Researchers from London, Sydney and Stanford examine the literature related to the expanded expenditure on healthcare-related drugs and devices over the last 15 years, finding an “abundance of consistent evidence demonstrating that the industry has created means to intervene in all steps of the processes that determine healthcare research, strategy, expenditure, practice and education. As a result of these interferences, the benefits of drugs and other products are often exaggerated and their potential harms are downplayed, and clinical guidelines, medical practice, and healthcare expenditure decisions are biased.” Results appear in the European Journal of Clinical Investigation.
The Wall Street Journal’s Marketwatch reports that the 15 new mental disorders in the fifth edition of the DSM create new opportunities for off-label prescribing of medications. Though pharmaceutical companies are prohibited from marketing drugs for purposes that have not been approved by the FDA, the article notes, “the DSM-5’s legitimization and expansion of certain disorders will pave the way for companies to develop and sell more drugs to treat them, and increase FDA support for new medications.”
The decision by the Institute of Psychiatry, Britain’s leading centre for psychiatric research, to invite disgraced Professor Charles Nemeroff to speak at the inaugural lecture of the Institute’s new Centre for Affective Disorders has caused a great deal of controversy, news that was recently featured on Mad in America. In the latest development members of the Critical Psychiatry Network in UK have written an open letter to Professor Pariantes, the Director of the new Centre for Affective Disorders, requesting that he cancel Nemeroff’s invitation. Full Article →
It has been a good time to bury controversy. With all eyes on Washington and the fallout from the publication of DSM-5, over here in England the Institute of Psychiatry has been discretely sending out invitations to a lecture. This is not a public lecture; it is by invitation only. And who is the esteemed guest? None other than Professor Charles Nemeroff M.D., Ph.D. Full Article →
Jeffrey Lieberman, incoming president of the APA, responds to criticism of the DSM and psychiatry, saying “it’s important to understand the difference between thoughtful, legitimate debate, and the inevitable outcry from a small group of critics – made louder by social media and support from dubious sources — who have relentlessly sought to undermine the credibility of psychiatric medicine and question the validity of mental illness.” Discuss →
People in roles of power in the mental health system often don’t realize how much complicity they have in actually creating the symptoms they claim are biologically-based in individuals with psychiatric labels. Full Article →
The Economist, in its upcoming edition, says of the DSM “No other major branch of medicine has such a single text, with so much power over people’s lives. And that is worrying. Because in no other branch of medicine is the scientific reality underpinning the pronouncements of doctors so uncertain… the current over-reliance on one point of view in this extremely uncertain science is healthy neither for psychiatry, nor for those it treats.”
I think it’s helpful to see the psychiatric/pharmaceutical complex as being somewhat analogous to one of those large inflatable giants that you sometimes see hovering over car lot sales. Sure, it looks big and powerful, and it really is so long as “we the people” buy its propaganda and its drugs and continue feeding it billions of dollars and continue “bowing down” to its “almighty wisdom.” But its entire foundation consists of a model that simply doesn’t fit the research evidence at all, and quite frankly is propped up by many outright lies. Full Article →
I believe the video ‘Voices Matter’ has, quite apart from capturing the spirit of the Hearing Voices movement, filmed the first signs, the first moments of professional interest, hinting at the dangers that inevitably are present when a movement threatens the established order of things. Full Article →
MIA blogger (and lawyer) Jim Gottstein presented a 20-minute Oral Argument in ex rel Watson v. King-Vassel in front of the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit in Chicago last Thursday. ”The technical issue on appeal is a lawyer nerd question about whether expert testimony is required,” said Gottstein, “but I like to think it contains a succinct and clear explanation of why even though a doctor can prescribe a drug for anything, if they prescribe one off-label to a child they are causing a False Claim (committing Medicaid Fraud) unless the use has support in at least one of the specified drug references called Compendia.”
The norm in science is that there is free access to the data underpinning experiments. If free access is denied; it’s not science. In the case of branded pharmaceuticals, we do not even know what trials have been done. What is put in the public domain is not data. The selected highlights of a football game and the comments of the pundits afterwards don’t change the score. The selected highlights of pharma studies and the comments of pundits routinely change the score. Full Article →
Legislation in the U.K. that empowers psychiatrists to impose treatment on patients has lost the support of one of its key advocates. ”The evidence is now strong that the use of CTOs (Community Treatment Orders) does not confer early patient benefits despite substantial curtailment of individual freedoms,” said psychiatrist Tom Burns of Oxford University, whose recent research appeared in The Lancet this month; ”We were all a bit stunned by the result, but it was very clear data and we got a crystal clear result. So I’ve had to change my mind. I think sadly – because I’ve supported them for 20-odd years – the evidence is staring us in the face that CTOs don’t work.”
Some psychiatric drugs are extraordinarily effective, for instance benzodiazepines for catatonia or SSRIs for premature ejaculation. These treatments are so effective that controlled trials are an irrelevance. Every trial conducted would show a positive result. The point here is not that it is impossible for a treatment to achieve effectiveness but rather that controlled trials have little useful to contribute to the issue of effectiveness. Randomized placebo controlled trials have not shown any drug within the mental health domain is effective. If a treatment were effective virtually every RCT undertaken would show a positive result. Full Article →
British researchers find that a 10% increase in pain medication resulted in a dramatic reduction in the use of antipsychotic and other medications. “When people with dementia are showing distress reactions this may be due to them experiencing pain or discomfort, yet too often rather than trying to identify and relieve this symptom they are needlessly given anti-psychotic drugs to calm them and keep them quiet,” said the head of quality and dementia care for Four Seasons Health Care, which conducted the (non-peer reviewed) study.
The New York Times on Obama’s $235 million initiative: “Mental health unites lawmakers Republican and Democrat, urban and rural, even those with safe seats versus those who may face competitive races.” The plan “includes includes $130 million for programs that would help detect mental illness in young children, train educators to spot those signs and refer the students to treatment.” However, NAMI”s legal advisor said of the bill “Interestingly enough… the people we’re talking about are very likely not individuals whose names would be on any lists.”
Eli Lilly & Co. will pay an undisclosed amount to settle the lawsuit of the parents of a South Dakota boy who committed suicide four weeks after starting the antidepressant Cymbalta. The lawsuit, which was to go to trial next month, that Lilly failed to adequately warn patients that the drug was known to cause suicidal inclinations, and that a 19-year-old student had committed suicide by hanging while participating in a trial of the drug for urinary incontinence.
Military.com reports that doctors from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs are continuing to prescribe tranquilizers such as Valium and Xanax despite the VA’s guidelines advising against their use in association with post-traumatic stress disorder. “Studies, however, have not shown benzodiazepines as effective treatment for what are called the core PTSD symptoms of avoidance, hyperarousal, numbing and dissociation,” the article states, but many of the veterans taking the medications are “Vietnam War-era vets, who perhaps began taking benzodiazepines years before guidelines were in place.”
In 1956, Lou Lasagna was on his way to being the most famous doctor in the United States; an advocate for controlled clinical trials of both the safety and effectiveness of medication, as well as for a revision to the Hippocratic Oath to include a holistic and compassionate approach to medicine. Then, caught in the nexus of reason, regulation, and the pharmaceutical machine, his star fell. Full Article →
Pfizer may face lawsuits regarding improper marketing of Neurontin after a Boston court reinstated lawsuits that had been denied class-action status by lower courts. The court also upheld a $142.1 million award against Pfizer for damages related to the marketing of Neurontin.
Journalist/humorist Jon Ronson’s TED talk “Strange Answers To The Psychopath Test” addresses the DSM, diseasing normality, faking mental illness, and the psychopathy of former CEO “Chainsaw” Al Dunlap. The Huffington Post, for their TED Weekends section, asked me for a reaction to Ronson’s talk—but then refused to print my blog because, a Huffington Post staffer emailed me, “the TED Weekends team said that the wording of the post was too strong.” Below is the original post. Full Article →
In these days of sequestrations, budget cliffs, and congressional gridlock, everyone is feeling pressured to cut back, cut corners and find the most inexpensive way to accomplish anything and everything. For those of us who have been working so hard over the past decades, this leads to the obvious question, “can we afford recovery?” I mean, after all, it is usually cheaper to just give someone a drug than to invest in the time and effort needed to bring human spirits back alive to strive and thrive. So I decided to look at this question, from the vantage point of my own singular life. Full Article →
The invitation from the London Review of Books to review Ben Goldacre’s Bad Pharma™ reads: “We were unsure, at first, what a review could add that isn’t already in the book – scrappy summaries and bits of praise are not for us. The book is of sufficient importance that the main thing is to get someone who knows what they’re talking about to present the material confidently… frame the discussion”. My head said it was inconceivable that the LRB wouldn’t take a review, even if it was at odds with the invitation to praise Bad Pharma. But my gut told me the inconceivable was about to take flesh. Full Article →
Pete Early, author of Crazy, traces the history of NAMI, including its “complicated love-hate relationship with Dr. E. Fuller Torrey” and shift from his 2002 keynote address to Robert Whitaker’s pending appearance at its 2013 convention in San Antonio this June. Early writes “For me, this shift away from Dr. Torrey’s views and the welcoming of Robert Whitaker as a NAMI speaker reflects how NAMI’s membership — or at least its board of directors – has moved away from its traditional parental based roots.”
A review in BMC Psychiatry concludes that “Non-English language general psychiatry journals contribute substantially to the body of research. However, recognition, and in particular recognition by the international research community is moderate.”
“Asheville psychiatrist Daniel Johnson didn’t set out to transform his profession,” says an article in North Carolina’s Mountain Xpress, “But he’s now part of a growing movement, both locally and nationally, that’s challenging the most fundamental assumptions about mental illness.” Since starting his practice in 2010, Johnson has come to believe that “unfortunately, and sadly, more often than not, medications do more harm than good … I had a lot of soul searching and reckoning to do on a personal level.”