By CCHR International
May 21, 2010
NEW ORLEANS – As psychiatrists from around the world flood the area this weekend to take part in the Annual Meeting of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), psychiatric watchdog Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) is demanding that the APA sever all ties to pharmaceutical company interests and that psychiatrists stop killing children with harmful drugs.
The APA is expected to release its guidelines to reduce pharmaceutical industry ties at its convention, but it is likely to be self-serving and occurred only after public and legislative pressure forced the issue.
The US Senate Finance Committee has investigated at least 16 APA psychiatrists over their undisclosed financial ties to drug companies, including the APA’s own President, Alan Schatzberg who has stepped down as principal investigator of a National Institute of Health (NIH) funded study after months of Congressional scrutiny into his ties to the drug he was studying. He was found to have actually initiated the patent application of the drug he was studying to “treat psychotic depression.”
Other notable APA members under scrutiny by the Senate Finance Committee and scheduled to present in New Orleans are Thomas Spencer, Assistant Director of the Pediatric Psychopharmacology Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital and Dr. Joseph Biederman, Chief of the Program in Pediatric Psychopharmacology, Massachusetts General Hospital.
Dr. Spencer reportedly failed to disclose at least $1 million in earnings from drug companies between 2000 and 2007. Dr. Biederman earned $1.6 million in consulting fees from drug makers during the same period, most of which was not disclosed to Harvard University officials. In March 2009, court documents showed Biederman promised Johnson & Johnson in advance that his studies of their antipsychotic risperidone (Risperdal) would prove effective when used on preschool age children. Risperdal has been linked to potentially life-threatening diabetes and Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome. The FDA database from 2000 to 2004 found at least 45 deaths in children under 18 with newer antipsychotics and 1,328 reports of other serious side effects, some life-threatening.
Former APA president Nada Stotland stated: “We are in the midst of a revolution caused by public and legislative concern about the influence of the for-profit sector….” [Emphasis added]. Part of that public pressure for the APA to disclose its conflicts of interest with pharmaceutical companies was driven by Lisa Cosgrove Ph.D. et al’s study of DSM-IV and DSM-IV-TR committee members, which found that of the 170 members, 56% had one or more financial associations with companies in the pharmaceutical industry. Pharma’s psychotropic drug profits have soared commensurately with the increased numbers of disorders voted into the DSM.
While APA leaders and members profit from their industry connections to the drugs they are promoting; children are being killed by these same drugs.