Pharmas Abandoning New Drug Development


“Antipsychotics and antidepressants have been some of the most profitable agents for companies over the last two decades,” said Dr. Thomas Insel, director of the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health in a commentary for Science Translational Medicine, “But that doesn’t mean they’re effective. What it means is that they sell and they can be marketed.”

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. I can think of no new drug development that could reduce suffering and impairment as much as stopping the use of current medications for new “patients” and helping those old “patients who wish to get off this crap to do so.

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  2. When reading Thomas Insel, I usually feel there is some common sense in a lot of his views, but there is always often leaps of logic where I need to pinch myself, like the following:

    “There are no drugs to target the main symptoms of autism such as social deficits and language disorder, Insel said. Those deficits often respond well to intensive behavioural treatments, which suggests there’s potential for a pharmacological approach.”

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  3. The sad thing is that so many doctors, user’s and especially parents drugging their kids have been relying in their mind on the belief that new and better drugs are right around the corner, including drugs to treat problems caused by earlier drugs. I remember when I was a kid and I would argue about being drugged that one of my main arguments was that I wouldn’t want to live with a movement disorder (which I have) so why even risk doing that to me? Because by the time I’m 20 (I’m 29) they’ll be drugs out to take care of that problem. That’s what numerous people back then told me.

    I’m sure that’s what most people believe even today. There’s no denying the harm caused by these drugs. I think if most people could be assured that no new and better drugs are coming than most people would at least stop drugging their kids. At least I hope that would.

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    • I know a journalist who takes psych drugs despite the dangers who is convinced there will a new generation of anti-psychotics that will be effective and safe.

      La la la la la

      I thought they had stopped saying that sort of thing after the last round of drugs proved to be as dangerous and uneffective as the last ones. Obviously not.

      La la la la la

      The myth of the safe and effective psych drugs in deeply ingrained and will need a few big puches to dislodge it.

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  4. Maybe the drug companies have realized that there will be no new breakthroughs because their basic approach was deceptive and morally bankrupt to begin with, and people are finally catching on. If I were a drug company CEO and read Whitaker’s book, I’d certainly be thinking about alternate areas for research! I wonder if they’re just leaving town before they’re tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail.

    —- Steve

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