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March 15, 2005 - Image 4

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4 - The Michigan Daily - Tuesday, March 15, 2005

OPINION

Aiw fiitp Th

JASON Z. PESICK
Editor in Chief

SUHAEL MOMIN
SAM SINGER
Editorial Page Editors

ALISON Go
Managing Editor

EDITED AND MANAGED BY STUDENTS AT
THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN SINCE 1890

420 MAYNARD STREET
ANN ARBOR, MI 48109
tothedaily@michigandaily.com

NOTABLE
QUOTABLE
We love large
people."
- Hooters Air President Mark Peter-
son, promoting the airline's policy of
acomadating overweight flyers with a
free extra seat if necessary, as reported
Sunday by the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

ALEXANDER HONKALA THE F}~nI CHUMBCKJH

How Adderall slipped through the cracks
SAM SINGER SAMS C Bi

extroamphet-
amines. The
Reagan-erablock-
busters that revolutionized
modern behavioral therapy
and bridled a generation of
restless children. Pharma-
ceutical companies grossed
billions while Adderall
(along with its psychotro-
pic sisters Dexedrine and Ritalin) was embraced
as the world's first child-friendly amphetamine
- the one federally controlled substance that
could rightfully accompany Flinstone vitamins at
the breakfast table. With age came new prescrip-
tions, with those, higher doses. Attention Deficit
Disorder had become an epidemic of the upper
class, a disease only for those who could afford
a diagnostic test. The drug's popularity soared
alongside its users' grade point averages, and the
market for medicating hyperactivity exploded.
By the time Adderall encountered its first dorm
room, its biochemical signature had already been
left on our generation.
The drug's subsequent collision with contem-
porary college life is too weighty a topic for such
limited space. The list of talking points is exhaus-
tive: How bad is the abuse problem? (A Johns Hop-
kins study estimates the medication can be found
in the blood streams of one-fifth of college stu-
dents nationwide - a figure that doesn't begin to
account for recreational use). Has it been over-pre-
scribed? (Pharmacies in the United States fill close
to a million prescriptions per month). What about
academic integrity? While some call it a miracle
drug, others believe it's some sort of scholarly ste-
roid. Each of these matters has heard its share of
lip-service - I'll keep my distance. I'm just look-
ing for the answer to one question: can Adderall
kill you?
Last month, citing rising incidence of unex-
plained sudden deaths, Health Canada (Canada's
equivalent of the U.S. Food and Drug Admin-
istration) pulled Adderall XR from domestic

pharmaceutical markets. Canadian authorities
had linked twenty mortalities between 1999 and
2003 to the consumption of the central nervous
stimulant, 14 of which occurred in children.
After a preliminary review, the FDA has publicly
contested Health Canada's findings. Adderall-
induced heart failure, our federal scientists have
maintained, is not common enough to warrant
suspension of the drug. Granted at face-value, 20
deaths in four years is considerable, but many of
the medical debate's finer points remain murky.
Exactly how many of the subjects in question
had prior structural or cardiac abnormalities is
unclear. There were, unquestionably, a number
of previously-healthy users (namely children)
whose deaths were directly related to short-term
exposure. Health Canada also blames the drug
for 12 strokes over the same four year period, two
of which proved fatal. Officials have pinpointed
irregular heart rate fluctuations - one of Adder-
all's more notorious side effects - as the source
of the blood clots.
The disputes are dicey, and my yet-to-be-com-
pleted political science degree gives me little
authority to referee. It's in times like this that I like
to defer to the time-honored, tax payer-funded acu-
men of the U.S. Federal Government. Any other
week I'd be hard-pressed to take Canada's word
over the FDA's - the world's acknowledged gold
standard on drug safety matters. Truth be told, had
it been written half a year ago, this column would
have likely been a 400-word pot-shot at our regula-
tion-happy neighbor to the north.
Not today. Six consecutive months of oversight
lapses have left the FDA neck-deep in controversy.
It began last September when the agency released
warnings of heightened suicide risks for children
prescribed to top-shelf antidepressants like Paxil
and Zoloft - results, the media would learn, the
FDA had kept buried for almost a year. After an
early-winter panic over a batch of contaminated
flu vaccines, February brought news that FDA-
approved Vioxx, Merck Inc.'s blue-ribbon painkill-
er, may have contributed to the premature deaths

of more than 30,000 Americans with prior heart
complications. Congressional oversight has since
intensified, and lawmakers have zeroed in on the
agency's clinical review of Adderall and other dex-
troamphetamines.
What would another drug safety scare mean for
the FDA? With hundreds of politically-charged
legislators breathing down its neck and a rapidly
deteriorating public relations crisis, the embattled
agency is in no place to pull Adderall from con-
sumer markets - especially if it would mean bow-
ing out to the Canadian government. If you want
more than circumstantial evidence, get this: Iowa
Sen. Charles Grassley (R) claims agency whistle-
blowers have told him that in a shameless effort to
save face, senior FDA officials asked Health Cana-
da not to suspend sales of Adderall. Coming from
one of the more esteemed members of the U.S.
Senate, that's some pretty powerful hearsay.
Adderall may well be the next life-threaten-
ing drug to have slipped through the bureaucratic
cracks. Still a pharmaceutical tadpole, Adderall's
youth precludes any reliable assessment of its
long-term health impacts. Once graduated from its
test phase, Adderall was simply left to proliferate
- its lasting health hazards left to the FDA's post-
approval review process. Regrettably, understaffed
and scantly funded, the agencies on-the-market
surveillance strategies are frighteningly passive.
Instead of continuing to test drugs while in circula-
tion, regulators are more likely rely on manufactur-
er-supplied clinical reviews and monthly progress
reports.
Whether you can stomach it or not, it's our Uni-
versity's students - the overworked freshman
and the strung out J.D. candidates, the exhausted
history majors and the nocturnal M.B.A.'s - that
make up the control group for the most critical
phase of theFDA's Adderall test trials. The drug
was first floated on the market as a mild stimu-
lant, let's hope it doesn't leave a killer.
Singer can be reached at
singers@umich.edu

LETTER TO THE EDITOR.

Unkmity sholdd stand by
lectw;'us in their demands
To THEDAmx:
I am writing in response to (LEO stages
picket, 02/23/2005) which was in response
to the University's noncompliance with
their labor contract. As a graduate stu-
dent of the School of Social Work and
Social Democrat, I would like to express
my extreme disappointment with the Uni-
versity's failure to comply, as well as my
own school's lack of support for its faculty
who are members of LEO. As the School
of Social Work claims a number-one sta-
tus in terms of reputation and mission and
infuses its curriculum with components of
privilege, oppression, diversity and social
justice, I am shocked that it would not
stand by in support of its faculty mem-
bers in assuring adherence to contract

provisions. It is my opinion that a school
with such local, state, and national pres-
ence could be at the forefront in assist-
ing and protecting its own adjunct faculty
that serve their students in a multitude of
ways as advisors, mentors, field and class
instructors. It seems as though the fac-
ulty is capable of going above and beyond
to enliven and enrich the educational and
field experiences of the student body while
the administration does little to support
or protect them. Furthermore, the school
has done little in creating the necessary
transparency and communication with its
student body in terms of acquiring infor-
mation about the school's involvement or
lack thereof. If the students are investing
in an opportunity to work with and learn
from some the country's finest advocates,
community leaders, and human service
workers, we must also stand united with

faculty to demand that the school admin-
istration and that of the entire university
be supportive and proactive in adhering to
the provisionsof the LEO contract. Stu-
dents of the School of Social Work and
the university at large should recognize
those faculty members who are being
disempowered and fragmented (through
reclassification). It is very hypocritical
of a university, a town and a nation to
stand apathetic to the mission and goals
of unionization and only in theory support
the concepts of autonomy in employment,
and social and economic justice. We must
not tolerate those who choose tactics of
intimidation and manipulation through
back-door firings and layoffs of the very
people who have made this university all
it is and all it can be.
Sarah Richards
School of Social Work

I
I

VIEWPOINT
Maintaining hope

BY SOL ADELSKY
You could call me a typical University student:
I like sports, I'm from the East Coast and as an
incoming freshman, I thought I'd end up in the
Business School. So why then, might you ask, did I
choose to spend my junior winter semester abroad
in Jerusalem, Israel, rather than along the luscious
beaches of Australia, the cobblestone alleys of Italy
or anywhere else for that matter? The choice to go
to Israel was an easy one for me: From my previous
visits to Israel, I had the opportunity to learn that
Israel is a much better, kinder place than some anti-
Israel activists on campus like to point out. I knew
Israel was about more than military operations and
force, and after being here for over two months,
my experience has confirmed the fact that Israel is
indeed an incredible place.
On the one hand, studying abroad here seems
nn d ifferent than other sidv abroad nrograms.

conflict. With Yasser Arafat's death and Mamoud
Abbas's recent election as Palestinian Authority
Chairman, a sliver of hope for peace has resur-
faced. On the other side, Israeli Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon is pushing forward with his plan for
disengagement from Gaza, proving Israel's will-
ingness to adapt to new circumstances and make
difficult sacrifices.
With that said, it discourages me when I read
the Daily online only to learn my fellow students
are actively working against my safety by re-ignit-
ing the divestment debate on campus. The divest-
ment movement unfairly singles out Israel, making
deceitful and misleading accusations, in an effort to
demonize Israel to the campus community.
The Michigan Student Assembly resolution sup-
porting divestment accuses Israel of using collec-
tive punishment, and claims that the Israeli armed
forces have used practices that touch every aspect of
Palestinian lives. Unfortunately, this resolution fails

bomber was thwarted on his way to blow up a
packed bus in French Hill, a neighborhood that
my bus line runs right through. To say this is wor-
risome is an understatement, and to neglect the
mention of terrorism against Israel, civilians on
the part of divestment proponents is simply mis-
leading and wrong.
In the face of continued terrorism, I, for one, am
still hopeful. I firmly believe that the immediate
future could be a watershed in Israeli-Palestinian
relations. However, to think my fellow students and
student government are pushing a resolution that
discourages hope and instills fear and contempt on
campus and around the world, rather than working
on a joint resolution expressing hope and solidarity
with the Palestinian people and Israeli people, says
something sad about the state of affairs on campus,
and sends a gloomy message to the people of the
Middle East. I urge the campus community to prog-
ress from finger pointing and the counterproductive

I ~ Hi IV

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