Thursday, June 4, 2020

Comments by nrubin

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  • A lot of what Koplewicz says publicly about helping children plays well in the media, but is what this guy says really objective or merely masking his own personal agenda in promoting himself and psychotropic drugs for children??

    Check out the Wikipedia article on “Harold S. Koplewicz”. Here are just a few examples about the Koplewicz that pose questions of integrity / conflicts of interest:

    – As noted in this website article, Koplewicz co-authored the widely discredited trial study report (Study 329) of the psychotropic antidepressant drug Paxil in 2001 that was sponsored by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and used to market the drug to children as safe and effective. The U.S. Department of Justice (and other state governments) sued GSK for fraud and for using unsound scientific trial results (Koplewicz’s report). To this and other charges, Koplewicz responded by dismissing critics and investigators as “ridiculous” “conspiracy theorists” who impugn the integrity of doctors and a respected industry. (See his Huffington Post blog about Dr. Marcia Angell).

    However, after years of investigation and court evidence by the U.S. Government, and even as Koplewicz attempts to silence his detractors with derision and ridicule, in 2012 his report’s sponsor GSK settled with the US DOJ for a record $3 billion (plus millions more for other cases).

    – He is a well-compensated (shares and financial payments) chairman of a pharmaceutical/medical device company (Delcath Sys) and also receives compensation as a director of another medical tech company (Biosigns Tech).

    – For the past 12 years he has managed (for compensation, assumingly) a “peer-reviewed” psychopharmocology journal owned and published by Mary Ann Liebert, a for-profit entity that invests in bio-chem technologies/research publishing. A quick look shows that Koplewicz’s journal tends to feature articles written by himself and his friends who have the same real or potential conflicts of interests. New definition of “peer-reviewed”?

    – In 2009 he started and is president of a for-profit clinic (Child Mind Medical Practice PLLC) that specializes in and advocates the controversial practice of widely using psychotropic/psychoactive drugs as the primary means of treating children. He has ownership interest and a salary as president, and charges up to $1000/hour for talking with children and/or parents (NYT 2011). The Child Mind Institute/Foundation (from which he collects yet another salary) and its programs to “help children” serve also as PR covers for fundraising and for Koplewicz and for feeding clients to his medical practice.

    In a very clever scheme, the non-profit foundation raises money from well-intended donors to “help the children” with “financial aid” and then uses much of that money to pay the portions of the large fees (much higher than industry standard) that Koplewicz and his for-profit clinic charge that can’t be afforded by some children’s parents. In other words, for 20% or so of clients, Koplewicz charges as much as the clients can afford, and then has donors (who probably think they are donating to some noble cause of research for children) pay him the rest. To the public this questionable financial conflict of interest is obfuscated in vague financials and accounting sleights-of-hand. CMI ambiguously combines the financials of the for-profit and non-profit in a combined annual report, and refuses to publicly provide any credible accounting of how they actually spend the money they raise from gullible donors, nor do they provide any surveys or analysis of how their programs have actually performed or whom they have actually helped. If you strip away all the marketing hype (“Dr. K saved my children…” [paraphased quote of the owner of Penthouse Magazine and one of Kople investors Marc Bell]) on what basis can one discern what real and quantifiable impact his programs have actually had?

    Interestingly, literally millions of dollars that they raise in donations each year (“to help the children”, of course) are used just to pay the rent of their 24,000 sqft space on Manhattan’s Park Avenue (this little fact seems to be left out of the promo/fundraising material and replaced with photos of smiling children and of Koplewicz appearing with famous celebrities and socialites). Note: avg office space on Park Ave is est. at $79/sq foot per month (according to Morningstar Credit Agency) and is among the most expensive in the world. Hmm….

    – A background check showed that he had his own PR Assistant Brittney Green at NYU’s Child Mind Center and his CMI “Public Education Manager” Caroline Axelrod write flattering articles (e.g., his “vision”, brilliant leadership, transforming lives…) about him in Wikipedia (and of course there was no disclosure of this conflict of interest). Look for yourself where the original articles on “Harold S. Koplewicz”, “NYU Child Study Center”, etc, were written by his PR staff.

    – He introduces himself and is usually introduced as a “leading doctor” (check on how he nearly always refers to himself on Twitter, Facebook, his articles, interviews, etc…) and that he’s been written up in the New York magazine (NYM) as one of New York’s “Best Doctors”. Somehow he fails to mention that the list actually includes nearly 1,200 NY doctors or of his connection with Caroline Miller, editor-in-chief of NYM for eight years, who actually works for Koplewicz and is the creator/manager of his CMI website — no conflict of interest there! Also, along with the NYM mention, Koplewicz and his followers/acolytes rarely fail to tout that he has been recognized by the “Best Doctors” in America website, but somehow fail to mention that this list is actually comprised of the top 47,000 doctors in the U.S., which is hardly the pinnacle of success Koplewicz insinuates.

    – When you investigate press coverage of Koplewicz and CMI, you begin to wonder just how many “journalists” like Ingrid Wickelgren of the “Scientific American” Koplewicz has recruited and cultivated to shill for him and his ventures. Google-search (“child mind institute”, “ingrid wickelgren”) and see for yourself how many articles and blog pieces in different media outlets she churns out, extolling the endless virtues of Koplewicz and his CMI venture… Maybe I didn’t dig deep enough, but it wasn’t obvious to me that any serious journalism or critical thinking was present. Furthermore, do a Google search on “Harold Koplewicz” and you will literally see thousands of references to him that repeat virtually verbatim the same flattering biographical descriptions that originally came from Koplewicz himself and his PR people.

    Try finding independent and primary source verification of other roles he purports to have played (other than the endless copy-pasting of the personal profile that started making the Internet rounds when he was at NYU) and you will probably face the same difficulty I did. If we sneak a peek behind the Wizard of Oz’s curtain, what else will we find that is illusory, inflated or falsely attributed credit that belongs to others?

    Conclusion – I personally have never met the guy, so, after seeing him in the media, reading his articles and those about him and getting second and third hand accounts from people who knew him from the past, I end up wondering who the real Harold Koplewicz is and what part of what he says I should believe…