On Slate Star Codex, psychiatrist Scott Alexander asserts that the now widely discredited notion that depression is caused by a serotonin deficiency "was never taken seriously by mainstream psychiatry" and was never promoted by psychiatrists or pharmaceutical companies. He further suggests that no one at Mad in America has evidence that they did promote it. More →
In BMJ, Yale University law lecturer Gregg Gonsalves and Diana Zuckerman of the National Center for Health Research argue that the US government has been "chipping away" at the FDA's powers in order to speed up drug approvals, and the latest proposed bill could roll back patient safeguards by half a century. More →
For decades the gold standard for medical evidence was the review article – an essay looking at most or (hopefully) all of the research on a particular question and trying to divine a general trend in the data toward some conclusion (“therapy X seems to be good for condition Y,” for example). More recently, the format of review articles has shifted – at least where the questions addressed have leant themselves to the new style. The idea has been to look at the original data for all of the studies available, and in effect reanalyze them as though the research participants were all taking part in one gigantic study. By increasing the number of data points and averaging across the vagaries of different studies, a clearer finding might emerge. The meta-analysis has gone on to be revered as a strategy for advancing healthcare. It has vulnerabilities.
On WSJ Pharmalot, Ed Silverman gets experts to comment on the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca's latest way of attempting to comply with growing public pressure to disclose data from drug trials for independent researchers to review. More →
"Ninety-nine percent of people or organizations that commented on a government proposal to allow the drug industry to misinform doctors about potential risks of medications oppose the plan," states a Public Citizen press statement, released after the organization analyzed the public comments. More →
In the name of national security, governments are increasingly playing central roles in the "pharmaceuticalization" of society, according to a paper in Social Science and Medicine. More →
The more advanced and expansive a country's system of medical care is, the sicker people feel, according to a study in Social Science Research. And much of that effect, argued the author, seems to be directly related to psychiatry. More →
In the wake of a second critical report this month about its psychiatry department's ethical practices and conflicts of interest, the University of Minnesota has temporarily suspended enrollment in its psychiatric drug trials, according to MinnPost. More →
Recently the problem of publication bias has been shaking the foundations of much of psychology and medicine. In the field of pharmacology, the problem is worse, because the majority of outcome trials (on which medication approval and physician information is based) are conducted by pharmaceutical firms that stand to benefit enormously from positive results, and run the risk of enormous financial loss from negative ones. Numerous studies have found that positive results tend to be published, while negative ones are quietly tucked under the rug.
The majority of clinical trials are still not reporting their results to the US government's ClinicalTrials.gov website, despite legal requirements that they do so, according to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine. More →
The latest investigative report into the University of Minnesota's psychiatric research practices was "scathing," reported Forbes in a two-part story. Journalist Judy Stone also wrote that she was "suprised" by the strength of the criticisms, in light of the fact that the report from the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs was actually "bought and paid for" by the university itself. More →
Quartz has posted a list of the prescription drugs that generated the most in global sales dollars in 2014, according to a study by Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology News. The antipsychotic Abilify was number twelve at $5.7 billion. More →
In February, Congressman Tim Murphy (R-PA) was a keynote speaker at a public event about "Fixing America's Mental Health Care System" that was sponsored by the pharmaceutical companies Lundbeck and Takeda. Now, data on OpenSecrets.org show that pharmaceutical companies and psychiatric hospitals are in fact among the main funders of Murphy, who for several years has been strongly promoting his bill the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act. And it appears that those same pharmaceutical companies and psychiatric hospitals are likely to substantially benefit financially if Murphy's bill becomes law, according to an analysis of the bill. More →
In AlterNet, MIA News Editor Rob Wipond examines the sources of statistics like "1 in 5 Americans are mentally ill" and "90% of people who commit suicide have a mental illness." Are these broad epidemiological statistics scientific in origin, or are they merely politically motivated propaganda? More →
York University and University of Toronto health policy analyst Joel Lexchin discusses in BMC Medicine how and why deadly drugs get onto the market and often take years to be identified and withdrawn, not only in North America but around the world. More →
ProPublica reports that its previous analyses of how much drug companies have been secretly paying doctors was difficult to get right. Many drug companies have been having a surprising tendency to submit huge swaths of their data to the federal government's Sunshine Act database with misspellings of the names of their own companies and drugs. More →
Medical research has become too corrupted by bias, according to a post on Ethics Beyond Compliance in reaction to BMJ's latest conflict of interest policy update. "We need publicly funded research centers or anonymously funded research centers where researchers can pursue knowledge that may or may not be convenient for corporations. These researchers would be freer to publish negative results of “promising” treatments." More →
The Fix reviews the past and present of the estimated $2 billion/year industry of trying to "improve" the behaviors and attitudes of "troubled teens." More →
Bloomberg Businessweek investigates the companies involved in buying and selling mass databases of people's prescription-drug histories, and the new ways in which that information is being used by skirting privacy protections. More →
It is "unethical" for the British government to establish expected rates of depression and to pay doctors per diagnosis to increase the diagnosing of depression, writes a UK physician in the British Medical Journal. More →
The January 2015 issue of Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica has a section of freely available articles discussing the public image of psychiatry from a variety of perspectives. Articles include, "To be or not to be a psychiatrist -- what is the question?", "Overcoming stigmatizing attitudes towards psychiatrists and psychiatry" and "Wet minds, dry minds, and the future of psychiatry as a science." More →
In Bad Science and in the British Medical Journal, Ben Goldacre discusses a recent BMJ study that found a strong tendency for abstracts and press releases from universities to exaggerate study findings, which were in turn reported incorrectly by journalists. Gary Schwitzer also weighs in on HealthNewsReview.org. More →
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