“We Need Publicly Funded Research Centers”

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 →

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Unregulated Troubled Teen Industry Still Profiting

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 →

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“The Big Business of Selling Prescription-Drug Records”

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 →

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Paying Doctors to Diagnose More Depression is Unethical

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 →

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Psychiatrists Discuss Psychiatry’s Poor Public Image and What to Do About It

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 →

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Abstracts and Academic Press Releases Mislead Journalists and Public

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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Do Insurance Companies Profit from Rising Drug Costs?

Many insurance companies have little interest in slowing the rise of inappropriate over-prescribing of pharmaceutical drugs, according to a study in Health Policy. That's because many insurers ultimately make larger profits from the expanding costs of health care and insurance coverage, stated the researchers. More →

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Prominent Patient Safety Advocate Was Taking Kickbacks from Pharma

ProPublica revisits the story of Dr. Chuck Denham, the previous editor of the Journal of Patient Safety and former "co-chairman of a committee that set guidelines for the National Quality Forum, a nonprofit group that endorses best practices that are widely adopted throughout the healthcare community." It was discovered that Denham was long in a conflict of interest, secretly taking money from the pharmaceutical industry. More →

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“Pay $1000 to criticize a bad ‘blood test for depression’ article?”

In the PLOS Blog Mind the Brain, James Coyne recounts how he wanted to participate in post-publication peer review surrounding the "bad science" in an article about an alleged "blood test for depression" published in Translational Psychiatry. He learned it would cost him $1,000. He then discusses what looks like a trend to suppress criticism of studies in medical and psychiatric journals, and re-examines just how bad the science in that blood test for depression article really was. More →

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Psychiatrist Discovers Who Was Secretly Paying the Psychiatrists Who Mocked Her

Young psychiatrist Jean Kim argues that psychiatrists need to reflect more on the morality of their work, then gets "laughed out of the room" by fellow psychiatrists. "One psychiatrist, a schizophrenia specialist, said he didn’t see the point. The acting medical director said he felt I’d called him immoral. A top research psychiatrist said, incredibly, 'Morality and psychiatry should be kept separate,'" writes Kim. Five years later with the help of ProPublica's online tool, Kim finds out how much money all of these psychiatrists were secretly taking from the drug industry. More →

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Nurse with Secret Recordings Exposes More about University of Minnesota Research Scandal

A senior nurse who has been involved for 22 years with the University of Minnesota's psychiatric research program is accusing the university of a cover-up in the case of the death of patient Dan Markingson, reports Fox9 news. More →

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Two Canadian Sources of Independent Health & Mental Health Research Shut Down

The Canadian Women's Health Network (CWHN), for two decades a major source of critical, independent research and information on women's health and mental health, has had to stop all its activities and close its doors indefinitely after the Canadian government took away its funding. The announcement came in a CWHN press release just days before one of the co-founders of CWHN, Anne Rochon Ford, accepted an award from Toronto City Council for having a "significant impact on securing equitable treatment for women in Toronto." The announcement came only weeks after the independent Canadian open-access journal Open Medicine also was forced to shut down. Both blamed declining support for scientific research that does not serve corporate interests. More →

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California Foster Care Physicians Taking Double the Average in Pharma Money

Drug companies spent over $14 million from 2010 to 2013 to "woo" California doctors who specialize in treating foster children, according to part three of an ongoing investigation by San Jose Mercury News. "Drugmakers distribute their cash to all manner of doctors, but the investigation found that they paid the state’s foster care prescribers on average more than double what they gave to the typical California physician," reported Mercury News. The physicians who prescribed the most psychiatric medications to foster children received almost four times as much in cash and gifts as the lower-frequency prescribers. More →

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Global Rise in ADHD Diagnoses: Medicine or Marketing?

The dramatic rise in ADHD spreading from the United States to the rest of the world is more an "economic and cultural plague" than it is a medical plague, said Brandeis University professor Peter Conrad in a press release accompanying a research article he co-authored for the journal Social Science and Medicine. The paper examined the growth of ADHD in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy and Brazil. More →

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Completely New Naming System for Psychotropic Drugs Proposed

A group of influential organizations are beginning an effort to change the entire way that psychiatric medications are named, according to a press release from the European College of Neuropsycho-pharmacology. "Doctors have found that the name of the drug you are prescribed significantly influences how the patient sees the treatment," stated the press release. More →

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“Mother’s Little Anti-Psychotic Is Worth $6.9 Billion A Year”

In the Daily Beast, Jay Michaelson struggles to make sense of the fact that the antipsychotic Abilify is America's top-selling drug, even while its medical method of action upon the brain is deemed to be "unknown." More →

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The Federal Report on Financial Relationships Between Pharma Industry and Prescribing Physicians

The new Social Security Act, an Obamacare-inspired, Open Payments report came out September 30th. As part of the new healthcare reform policy, this federal report requires pharmaceutical and medical device companies to annually share documentation of direct payments they provided to entities such as medical practices and teaching hospitals. But before anyone gets excited and thinks there is finally a reliable and valid monitoring method to document that such payments are minimal as well as on the up and up, please note that 40% of the payment records (considered for inclusion in the 2013 Open Payments report) were not included in the $3.5 billion due to “unresolved questions” being cited.
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“Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime” Wins Book Award From British Medical Association

Peter Gøtzsche's Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime has won first prize in the "Basis of Medicine" category of the British Medical Association's annual book awards. More →

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Australian Physicians Launch “No Drug Ads” Campaign

A group of physicians and academics in Australia has launched a campaign to ban all pharmaceutical company sales representatives from visiting any medical doctors or psychiatrists, reports ABC News. Physician Geoff Spurling reviewed 58 international studies looking at the impacts of the practice, and told ABC News, "We found that doctors who saw drug reps were more than twice as likely to prescribe the promoted drug than doctors who hadn't seen drug reps." More →

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Daydream Disorder Stirs Controversy

"The name of a 'new attention disorder' sounds like an Onion-style parody: sluggish cognitive tempo," writes Slate. "It also sounds like a classic case of disease mongering: blurring normality with sickness to boost drug companies’ bottom lines." But according to PsychCentral, that perspective is "poisoning the well through innuendo." More →

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Europe Issues Policy on Access to Clinical Trial Data, Criticisms Continue

The European Medicines Agency has announced in a press release its final policies on the open publication of data from clinical trials. Ed Silverman of WSJ Pharmalot reports that the policies are still being widely criticized by people who would like trial data to be accessible to the public for independent evaluations of safety and effectiveness of medications. More →

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“Boiling Frustration” Among Protesting Psychiatrists

AlterNet has published a feature story about prominent critical psychiatrist and MIA Foreign Correspondent David Healy, who "says his output and reputation have had little to no effect -- both on the pharmaceutical industry he argues buries relevant information about prescription drug harms, and on the psychiatric and medical professions he claims are being 'eclipsed' by drug companies." More →

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We Believe Drugs with Simpler Names are Less Hazardous

People tend to strongly believe that pharmaceutical drugs with simpler and easier-to-pronounce names have fewer dangerous side effects, according to a study in the Journal of Health Psychology. More →

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Sunday History Channel: Retro Report on Prozac

The New York Times has released Retro Report's ten-minute documentary video and essay looking at the birth and rise to fame of the SSRI antidepressant Prozac, and the growing backlash against this "marvel of commercial branding." More →

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Pharma Gave US Doctors $3.5 Billion in 5 Months

"Opening the book on long-hidden industry relationships, the federal government revealed nearly $3.5 billion worth of payments and other ties that U.S. doctors and teaching hospitals have with drug and medical-device companies," reports the Los Angeles Times. The long-awaited product of the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, though, is being universally panned for its poor usability. More →

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