Psychiatrist Blasts Financial Conflicts of Interest In His Own Field
Conflicts May be Reaching into Virginia State Medical Office
With increasing exposure of the deeply embedded financial ties between mental health practitioners and the pharmaceutical industry, the latest whistleblower is psychiatrist Daniel J. Carlat who told The Boston Globe yesterday, “Our [psychiatric] field as a whole is progressively being purchased lock, stock, and barrel by the drug companies: this includes the diagnoses, the treatment guidelines, and the national meetings.” Dr. Jerome P. Kassirer, a Tufts University professor and author of “On the Take: How Medicine’s Complicity with Big Business Can Endanger Your Health,” also weighed in on the issue, stating, “psychiatrists are among the most conflicted of the medical specialties.”
These accusations are backed up by a March article in The New York Times, which reviewed financial conflicts of interest among doctors in Minnesota and found that psychiatrists in that state received more drug company money than any other medical specialty—$6.7 million from the pharmaceutical industry between 1997 and 2005. Further, seven out of the last eight Minnesota Psychiatric Society presidents served as consultants to drug manufacturers.
A 2006 study published in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics also determined:
· A majority (56%) of the panel members responsible for revisions to psychiatry’s billing bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), had one or more financial ties to drug companies.
· 100% of the panel members determining “Mood Disorders” and “Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders” (for which antidepressants and antipsychotics are prescribed) had financial ties to pharmaceutical companies.
Commenting on this study, UCLA psychiatry professor, Dr. Irwin Savodnik, stated, “The very vocabulary of psychiatry is now defined at all levels by the pharmaceutical industry.”
The DSM was also criticized because, unlike medicine, there are no physical tests that can prove the existence of any mental disorder referenced in the manual. Co-researcher in the study, Lisa Cosgrove of the University of Massachusetts Boston, stated, “No blood tests exist for the disorders in the DSM. It relies on judgments from practitioners who rely on the manual.” Despite the fact that psychiatric diagnoses are entirely subjective, psychiatrists rely on these to justify the prescription of powerful, mind-altering drugs. Worldwide sales of psychotropic drugs, including stimulants, antipsychotics and antidepressants, now exceed $80 billion annually.
Despite growing evidence documenting many psychiatric drugs—especially antidepressants—to cause mania, hostility, aggression, suicidal thoughts and behaviors, “homicidal ideation” and acts of violence, the Virginia State Medical Examiner’s Office has refused to release the results of Virginia Tech shooter Seung Hui Cho’s autopsy and toxicology results. Reports indicate that he had a prescription for “depression medication” (usually antidepressants). Since the antidepressant Prozac hit the market in 1988, at least 18 school shooters were reported to have been taking a prescribed psychotropic drug that may have triggered their violent actions.
The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), a psychiatric watchdog group, is joined by other concerned groups, doctors and parents who want to see Cho’s toxicology results released in the public interest. The failure to do so begs the question: Have vested interests influenced the decision to keep the results hidden?
The groups are seeking a government investigation into the correlation between acts of violence in schools and psychotropic drugs.