Clinician's Digest

Clinician's Digest

September/October 2008

In recent years, increasing evidence has accumulated about the pervasive impact of the millions of dollars flowing from pharmaceutical companies into the pockets of psychiatrists working on research, diagnosis, and treatment in the mental health field. This funding includes everything from the financial support for the presumably impartial clinical trials demonstrating the efficacy of new psychiatric medications to the huge consulting fees paid to noted figures in the field for speaking and writing about treatments that have the potential to generate enormous economic windfalls for the pharmaceutical corporations providing the funds.

This money flow has serious implications for the objectivity of drug-trial research. A metanalysis of 301 drug-trial studies in peer-reviewed psychiatric journals, published in the November 2006 Psychological Medicine, found that studies funded by pharmaceutical companies showed positive results for drugs 78 percent of the time, whereas trials without pharmaceutical company funding found favorable results only 48 percent of the time.

In May, an ongoing Senate investigation revealed yet other troubling details regarding the connection between pharmaceutical money and leading psychiatric advocates for the drug treatment of children. The Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), found that noted Harvard psychiatrist Joseph Biederman, who's been extremely influential in popularizing the diagnosis…

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