In 2009, Dr. Joseph Biederman, a leading Harvard child psychiatrist, told drug maker Johnson & Johnson that predetermined studies of its medicines for children would generate profitable results for the company. Dr. Biederman laid out the plans for testing Johnson & Johnson’s drugs in a slideshow presentation for company executives. One slide referred to a proposed trial in preschool children of risperidone, an antipsychotic drug made by the drug company. The study, the slide stated, “will support the safety and effectiveness of risperidone in this age group.”

An inquiry by Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa revealed in 2008 that Dr. Biederman earned at least $1.6 million in consulting fees from drug makers from 2000 to 2007, but failed to report all but about $200,000 of this income to university officials. Josephine Johnston, a research scholar at the Hastings Center, a bioethics research institute, said the documents “raise questions about how well-designed Dr. Biederman’s trials were in that he promised a result to his funders.”

Biederman was director of the Johnson & Johnson Center for Pediatric Psychopathology Research at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He is the world’s most prominent advocate of diagnosing bipolar disorder in very young children and of using antipsychotic medicines to treat the condition, but much of his work has been underwritten by drug makers for whom he privately consults. He was ranked the second highest producer of high-impact papers in psychiatry in the world with 235 papers cited a total of 7,048 times over the past 10 years, as determined by the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI).

In 2006, Dr. Biederman was co-author of a study showing that children given Concerta for a prolonged period did not experience reduced growth, allaying a significant concern about the medicine. The journal Pediatrics published a federally-funded study, the largest yet, investigating the long-term health impact of stimulants on children. The study, funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health and known as the MTA Follow Up Study, found that consistent use of the stimulants stunts growth in children at a rate of about one inch every two years. Concerta is a stimulant. The FDA requires a Black Box warning on Concerta, stating that the drug can cause numerous severe side effects.

Biederman was the lead author of a trial published in 2008 concluding that treatment with risperidone improved symptoms of attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder in bipolar children. Dr. Alex Thomson, lead author of a review published in the Cochrane Library in 2009, said “Doctors should be aware that there is no research to demonstrate the effectiveness of risperidone for ADHD in people with intellectual disability, and should carefully monitor each case and consider alternative treatments before trying risperidone.” Additional research has demonstrated that the long-term use of this drug has a direct correlation to serious side effects such as weight gain and an increased risk for type 2 diabetes, and the FDA requires a Black Box warning on the packaging.

Dr. Biederman has become a key defense witness for the drug companies in a series of lawsuits filed by State Attorneys General of Illinois and New Jersey charging that makers of antipsychotic drugs, including AstraZeneca, maker of Seroquel, defrauded state Medicaid programs by improperly marketing their medicines.

Biederman has championed his conviction that bipolar disorder can start from the moment the child opens his eyes at birth. Psychiatrists previously regarded bipolar disorder as a disease that begins in young adulthood, but now thousands diagnose it in children, some scarcely out of diapers, treating them with powerful antipsychotic medications based on Biederman's work, including children like Rebecca Riley, who died at age four after being prescribed Seroquel and a cocktail of three other drugs for her bipolar disorder, starting at age two.

Brady Case and Anthony Russo, researchers at New York University, reported that the number of children under 18 who had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder increased fourfold between 1999 and 2000. Another report shows a 600 percent increase in children under the age of 13 diagnosed with bipolar disorder from 1999 to 2009, which corresponds to the time-frame of the relationship between Dr. Biederman and leading drug manufacturers. These increases can also correspond to the fact that Dr. Biederman's studies have been cited more than 7,000 times, and countless others have based research on these findings, creating an “inverse pyramid” of fraudulent information regarding the use of powerful psychiatric drugs on infants and children.

“We need to treat these children. They are in a desperate state,” Biederman said in an interview, producing a video clip of a tearful mother describing the way her preschool daughter assaulted her before the child began treatment for bipolar disorder. He compares his work to scientific breakthroughs of the past such as the first vaccinations against disease.

Many of these drugs, including Seroquel, Concerta, and Risperdal, have been shown to have increased suicide risks in children and adolescents. This is obviously a very dangerous situation for infants and children allegedly suffering from psychological disorders. “What is of real concern regarding the well-being of children, their parents, and society is that this psychiatric fraud has been promoted as 'scientifically' and 'evidence' based.” says Rick Malter, Ph.D. of the National Health Federation. “In my view, 'child bipolar disorder' is essentially a drug-marketing scheme that has no scientific or clinical foundation.” Childhood Bipolar Disorder: Is it a Psychiatric Fraud? That's the major question going through the minds of highly respected psychiatrists around the world.

You are entitled to Informed Consent, under the Patient's Bill of Rights, a bill first adopted by the American Hospital Association in 1973. The bill states that you have the right to considerate and respectful care, and you are encouraged to obtain from physicians and other direct caregivers relevant, current, and understandable information concerning diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis. If a doctor diagnoses your child with bipolar disorder and recommends medication, get a second opinion, and be sure to check for potential side effects of the drug. A list of all medications labeled with a Black Box warning, the most serious type of warning a prescription drug can have, can be found at Be happy, be healthy, and take care of yourself and your family.

Author's Bio: 

Michael Locklear is a researcher and consultant with 30 years experience, studying health, nutrition, and human behavior. He has been president of the Global Peace Project since 1986, and he administrates the website as part of the Global Peace Project Educational Outreach Program. You can also find him on The Total Health Blog.