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Veteran Suicide Rate/National Adverse Drug Event Awareness Day March 24th/The Vet Voice Interview

One of the biggest issues being discussed and addressed is Veteran Suicide, yet despite bill after bill being introduced and passed and money being poured into such an important issue, the veteran suicide rate may actually be going up. A recent study from Florida State University studied the relationship between prescriptions and suicide and other studies have shown that the suicide rate is 2.5 times higher while taking anti-depressants. Pharmaceuticals and biologics have known and unknown interactions between drugs and sometimes the effects are worse than what the drug was supposed to do. FDA hearing on drug interactions are coming up with the National Adverse Drug Event Awareness Day being March 24th for the Society of Pharmacovigilance. The Right Dose Now Act is a bill that aims to improve the safety and efficacy of medications by promoting the use of pharmacogenetics testing in the dosing process. There has actually been a 682 percent increase in the number of psychoactive drugs - antipsychotics, sedatives, stimulants. and mood stabilizers prescribed to our troops between 2005 and 2011. Sometimes an individual takes 10, 20, or 30 pills and the black box description will say whether the drug can create depression or suicidal thoughts and/or tendencies.

One way to remediate this issue that may be sponsored soon is the Signatory Informed Consent Act. It is mandated by the veteran health handbook that veterans have informed consent on medications but they are not. This is a simple bill that has them sign a form before they take a subscription so they are aware of side effects, etc. of prescriptions. (This bill was written by Dianne Zumatto and pushed by Veterans Strategic Solutions President and C.E.O. John Spagnola). There was a hearing years ago, the VSO’s are in support with no pushback, but the VA pushed back saying doctors don’t have the time to implement it and the psychiatric/psychological association was against it (they felt like they were advocating for no drugs), so it’s been modified over the years (having worked with Alaskan US Senator Dan Sullivan). The issue is if you get an order from a Superior you are going to follow it, so you need to be informed. This informed consent only refers to black box medications which consists of about 700. If you want to help with the introduction of this simple yet possible life saving bill, please contact your federal legislator to see if they will consider sponsoring it!

I am so thankful to Stan Fitgerald, the Vet Voice, for taking time to interview me on March 23th! I'm traveling so much that I had to use a cooking pot with a coffee basket as a makeshift tripod in my hotel room! I said someday we can laugh about that! Check out my interview here!


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