Sunday, 15 June 2008

Future of our Future

Children are bundles of joy. For the last few days I have spent most of my time with my niece and nephew who are visiting. Every moment has been more precious than the previous. Even when I sense remote harm coming their way, my senses are on full alert. I am certain that I will do everything in my power to keep them out of danger’s way. That is why when I come across articles discussing emotional, medical and physical abuse that children are put through world over, I get goose bumps. What security are we providing for our little angels? How are we abusing their innocence in the name of capitalism? Are we really that low to ruin an entire human life, at a tender age, for our own perverse pleasure?

It might seem that these are the issues for a non-governmental organization to take up and fight for. However, after reading about how even reputed names like Harvard, Johnson & Johnson and Eli Lilly are involved in exploiting our future, I think it boils to down each one of us to remain more vigilant.

Apparently major pharmaceutical companies have been conducting research on “attention deficit disorder” in children. This is the early stage beginning of bipolar disorder in adults according to some scientists. If found thus disabled, a child is subjected to psychiatric medication which in lay man’s terms (as was explained to me by a researcher friend) is on the lines of anti depressants, sedatives and Prozac. Harvard has been conducting research in schools and hospitals without proper disclosures. The university prohibits researchers for working on a particular product of the company if they receive more than USD 20,000 annually from a company. It seems that Harvard researchers working on this particular treatment for children with Eli Lilly, received USD 120,000 or six times the prescribed limit. Question is why would Harvard go ahead without proper disclosures? What can be the motive? Is there anything in this project to hide?

What I cannot understand is that why on earth would we want to subject 4 – 6 year olds or even 8 – 10 year olds to medication which can potentially interfere with their nervous system and be addictive! An A grade student and a successful professional, I have a very short concentration span. Ask my INSEAD colleagues and they will vouch for it – they even nicknamed me “two sugars please” due to my regular coffee sojourns in every second lecture. So how can we demonstrate with “very reasonable conviction” that a child has attention deficit disorder?

In today’s world, we would like to regulate every aspect of life that is capable of being regulated. In the western world, parents do not even have the right to use strict measures to discipline their children as they could be reported for child abuse and imprisoned. Yes in some cases this saves children but in other cases it just means spare he rod and spoil the child. US senate is seemingly looking to pass a legislation to regulate the disclosures performed by physicians of the fee charged for speaking to, consulting and doing research on child related psychiatric issues. Will that really help? Can regulation be the answer to all issues? Can the legal system really provide our children with productive and fulfilling lives?

Children have high energy levels and are restless. They need an environment to channelise this energy in the right direction. Let us send them to parks, encourage them to play, nurture their talents and keep them away from the like of television. Medication at that tender age is no solution. At least not in my opinion and with their future in our hands, the choice is ours.

1 comment:

Manohar said...

Hi Tanushree,
Read your article with interest, as it is to do some thing with my field, Pharmaceuticals.Any company which wishes to conduct clinical trials, have to first establish the safety in other mammals or in other words, in lab conditions. Then after obtaining the necessary licenses to conduct the clinical trials, they have to proceed with caution subject to many restrictions. Every trial they conduct has to be on volunteers with their complete knowledge and consent.
However, many times the pharmaceutical companies have crossed the line in the past and paid dearly for that. But ultimately they have played with the human life. This licentiousness in the name of research still continues.The so called animal activists, who raise hue and cry over usage of animals for lab trails are mysteriously silent on this issue. All you hear is some whimpers from some corner of the world.
The attention deficit syndrome is not a big issue as you said. It is common with everyone to some extent.
Anyways liked your write up and also thanks for your Email. So, you are from INSEAD.Reading more about this of late as my son is working so hard to get into it.
Keep Posting!