Editorial Takes On Conflicts of Interest and Propaganda in Psychiatry

In a scathing editorial in this month’s Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, Dr. Giovanni Fava takes aim at prominent medical experts who have downplayed the role of financial conflicts of interest (FCOI) in medical research and practice. Fava retraces the development of the problem, the mechanisms of "propaganda" that allow conflicts to flourish, and offers suggestions for reform, including a call to boycott commercialized medical education programs and professional societies.

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Researchers Call for Reappraisal of Adverse Mental Effects of Antipsychotics, NIDS

In a study published yesterday, researchers from the Nippon Medical School in Tokyo bring attention to a condition known as neuroleptic-induced deficit syndrome (NIDS) brought on by the adverse mental effects of antipsychotic drugs. They express concern that NIDS can resemble the negative symptoms associated with schizophrenia and psychosis, leading to misdiagnosis and ineffective treatments.

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“Study Gives Prozac to Fetuses With Down Syndrome”

“A University of Texas Southwestern study will see if giving unborn babies with Down syndrome Prozac in the womb will help improve brain functioning,” according to NBC news. “Mothers pregnant with Down syndrome babies will take Prozac about 18 to 20 weeks into their pregnancy. The child will continue to take Prozac until the age of 2.”

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“Big Pharma and the Big Push for Patients to Take Their Meds”

“The pharma industry loses tens of billions in worldwide sales each year when patients don’t fill, or refill, their prescriptions,” Rebecca Robbins reports for STAT. So companies are now investing in smart pills that alert prescribers when doses are missed, providing gift cards to thank patients for compliance and even lobbying the government for permission to pay pharmacists to encourage patients to take their pills.

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“6 Facts That Prove Ambien Is More Dangerous Than You Think”

“ Ambien, a powerful prescription sleeping pill used to treat insomnia, has serious effects that you may not know about. In the video above, watch CBTforInsomnia.com founder Dr. Gregg Jacobs discuss six dangerous facts associated with the pill.”

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Psychologist Rethinks Psychotropic Medications, Calls for Renewed Dialogue

Psychologist and Professor Amber Gum has published the story of her personal journey of rethinking psychotropic medication in a special issue on "The Politics of Mental Health" in The Journal of Medicine and the Person. Influenced by Mad in America and the work of Robert Whitaker, Gum became aware of evidence that “suggests that psychotropic medications are less effective and more harmful than most believe” and now hopes to encourage other mental health professionals and researchers to engage in open-minded, critical self-assessment of standard practices.

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Breaking News! The “Cause” of “Schizophrenia” Finally “Discovered”!(?)

On January 27, 2016, a study1 was published online in the prestigious journal Nature that touted the possibility of discovering some potential biological origins of an “illness” called “schizophrenia” Subsequently, headlines across the world beamed excited proclamations of the latest breakthrough to occur in psychiatric research. The problem is, there is nothing profound about this study at all and, in fact, it is one of the least profound studies to emerge in the last few years on the topic of “schizophrenia.” It ignores the robust support that has accumulated that undermines the genetic disease model of “mental illness” and the categorical understanding of experiences falling under the umbrella term “schizophrenia.”
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“Pharma Executives Worry About Presidential Candidates Demanding Reform”

Reporting for The Intercept, Lee Fang reveals that pharma executives "have told investors that they are working actively to influence the political debate.” After “tough talk” on the price of medications in the United States from democratic contender Bernie Sanders and others, pharmaceutical companies are stepping up their lobbying and marketing efforts in an attempt to influence policy.

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“Missing in Action: Did US Journalists Miss a Huge Opportunity to Critically Examine Mental Health Screening?”

Last week, after the US Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF) made a recommendation for increased mental health and depression screening “stories in the New York Times, USA TodayThe Washington PostLos Angeles TimesCNN and Reuters all seemed to accept the premise that a sweeping increase in depression screening is justified,” Alan Cassels points out for the Health News Review. “[M]ost of the coverage was weirdly missing in action on almost everything else that counted in a serious medical screening story: explanations of the potential benefits and harms, the specificity and sensitivity of the tests, the costs of the treatment (and in this case, the myriad of costs of implementing a screening program), and the likelihood that financial conflicts of interest have inevitably tainted the research around screening tools, thus biasing the recommendations that surround them.”

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“Financial Conflicts of Interest in Medicine”

Citing the work of Lisa Cosgrove and Robert Whitaker in Psychiatry Under the Influence, Giovanni A. Fava, MD, provides an analysis of some subtle and yet important consequences of financial conflicts of interest in medicine. He also strongly criticizes the recent positions expressed by the New England Journal of Medicine which called for a reexamination of the views and regulations of financial conflicts of interest in medicine.

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“FDA Forced to Release Adverse Event Reports on Psychiatric Drugs”

Following a lawsuit brought by Andrew Thibault of Parents Against Pharmaceutical Abuse (PAPA), the FDA has produced adverse event and severe adverse event reports on psychotropic medications. For the first time ever, these reports have been published online. Accessing the site linked below, users can perform global searches for AERS reports by drug name (brand and generic) or case number, review reports by drug class, refine searches within each drug class, and examine individual reports.

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“Georgia Psychiatrist Linked to 36 Deaths, Arrested After DEA Raid”

“A Georgia psychiatrist was arrested during a DEA raid after he was accused of running a pill mill resulting in the deaths of more than 30 patients,” UPI reports. “Dr. Narendra Nagareddy was linked to the death of 36 of his patients, 12 of whom died from overdoses of prescription medication.”

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“Expert Reaction to Antidepressant Use and Suicidality”

Last week a study in BMJ linked antidepressants to the risk of suicide and aggressive behaviors. The Science Media Centre has compiled responses to the study from leading psychologists and psychiatrists.

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Further Evidence of the Adverse Effects of Antidepressants, and Why These Have Taken so Long to be Confirmed

When the idea that selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs) might make people feel suicidal first started to be discussed, I admit I was sceptical. It didn’t seem to me the drugs had much effect at all, and I couldn’t understand how a chemical substance could produce a specific thought. Because these effects did not show up in randomised controlled trials, they were dismissed and few efforts were made to study them properly. Then some large meta-analyses started to find an association between the use of modern antidepressants and suicidal thoughts and actions, especially in children.
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“Depression Experts Question Effectiveness of Stress Hormone Drug”

Pioneering research by mood disorder experts at Newcastle University has questioned the effectiveness of metyrapone, a drug suggested to treat depression. "Our research has shown that in the population of depressed patients studied, metyraphone is inadequate and therefore should not be routinely recommended as an option for treatment resistant depression,” the study author said in a press release.

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“The United States of Adderall (Part III)”

Lawrence Diller continues his series on the uses and abuses of Adderall. "You take some Adderall, go through withdrawal, build up tolerance, take some more, go through an even worse withdrawal, and so it continues.”

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“Neuroleptics Inappropriately Continued Upon ICU Discharge”

This study brings awareness to inappropriate continuation of neuroleptic medications beginning in the ICU, or other specialized hospital units that typically downgrade patients and do not necessarily directly discharge them home.

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Trailer for “As Prescribed” Benzo Documentary

Work-in-Progress trailer for “As Prescribed,” a feature documentary exposing the human devastation caused by benzo-diazepines.
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“A Skeptical Take on Quit-Smoking Drug Chantix”

Philadelphia Inquirer health writer Marie McCullough reports on severe psychiatric disturbances in people taking Pfizer’s smoking-cessation drug Chantix.

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“How Meditation, Placebos And Virtual Reality Help Power ‘Mind Over Body’”

NPR’s Fresh Air interview science writer Jo Marchant about her new book “Cure: A Journey into the Science of Mind over Body.” Marchant explores possible explanations for the placebo effect and explains efforts to harness our self-healing abilities.

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“Woman Can Sue Study Sponsor for Suicide Try”

A woman in Texas attempted suicide while in the active group of a clinical trial for smoking-cassation drugs Chantix and Zyban, both known to exacerbate depression. An appeals court ruled Thursday that she is able to sue the University that admitted her into the study.

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Largest Meta-Analysis of Antidepressants Finds Doubled Risk of Suicide in Youth

The largest-ever meta-analysis of antidepressant trials appeared yesterday in the British Medical Journal. Researchers from the Cochrane Collaboration reviewed 70 trials (involving 18,526 subjects), to find that - counter to the initially-reported findings - antidepressants doubled the risk of suicide and aggression in subjects under 18. This risk had been misrepresented in the original study reports, the authors say, and suggest that the risks to adults may be similarly under-reported.

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“Barry Takes Center Stage for World Benzo Day Launch”

Mad In America contributor and prescription drug addiction reformer Barry Haslam has “taken his fight to the world stage by helping create an international awareness day.” The Oldham Evening Chronicle announces the founding of World Benzo Day, which “aims to highlight the plight of all patients worldwide who have become prescribed drug dependent addicts through no fault of their own, who are denied right of access to dedicated withdrawal clinics and after care, who are left to struggle off these drugs without support.”

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“Pfizer’s Quiet Recall of Lyrica Capsules”

“Pfizer has quietly recalled three lots of its blockbuster drug Lyrica because of a manufacturing problem that could have left some capsules deformed or damaged,” the Pain News Network reports.

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My Diagnosis of ADHD and the Downfall That Followed

A simple, one-time visit to an unfamiliar counselor resulted in my diagnosis of ADHD. That same visit started my avalanche of drug abuse. I was 19 years old when I was falsely diagnosed with ADHD, and it forever changed my life.
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