James Gottstein

James B. "Jim" Gottstein, JD, is an Alaska based lawyer who specializes in business matters and public land law, and is well known as an attorney advocate for people diagnosed with serious mental illness. Gottstein has sought to check the massive growth in psychiatric drugging, particularly of children.

Gottstein is also trying to make alternatives to psychiatric drugs available in Alaska, through organizations he has founded or helped lead, including Soteria-Alaska and CHOICES, Inc.

In 2002, Gottstein co-founded the Law Project for Psychiatric Rights (PsychRights), and currently serves as its president. He is also a member of the board of directors of the International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology (ICSPP).

Education and early career

Gottstein grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, and graduated in 1971 from West Anchorage High School. In 1974, he earned his bachelor of science degree, with honors in finance, from the University of Oregon, in Eugene, Oregon. Gottstein completed his legal studies in 1978, at Harvard Law School. After graduating from Harvard, from 1978 to 1980, Gottstein returned to Alaska, where he launched his legal career at the law firm of Robert M. Goldberg & Associates.

Career

Since 1985, Gottstein has practiced law independently, conducting business as the Law Offices of James B. Gottstein. Between 1986 and 1997, Gottstein represented Alaskans with mental disorders in the Mental Health Trust Land Litigation, which resulted in a settlement valued at approximately $1 billion. State agencies in Alaska had misappropriated funds generated by a one million acre (4,000 km²) land trust, granted specifically for generating funds to operate the state's mental health program.

From 1998 to 2004, he was a member of the Alaska Mental Health Board (AMHB), where he served as committee chair for the program evaluation and budget committees.

In June, 2006, in a case that Gottstein argued before the Alaska Supreme Court, Myers v. Alaska Psychiatric Institute, the court ruled that Alaska's forced drugging procedures were unconstitutional.

PsychRights and consumer advocacy

The Law Project for Psychiatric Rights, aka PsychRights, is a non-profit organization founded by Gottstein to organize a serious, coordinated legal effort against forced psychiatric medication. Its mission is to bring fairness and reason into the administration of legal aspects of the mental health system, particularly unwarranted court ordered psychiatric drugging and electroshock.

In addition to co-founding PsychRights, Gottstein has co-founded several organizations, including:

* The Alaska Mental Health Consumer Web (with Katsumi Kenaston), which provides peer-support and a drop in center for mental health consumers in Anchorage;
* CHOICES, Inc. (Consumers Having Ownership in Creating Effective Services), which provides peer-run, alternative services, especially the right to choose not to take psychiatric drugs;
* Mental Health Consumers of Alaska (with Andrea Schmook and Barbara Greene), for which he served as a board member for ten years;
* Peer Properties, Inc., which is strictly an owner and operator of real estate, provides peer (mental health consumer) run housing for people diagnosed with serious mental illness who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, or living in bad situations; and
* Soteria-Alaska, Inc., where he now serves as president, is dedicated to providing a non-coercive and mainly non-drug alternative to psychiatric hospitalization, under the principles established by the late Dr. Loren Mosher;

Eli Lilly memos

In December 2006, during the course of litigation, Gottstein obtained internal documents of the pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly and Company, dated between 1995 and 2004, which showed that the company was aware that psychiatrists were reporting that many of their patients on the neuroleptic (antipsychotic) drug Zyprexa were developing high blood sugar or diabetes.Pringle, Evelyn. (2007-01-15). [http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL0701/S00161.htm "Attorney Asks Eli Lilly Issue Warning on Zyprexa"] . Scoop Independent News, Scoop.co.nz. Retrieved on 2008-02-22.]

The memos also showed that Lilly had engaged in off-label marketing schemes, including one called "Viva Zyprexa" which encouraged primary care physicians to prescribe Zyprexa for conditions other than those for which the drug had been approved. Berenson, Alex. (2006-12-18). [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?sec=health&res=9E05E2DA1331F93BA25751C1A9609C8B63&n=Top%2fReference%2fTimes%20Topics%2fSubjects%2fA%2fAged "Drug Files Show Maker Promoted Unapproved Use."] "New York Times".] United States federal law prohibits drug manufacturers from marketing prescription drugs for purposes other than those for which they have been approved, though individual medical practitioners have latitude to prescribe drugs to any patient they wish.

Gottstein obtained copies of the Eli Lilly memos from a doctor who had served as an expert witness in prior litgation involving Zyprexa, which had resulted in an out-of-court settlement of nearly $700 million with about 8,000 Zyprexa patients. At that time, Lilly succeeded in keeping the documents out of public view by obtaining protective orders to keep the documents under court seal and by requiring plaintiffs to sign confidentiality agreements in order to obtain out-of-court settlements.

However, upon realizing the magnitude of Lilly's off-label marketing effort, Gottstein took the information to the "New York Times", which published several articles quoting from the documents. Gottstein further wrote to Lilly's attorneys requesting that the company issue a "Dear doctor" letter to "all health care providers in the United States advising them Zyprexa should not be prescribed to anyone who is not already taking it," noting however that the drug should not be withheld from patients who were currently using it because abrupt withdrawal could cause neuroleptic induced discontinuation syndrome. "It is now clear," Gottstein wrote, "that Zyprexa has no benefits over other neuroleptics, while causing far more cases of diabetes than do other drugs in its class.... This represents a massive health disaster including at least thousands of past and inevitable future deaths."

Eli Lilly responded to the articles in the "New York Times" by obtaining injunctions against Gottstein, the expert witness doctor from whom Gottstein had obtained the documents, and various advocacy groups, journalists, authors, doctors, and Internet websites to in order to bar them from further dissemination of information from the documents.

At the time of the disclosures, Zyprexa had become Lilly's top selling drug despite having been approved only to treat adults with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. In 2005, Zyprexa sales amounted to $4.2 billion, thirty percent of the company's total revenues. Lilly denies that links between Zyprexa and diabetes have ever been proven.

ee also

* TeenScreen

Notes

External links

* [http://psychrights.org Law Project for Psychiatric Rights] :* Gottstein, James B. (2006-06-30). [http://psychrights.org/States/Alaska/CaseOne.htm "Alaska Forced Medication Case (Faith Myers v. Alaska Psychiatric Hospital): Alaska Supreme Court Rules Alaska's Forced Drugging Regime Unconstitutional"] . Law Project for Psychiatric Rights.
* [http://choices-ak.org/ CHOICES, Inc.]
* [http://peerproperties.org/ Peer Properties, Inc.]
* [http://soteria-alaska.com/ Soteria-Alaska]
* [http://icspp.org/ International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology]


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