar, elevated lipids and cholesterol, and weight gain. They can also cause a potentially irreversible movement disorder called tardive dyskinesia, though the risk is thought to be significantly lower than with the older antipsychotic drugs.

Nonetheless, there has been a vast expansion in the use of these second-generation antipsychotic drugs in patients of all ages, particularly young people. Until recently, these drugs were used to treat a few serious psychiatric disorders. But now, unbelievably, these powerful medications are prescribed for conditions as varied as very mild mood disorders, everyday anxiety, insomnia and even mild emotional discomfort.

The number of annual prescriptions for atypical antipsychotics rose to 54 million in 2011 from 28 million in 2001, an 93 percent increase, according to IMS Health. One study found that the use of these drugs for indications without federal approval more than doubled from 1995 to 2008.

The original target population for these drugs, patients with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, is actually quite small: The lifetime prevalence of schizophrenia is 1 percent, and that of bipolar disorder is around 1.5 percent. Drug companies have had a powerful economic incentive to explore other psychiatric uses and target populations for the newer antipsychotic drugs.

The companies initiated dozens of clinical trials to test these drugs against depression and, more recently, anxiety disorders. Starting in 2003, the makers of several second-generation antipsychotics (also known as atypical neuroleptics) have received F.D.A. approval for the use of these drugs in combination with antidepressants to treat severe depression, which they trumpeted in aggressive direct-to-consumer advertising campaigns.

The combined spending on print and digital media advertising for these new antipsychotic drugs increased to $2.4 billion in 2010, up from $1.3 billion in 2007, according to Kantar Media. Between 2007 and 2011, more than 98 percent of all advertising on atypical antipsychotics was spent on just two drugs: Abilify and Seroquel, the current best sellers.

There is little in these alluring advertisements to indicate that these are not simple antidepressants but powerful antipsychotics. A depressed female cartoon character says that before she starting taking Abilify, she was taking an antidepressant but still feeling down. Then, she says, her doctor suggested adding Abilify to her antidepressant, and, voilà, the gloom lifted.

The ad omits critical facts about depression that consumers would surely want to know. If a patient has not gotten better on an antidepressant, for instance, just taking it for a longer time or taking a higher dose could be very effective. There is also very strong evidence that adding a second antidepressant from a different chemical class is an effective and cheaper strategy — without having to resort to antipsychotic medication.

A more recent and worrisome trend is the use of atypical antipsychotic drugs — many of which are acutely sedating and calming — to treat various forms of anxiety, like generalized anxiety disorder and even situational anxiety. A study last year found that 21.3 percent of visits to a psychiatrist for treatment of an anxiety disorder in 2007 resulted in a prescription for an antipsychotic, up from 10.6 percent in 1996. This is a disturbing finding in light of the fact that the data for the safety and efficacy of antipsychotic drugs in treating anxiety disorders is weak, to say nothing of the mountain of evidence that generalized anxiety disorder can be effectively treated with safer — and cheaper — drugs like S.S.R.I. antidepressants.

There are a small number of controlled clinical trials of antipsychotic drugs in generalized anxiety or social anxiety that have shown either no effect or inconsistent results. As a consequence, there is no F.D.A.-approved use of an atypical antipsychotic for any anxiety disorder.

Yet I and many of my colleagues have seen dozens of patients with nothing more than everyday anxiety or insomnia who were given prescriptions for antipsychotic medications. Few of these patients were aware of the potential long-term risks of these drugs.

The increasing use of atypical antipsychotics by physicians to treat anxiety suggests that doctors view these medications as safer alternatives to the potentially habit-forming anti-anxiety benzodiazepines like Valium and Klonopin. And since antipsychotics have rapid effects, clinicians may prefer them to first-line treatments like S.S.R.I. antidepressants, which can take several weeks to work.

Of course, physicians frequently use medications off label, and there is sometimes solid empirical evidence to support this practice. But presently there is little evidence that atypical antipsychotic drugs are effective outside of a small number of serious psychiatric disorders, namely schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and treatment-resistant depression.

Let’s be clear: The new atypical antipsychotic drugs are effective and safe. But even if these drugs prove effective for a variety of new psychiatric illnesses, there is still good reason for caution. Because they have potentially serious adverse effects, atypical antipsychotic drugs should be used when currently available treatments — with typically fewer side effects and lower costs — have failed.

Atypical antipsychotics can be lifesaving for people who have schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or severe depression. But patients should think twice — and then some — before using these drugs to deal with the low-grade unhappiness, anxiety and insomnia that comes with modern life.

Dr. Richard A. Friedman is a professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College in Manhattan.


We are all in this together; we are successful if one of us is successful. I urge you to buy a copy of Ben's Book - Marc Jacques
Minority of Mind

Ben Boone is the author of Minority of Mind. In this book he shares how was diagnosed with schizophrenia the day after he graduated with a degree in writing and publishing from Emerson College in Boston.

It details a young man’s descent into darkness, and his daily struggles to perform as a person, rather than a manifestation of his illness. It addresses how society treats those with serious psychiatric disorders and challenges our definition of “madness.”


Follow the link to buy Ben's Book