WASHINGTON, Aug 23 (Reuters) – The U.S. National Institutes of Health revised on Tuesday its 16-year-old conflict of interest rules for medical researchers, lowering the amount of money that constitutes a financial conflict and expanding the required disclosures….Concern about the integrity of research in the United States has grown since 2008, when Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley criticized prominent Harvard University psychiatrist Dr. Joseph Biederman and others for failing to fully disclose payments from drug companies.
Like an aging, punch drunk fighter struggling through the twelfth round, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) can’t seem to slip the punches coming its direction. Last week, a host of blogs went after them for refusing to print a letter written by three academics that was critical of a medical textbook the APA published with help from the ghostwriting company Scientific Therapeutics Information (STI).
The letter criticized the APA for failing to publish records that explain the provenance of the textbook, including drafts, contracts with STI and/or GlaxoSmithKline, and any communications regarding editing. The text’s purported authors are Dr. Charles Nemeroff of the University of Miami and Dr. Alan Schatzberg of Stanford University.
As The New York Times reported, the textbook was funded by GlaxoSmithKline. Author and blogger Dr. Danny Carlat reviewed the book and wrote that it read like “an advertisement for Paxil.”
Yesterday, a writer over at MIWatch landed a blistering combination on the APA. When she poked them for a response, the APA covered up and peeked back through their gloves. “The APA’s official response has been unconvincing,” she jabbed.
She then landed a solid uppercut.
File this under The Case of The Missing Book. When last seen, Scientific Therapeutics Information was at the center of an ongoing controversy over an allegedly ghostwritten book – yes, an entire book – that was published in 1999 by the American Psychiatric Association. Funding came from a grant provided by SmithKline Beecham, which is now part of GlaxoSmithKline (back story).
The listed co-authors were Charles Nemeroff, who chairs the psychiatry department at the University of Miami medical school, and Alan Schatzberg, who until recently chaired the psychiatry department at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Both men were at the center of a long-running probe by the US Senate Finance Committee into undisclosed conflicts of interest among academic researchers. They were also regular speakers for Glaxo, which makes the Paxil antidepressant
At the annual American Psychiatric Association meeting in New Orleans this summer, 200 protestors chanted “no conflicts of interest” and held up photos of individual doctors outside the convention center. Inside the hall, their charges were verified. The meeting’s Daily Bulletin disclosed that the APA president himself, Alan Schatzberg, has 15 links to drug companies including stock ownership and serving on a speakers bureau. Doctors on other speaker bureaus like Shire’s Ann Childress and Wyeth’s Claudio Soares gave presentations and workshops that — surprise! — extolled company drugs. And signing books, side by side, was the duo now accused of penning an entire book for the drug industry: Alan Schatzberg and Charles Nemeroff.
This month ProPublica and the New York Times report that Schatzberg and Nemeroff’s book, Recognition and Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders: A Pharmacology Handbook for Primary Care, may be the first entirely drug industry-approved textbook ever. Published in 1999, the book’s preface says it was funded by an unrestricted education grant to Scientific Therapeutics Information through London-based GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). Scientific Therapeutics Information of Springfield, NJ is the same medical publishing company that spun Vioxx.
Two prominent authors of a 1999 book teaching family doctors how to treat psychiatric disorders provided acknowledgment in the preface for an “unrestricted educational grant” from a major pharmaceutical company. But the drug maker, then known as SmithKline Beecham, actually had much more involvement than the book described, newly disclosed documents show. The grant paid for a writing company to develop the outline and text for the two named authors, the documents show, and then the writing company said it planned to show three drafts directly to the pharmaceutical company for comments and “sign-off” and page proofs for “final approval.” The 269-page book, “Recognition and Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders: A Psychopharmacology Handbook for Primary Care,” is so far the first book among publications, namely medical journal articles, that have been criticized in recent years for hidden drug industry influence, colloquially known as ghostwriting.