The Australian – July 14, 2011
by Sue Dunlevy
TWO of the seven experts advising the government on national guidelines for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder have links to ADHD drug companies, new conflict-of-interest declarations show.
Westmead adolescent health expert Michael Kohn, who has been appointed to the National Health and Medical Research Council working group, was paid by Eli Lilly, the maker of the ADHD drug Strattera, to develop educational material.
And Janssen-Cilag, which makes the ADHD drug Concerta, gave funds for Professor Kohn to go to a Beijing conference on mental health and to produce teaching material.
The consumer representative on the committee, Margaret Vikingur, the president of Learning and Attentional Disorders, says her organisation received $5000 from three drug companies to develop educational materials.
More than 400,000 ADHD prescriptions a year are written, and their use has soared by 300 per cent over the past seven years, sparking debate about use and conflicts of interest.
Drug firms told Medicines Australia they spent more than $40 million wining and dining and “educating” doctors in the six months to March last year.
The conflict-of-interest declarations will be made public today by Mental Health and Ageing Minister Mark Butler, and follow the controversy over the 2009 draft ADHD guidelines, which were never adopted by the NHMRC because of concerns US research heavily cited in them was compromised by drug firm funding.
US psychiatrist Joseph Biederman, whose work is cited over 80 times in the draft guidelines, and two colleagues were sanctioned by Harvard University after allegedly failing to report more than $1.6m they received from drug firms.
The 2009 ADHD guidelines will be redeveloped.
“I am committed to ensuring the clinical practice points developed by this group will not be influenced by undeclared or inappropriate conflicts of interest,” Mr Butler said yesterday.
West Australian Labor MP Martin Whitely said the conflicts of interests declared by Professor Kohn and Ms Vikingur should have had them excluded from the panel.