Wednesday, September 07, 2005

My love/hate relationship with Eli Lilly

According to internal documents, Eli Lilly - the company that developed thimerosal - knew in 1930 that their product could cause damage and even death in humans. And yet, this mercury-based preservative continued to be used in children's vaccines through the late 90's, despite mounting evidence that there could be a connection between mercury in vaccines and a rapid increase in the incidence of autism. Eli Lilly then climbed into the pocket of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, who slipped a rider into the homeland security act of 2002 that shielded Eli Lilly from subpeonas.

Eli Lilly is also the maker of Strattera, the medication that has had the single most positive effect for Bud of all the interventions we've tried so far. After a summer full of trials-and-errors with medication (Ritalin, Adderall, Adderall plus Strattera), we tried 18 mg of Strattera alone. It's been about two weeks and the results have been astonishing. Bud's verbal skills - especially his ability to engage in back-and-forth conversation - have taken a huge leap forward. He is less distracted. He uses less echolalic scripting. He has less sensory overload. His transition to Kindergarten has gone beautifully. And - knock on wood - so far there have not been any negative side effects.

I know for certain it's the Strattera. One day in the past week I picked him up from school, and the teachers looked harried as they handed him off. Bud had his hands over his ears, which I only then realized he hadn't been doing lately. In the car on the way home he was perseverating on a script and I couldn't get him to stop. I tried to figure out what was going on, and it hit me: I had forgotten to give him his medication that morning. (So I had sixty seconds of "I am a horrible mother," immediately followed by the smug satisfaction of having (inadvertantly) run my own blind trial.)

I will admit there is a dark place in the back of my mind that entertains the conspiracy theory that goes like this: Eli Lilly is a for-profit corporation developing drugs used to manage the symptoms of neurological disorders. In a capitalist ecomony, profit is driven by supply and demand. In order to maximize profit for their product, Eli Lilly must strengthen the demand for it. An increase in the incidence of neurological disorders means an increased demand for their product, which means an increased profit. Eli Lilly has another product which could increase the incidence of neurological disorders...

But, really, if I want to continue to get out of bed in the morning and make it through each day, I can entertain the thought, but I can't really go there. For right now, Strattera is having a tremendous effect on Bud, and Eli Lilly will continue to get my money. But my mind, and my heart, remain conflicted.

1 comment:

gwuinifer said...

its so comforting to know that i'm not the only one struggling with this sort of cognitive dissonance regarding my consumer habits as pertaining to my little Francois... *grin*

but conflict aside, i'm so glad to hear he's doing well. thanks so much for taking the time to chronicle your family's journey- it remains an inspiration to me.