Rod Keller keeps his eye on Scientology’s front groups, and he’s back this week with CCHR’s latest freakout…
Scientologists received a call to arms this week from the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR). CCHR is a Scientology front group that works to oppose all forms of mental health care, but in particular against psychiatric medicines and electroconvulsive therapy, or ECT. About 100,000 people receive ECT in the US each year to treat severe depression It is effective for 75 to 90 percent of patients who receive it and should be followed up with prescription medicine that helps prevent a relapse.
Scientology has seen Psychiatry and ECT as a social evil since the 1950s when the medical profession rejected Dianetics as a new tool for treating patients. Psychiatrists are demonized by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard as mad scientists, and ECT is seen as a tool to implant false memories rather than treat severe depression.
The National Office needs our help right now to stop a very dangerous bill.
Please read below and act. It is VERY SIMPLE but VERY IMPORTANT. This absolutely does affect all of us!
In a complicated and convoluted maneuver, the U.S. Congress and U.S. Senate are working together to pass through an enormous health bill in the next two days. They have just entered the bill – on a Saturday on a holiday weekend no less!
It is a 996 page bill – which no one has time to read – to include most of the 21st Century Cures Act as well as most of the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act, both of which include very horrible psychiatric legislation.
This bill, referred to as the “revised” 21st Century Cures Act, is expected to go on the “suspension calendar,” which is a calendar that suspends the usual rules that allow for debate and amendment of bills when a bill is so non-controversial, it definitely is going to pass. They just do a quick procedure and pass the bill with no discussion. This is NOT that type of bill at all – it is 996 pages long!
We have to let Congress know that this is NOT OK and that they should NOT rush to pass this legislation now, but should give it the full study it needs to be sure it will not destroy lives.
Members of Congress are there to represent you – let them know you don’t want them to rush into something that could harm people with unintended consequences.
Tell your Congressman and Senators that the 21st Century Cures Act is not a non-controversial bill, which is the intended use of the Suspension Calendar.
It is a complex and sweeping bill with some dangerous provisions along with the positive ones. This 996 page bill should not be rushed to a vote during the lame duck session.
The 21st Century Cures Act is being passed through the US Congress using special procedures, but this shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. It was passed by the House in July, but never received a vote in the Senate. It is a massive $6.3 billion spending bill that overhauls the drug and medical device procedure in the US, and provides funding for the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration. More than 1,400 lobbyists have been trying to influence the final bill, almost three for every member of Congress. More attention has been focused on this bill than any since the Affordable Care Act in 2010.
One of the many aspects of the bill is revising the procedure for approval of drugs and medical devices to reduce costs to manufacturers, and speed approval of new treatments. This is the aspect that has caught the attention of Scientology, and it has focused on a single device, called Libra from manufacturer St. Jude Medical. Labeled “Something Worse Than Shock Therapy” by CCHR, Libra is a Deep Brain Stimulant, or DBS device that uses a pacemaker-like unit in the chest to power wires that deliver a small current to “Brodmann Area 25” of the brain, thought to be associated with depression.
The device has also been used to treat the symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease with much success. Using DBS for depression is considered a promising area of research, but the Libra device has not tested well in trials.
CCHR claims, “The law calls for skipping scientifically sound safety testing of new medical devices in the guise of helping desperate cases, but it would result in harmful and potentially deadly new gadgets being rolled out for use on the general population. If passed and signed into law, ECT shock machines could become as commonly available and used as electric wheelchairs. Ready in the wings if this bill passes into law is an equally destructive medical device and procedure called ‘Deep Brain Stimulation’ (DBS) — touted as the perfect new salvation for ‘treatment-resistant depression.'”
A spokesman for bill sponsor Michigan Congressman Fred Upton (below) called Scientology’s charges “unfounded.”
Large portions of CCHR’s article on Libra are lifted whole from a September 2015 article by Danielle Egan on the web site Mad in America, “Adverse Effects: The Perils of Deep Brain Stimulation for Depression.” In it, she documents the negative experiences of two patients who received the Libra device in 2008 and 2013. She was not surprised to learn that Scientology had plagiarized her article. “They have a CCHR booth in the Vancouver library, and when I went there they had republished portions of my articles on neurosurgery. Once it’s published, you can’t stop people from using it they way they want to.”
Egan has no affiliation with CCHR, but she is a critic of device manufacturers. “We should be concerned about any attempts by device manufacturers to fast-track and approve these treatments without adequate evidence-based research. Clinical trials must provide participating individuals with sufficient informed consent about all the risks, safeguard participants from harm, adhere to the highest ethical, medical, and scientific standards, and publish all of their results in peer-reviewed journals.”
James Cavuoto is the editor of Neurotech Business Report. He said, “Just Libra? Why aren’t they concerned about Boston Scientific and Medtronic?” Both companies are manufacturers of competing DBS systems.
“Libra for depression is basically abandoned. But I am very optimistic that DBS will eventually be helpful for these patients.” Perhaps the answer to Cavuoto’s question is that Scientology’s research is superficial, and its CCHR staff didn’t find an article on other DBS systems to plagiarize.
Back in Washington, the 21st Century Cures Act passed the House on November 30th by a margin of 392 to 26 and awaits action by the Senate. With the bizarre rules of the House, the vote is recorded as “Tsunami Warning, Education, and Research Act of 2015,” but everybody knows the real name. Representatives who have been associated with Scientology or received campaign donations in the past apparently didn’t get the message, and none of them voted against the act. Rep. David Jolly of Florida did not vote. Reps. Loretta Sanchez and Brad Sherman from California, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, and Rep. Danny Davis of Illinois all voted in favor of the act.
If the Senate acts on the bill, it will face opposition from prominent Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, but not because of the possibility that DBS could be approved for depression.
“At a time when Americans pay, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs, this bill provides absolutely no relief for soaring drug prices. The greed of the pharmaceutical industry has no limit, and this bill includes numerous corporate giveaways that will make drug companies even richer. It’s time for Congress to stand up to the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies, not give them more handouts,” said Sen. Sanders.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren spoke in the Senate to oppose the bill as “a giveaway to the gun lobby, cuts Medicare funding, raids the Affordable Care Act, takes health care dollars that should have gone to Puerto Rico and makes it harder for people with disabilities to get Medicaid services, If this bill becomes law there is no question it will contain some real legislative accomplishments, but I cannot vote for this bill. I will fight it because I know the difference between compromise and extortion.”
Scientology is undeterred by the vote in the House, and a new call has gone out for Scientologists to contact their senators to oppose the act and provided the following “talking points,” none of which address the main motivation of opposing approval of DBS, which they see as a new form of ECT.
TALKING POINTS ON WHY THE BILL IS BAD:
1. It would create fast track approval of “high-risk” medical devices and drugs by removing certain regulations, including not requiring randomized clinical trials – which has been the “gold standard” of the FDA up until now. This would include devices such as ECT machines and brain implant devices (ECT machines have never before had official FDA approval due to not getting through clinical trials).
2. The bill would fund $6.3 billion in hand-outs to special interest groups – all at the expense of the taxpayer: YOU.
3. If this bill was so critical, Congress should have ensured that it passed before the election and not be trying to rush a 1,000 page spending bill through in the lame-duck session that no one has read.
4. The bill would increase and sanction state-sponsored, forced, and court-ordered psychiatry.
5. It would also undermine regulations that patient advocacy groups say are essential for making sure medical and drug research is conducted ethically and safely – meaning it could cost lives.
6. Some 1,455 lobbyists on behalf of more than 400 companies and organizations have lobbied on the legislation, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Over the past year and a half, companies who disclosed they lobbied on the Cures Act spent half a billion dollars to influence Congress. The resulting bill is packed with politicians’ pet projects and sops to industry.
7. The Cures Act would severely undermine the FDA by altering its drug and medical device approval process to value speed over accuracy and profits over health and safety.
8. In response to corporate complaints that FDA approvals are costly and time-consuming, the bill would reduce standards, streamline reviews, secure automatic approval for certain devices and drug therapies without rigorous screening, and allow the use of “real world” evidence of drug effectiveness rather than more credible randomized clinical trials. Third parties could certify certain medical devices, avoiding the FDA entirely. Even articles from medical journals could be used as evidence, despite an uptick in retractions in these publications in recent years.
Senators from Florida and California did not return inquiries as to whether or not they support the 21st Century Cures Act. President Obama issued a statement urging the Senate to approve the measure and indicated he will sign it in its present form.
— Rod Keller
Bonus items from our tipsters
Famous bassist Billy Sheehan made the scene at the Hollywood Winter Wonderland show last night, where Scientology continues to celebrate that Jesus was not born on Christmas because he’s just the figment of a galactic overlord’s imagination.
Actual caption: “deniceduff Always an honor for our family to be part of the Police Activities League fundraiser by Celebrity Centre Intl. my husband sang his heart out accompanied by our daughter while Billy Sheehan played his ass off.”
Jim Meskimen and friends also were on hand…
As was the new Scientology celebrity of the moment, Polish god of pop, Kuba Ka…
Meanwhile, in Taiwan…
Chico and the Fam
Thanks to everyone who put the word out about MaxSpaceman’s cat, Chico. He has now found his next family, and the Spaceman can proceed with the countdown on his blastoff.
Go here to start making your plans.
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Our book, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information about the book, and our 2015 book tour, can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.
Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…
BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of L.A. attorney and former church member Vance Woodward
UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists
GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts
Other links: Shelly Miscavige, ten years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer | The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill | Scientology boasts about assistance from Google | The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ
Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield