Martin Keller, Principal Investigator of Controversial Paxil Study, Leaves Brown University

Alison Bass
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I just learned that Dr. Martin Keller, principal investigator of the controversial Paxil study 329, has retired from his position as a professor of psychiatry at Brown University — see here. As Pharmalot notes, Keller quietly retired June 30 in the midst of an ongoing campaign to have the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry retract the Paxil study he led while chair of psychiatry at Brown; this study and Keller’s role in it was a major focus of my book, Side Effects, published in 2008 and which I’ve blogged about since — see here and here.

A Brown spokesman declined to elaborate on why Keller retired when he did, but it seems clear the timing is linked to the growing pressure to retract study 329 in the wake of GlaxoSmithKline’s $3 billion settlement with U.S. Department of Justice over claims that the study was misleading and fraudulent — see here and here.

Now it remains to be seen whether the journal will acknowledge the extensive evidence that study 329, published in 2001, contained major errors and omissions and retract it.

This blog was originally posted on my blog at alison-bass.com.

 

28 COMMENTS

  1. Re: Retirement/Retraction

    Half of the psychiatric field is approaching retirement age; soon to retire.

    GSK’s Paxil 329 study is only a small part of the problem.
    The entire foundation of psychiatry is built on lies, fraud…

    Maybe they’ll retract all of it when they leave.
    The whole biopsychiatric model; the entire myth.

    Wishful thinking.

    Duane

  2. Scott,

    You are absolutely correct. We already know all of this and we run around and complain about it and talk about it and get upset about it, but nothing is done about it. The hospital I work in is also a teaching hospital and as I went by the conference room where the psychiatrist interns meet every morning the psychiatrist who instructs them had a power point presentation about all the wonderful “medications” and all the wonderful things that they do for people. I wanted to run into that room to smash his notebook computer and trash his wonderful little presentation. Even though we all know the harm these psychiatrists do to people they continue their relentless march to make everyone in this country sick. I don’t know how to go about doing something about it. I guess this is why I come here every day. But so far I haven’t seen any answers as to how we go about doing something. It’s very frustrating for me as I have to watch the psychiatrists in this locked ward facility continue to get away with the chicanery, quackery, and snake oil peddling. Do you have any answers?

  3. At the very least, he’s retiring with a black cloud over his work.

    1boringoldman has been pounding on the deficiencies of Study 329, dredging up and re-analyzing the data and the memos that went back and forth between GSK, the study authors, and journal editors.

    It was a con job from the first.

  4. Psssst!! Over here!!

    Fraud for profit is a CRIME.

    It does not matter WHO you are, IF you LIE to the public for financial gain AND conceal evidence of potential harm from your LIE, you are a crook. Period.

    PHARMA made billions; the Psychiatrist made millions and there was a good chunk of change for those who *sold the books*

    WHO cares abut the kids who have died from SSRI induced suicide/violence? WHO cares about those who will die— ???

    WHO cares about Keller’s retirement?

    I’ll say one thing for 1boringoldman , he has done a lot of work sitting in his porch rocker! Someone with a tad of integrity could easily make a case for criminal prosecution from Dr. Mickey’s documents.

    That’s an endeavor worth writing about ! At the very least, one would hope that the implications of this “con job” are not lost in the pile of crap that reads like a soap opera of the rich and famous!

    • I do not know. Allison Bass may know more. She is a reporteer and she has followed this story and documented this in her book and elsewhere for many years.
      I am not a defender of or apologist for Dr. Keller. All I know is that he is at retirement age, he may not have been pushed out, and he may well have been able to leave with all of his benefits, titles, and privileges intact

      • Regarding your position with regard to Dr. Keller, I think you can add to:

        “I am not a defender of or apologist for Dr. Keller.” by saying that you aren’t a “critic” of him either!

        This reminds me of the “other” part of the saga of our response as a society to the truth about study 329— psychiatrists have remained mute regarding the significance of Study 329. Silent.

        Remaining silent on this one, reads like, condoning to me, Dr. Steingard! by definition, purely by definition of the silence that is deafening amongst psychiatrists these days…

        • Sinead-
          You have made up your mind about me – as is your perogative – so it makes me hesitant to reply but here goes. I am a critic. Study 329 is a terrible study. In my writing and in my professional life I have made it clear that I am disgusted by the collusion of leading psychiatrists with pharma. It is what brought me to Whitaker’s book, it is what led me to take him seriously, to spend the past year re-thinking everything I believe about psychiatry, it is what motivates me to work towards change in the system in which I work, and to participate on MIA. I have no doubt that you will somehow find some nuance in my language here that betrays that I am somehow less than sincere in what I write. So be it.
          My point in commenting on this thread is that I do not think Keller’s retirement is necessarily a cause for celebration among his critics since he was undoubtedly allowed to retire with all of the benefits and prestige that is given to anyone who ends a career at a major academic medical center.

          • Sandy,

            I Responded to what you posted here, which I have to assume was your response?. Like PC, I fail to see your “outrage”. Actually, I can’t remember reading any of your writing on MIA that reflects your ‘disgust’ of ‘leading psychiatrists”. Maybe you could direct me to these posts?

            I share the deep outrage of many who have close, personal experience with the harm done to children, adolescents and young adults by what you call the “collusion of leading psychiatrists with pharma” in the context of very little outrage expressed publicly by psychiatrists. Where is the movement to hold the corrupt leading psychiatrists accountable? To accurately inform the public regarding the serious risks of these drugs? You write in a very ‘politically correct way’ on this site. If there is some evidence of your taking a strong position amongst your peers, naming names— spelling out the significance of this corruption in terms that relate it to the human beings who have been harmed and may be the next victims; something along these line, i’d have to see before I apologize for taking personal and professional offense to your “politically correct” posturing here.

            It seems that you are characterizing me as having a personal issue with you. The more direct way of demonstrating that I am way off base would be a simple matter of providing the evidence of your “outrage’ at your colleagues, and your reaction to the harm done to kids.

            BTW, I can’t figure out how you could know my mind. I think your claiming that I have made up my mind about you is a bit presumptuous and it is also quite insulting. IF you aren’t amongst the silent majority of psychiatrists who are not challenging and confronting their colleagues — then, just demonstrate that and I will “sincerely” apologize.

        • That doesn’t seem fair, Sinead. Sandy was only trying to get down to facts regarding Keller’s retirement.

          I tried to find his age but couldn’t. Judging by his college degrees, he’s probably around retirement age. Some university professors retire then, some don’t. Pharmalot speculated that his retirement had something to do with the Study 329 disgrace, but there’s no evidence of that. Maybe he’s gone off to tend his vineyard or something.

          • Altostrata,

            I am only trying to get down to the facts regarding the number one issue on the minds of many of my colleagues and a growing number of commenters here on MIA, that is : WHEN is the response by psychiatrists going to reflect the gravity of this offense?

            Keller, the mastermind of Paxil study 329, retiring with full benefits? IS THAT the outrageous story… du jour? Sure, it is outrageous, but pales in comparison to the truth of this matter, don’t you think?

            Has Sandy become a full partner in your efforts to provide safe and accurate advice for those trying to get off psychiatric drugs? That kind of news would help me understand why you might find my challenge of her writing here, “unfair”? Otherwise, I have to wonder if you aren’t just getting caught up in the drama and the gossip that seems to be the main theme of this blog .

    • PC,

      I just want to throw out a time line that may put Keller’s retirement in perspective, at least so far as it may concern us.

      Study 329 was published 11 years ago! 2001 ! There has been nothing in the U.S. that comes close to the documentary aired in the UK, produced by the BBC; the work of investigative reporter Sara Joffe, a documentary that prompted the NICE regulations on SSRIs that restrict the use in patients under the age of 22yrs (I think— maybe even older). This public outrage was led by a ‘lay person’ who could not accept the lack of concern over the suicide reports in children who participated in this study. One is too many! I am not going into details, you can google the pertinent terms, but this was a media event in the UK around 2004…8 years ago!

      Here we are, still tweaking the story of the most hideous example of corruption/collusion of top ranked, Academic psychiatrists, pharmaceutical companies and a completely “in the dark’ or “out to lunch” FDA. We also get a chance to see how loose the standards of the “American Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry” are…. or should we say how unconcerned they are with regard to how their negligence perpetuated the practice of prescribing SSRIs to kids and teens?

      So, how does Keller’s retirement NOW fit into the story we are writing, the saga of our response to study 329, as a nation full of experts and exposes?

      I think the NEWS- worthiness of Keller’s retirement is a close second to the latest multi million dollar settlement GSK has been ordered to pay… or perhaps they are even up in importance. Both of these stories serve as a means of distracting the public (even the concerned- public audience) from the fact that as a society, we have pretty much just put a stamp of approval on the most heinous form of child abuse imaginable in a developed country!

      Film at eleven: “Who’s in and who’s out? the guest list for DOCTOR Keller’s retirement party.”

  5. Sinead,
    My son is a victim of psychopharmacology and the crime committed against him would have not been possible without the fraudulent behavior of the psychiatrists who treated my son in particular and the psychiatric profession in general. I have not read Alison’s book but I believe the fight she picked in exposing study 329, having the JAACAP retract it and using the media to spread the word is extremely important. I take these issues personally.
    However, I ask, shouldn’t a more appropriate title for this article have been:

    “Outrage! Keller is 65, retires with benefits, titles and privileges intact.”

    Alison creates the impression that Keller was pushed out. She should clarify.

      • No, not at all. I think you and I are in agreement about this. I only hesitate because Allison Bass had been pretty outspoken and has taken on the large and powerful medical/pharma business in her book. I do not think she would hesitate to criticize so maybe she knows something we do not know. I do not know much about the Brown Department but if you read the links, it does not seem to me that they have taken much responsiblity for this. Read 1boringoldman. He is not boring at all and he just terrific on this (and on many other things related to this topic).
        I am sorry about your son.

        • Sandy,
          Writing a book about a scandalous industry is not the same thing as “taking them on”. The second wealthiest industry in the world has not shown an inclination to engage with any investigative journalist, much less the most outspoken expert in psychopharmacology, Dr. David Healy. I think the take home message is that PHARMA hasn’t been taken on by anyone, any group, any regulatory agency.

          Dr. Keller has not been held accountable by Brown University, his professional peers, much less the Attorney General of the U.S. for his criminal activity,

          I would pose these questions:

          To what degree is a person responsible to act on a truth that poses the threat of serious harm to children? and Does the professional status of a person in possession of said truth matter in terms of the level of responsibility he/she has to protect the public/children from harm?

          I follow 1boringoldman’s blog, thanks to Altostrata’s referral! I am confident then, in assuming you have the very best available information on Dr. Keller’s actions in Paxil Study 329. Or rather, you are in possession of a truth that is an indication of harm done and harm that continues to be done to children and adolescents. I eagerly await news of how you execute your professional responsibility in this regard.

          Thanks,
          Sinead

    • PC,

      I have made a very deep commitment to protecting children and adolescents from becoming victims of the ongoing crimes committed by “leading psychiatrists”. Without the widespread lies and betrayal of not only the public’s trust in academic medicine but the betrayal of the trust of below the rank of MD level mental health professionals, these crimes could not have occurred. IF there was a widespread display of outrage by the MDs currently practicing psychiatry as well as MDs in general, these crimes could be prosecuted!

      I have read Allison’s book. In discussions with colleagues who have also read it, the focus changes quickly from praise for her investigative journalism expertise to the implications of the evidence she makes public in her book. Realizing that she could not mount a one woman crusade against the “criminals” who are literally guilty of a most egregious form of child abuse, there is still a reasonable expectation of recognition of the this crime by the author of “Side Effects” and this blog. Reasonable expectations are not tantamount to character aspersions, are they?

      If I say that being a leading academic psychiatrist, Dr. Keller should address his errors with both remorse and dedication to correcting the major transgressions he and many others in his peer group have committed— to the severe detriment of our children, am I out of line? If I say that having both integrity and strong ethics are reasonable expectations one could have for a leader in academic medicine, am I off base? If I express outrage that a leader in academic medicine has breeched the trust of the public , am I being petty and slanderous ? And, if I wonder why psychiatrists who read the blogs on this site are not leading the crusade, am I being “unfair”?

      PC, I do agree with your suggestion for a more to the point title for THIS article. However, from a deep desire to move the discussion more to the issue that is the main point, or the bottom line, of Paxil study 329, I do not feel the slightest urge to employ restraint.

      On this site, of all places, I believe it is imperative that we grapple with what it means when doctors spin their clinical research in favor of personal financial gain EVEN when the research showed their treatment could prove fatal for children and adolescents and certainly poses many other substantial risks to their health and well being in the context of being anything but a treatment for what is most often a natural life event for the young patient!!!

      IF we conduct a poll tomorrow. If we ask a large, diverse sample of our population in this country if they want to allow doctors to make up disorders and treat them with life threatening toxins, what do you think the response will be?

      Now, consider the response when these same people are told that there is proof that this is exactly what has and is happening in child/adolescent psychiatry. Who wouldn’t think this must be breaking news?

      Now, tell them that the evidence is about 8 years old from a study done 11 years ago that demonstrates the intentional misrepresentation of clinical trial data, in effect; the fraudulent marketing of a dangerous drug that has made billions for GSK; a crime that could not have been pulled off without the endorsement and creativity of a leading academic psychiatrist, who recently announced his retirement.

      They will want to know more about this, no doubt. Would you refer them to this site and this blog for the details?

      I do not intend to show disrespect for any participant on this site, but I have clear priorities when it comes to the health and well being of children and adolescents. THEY are the priority.

      So, PC, i think that retracting the study would be a moot point if the main issue of it were to become a matter of widespread public discussion and debate!