The first week in May brought a new leader in France and new prospects for same sex couples seeking marriage. But at the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting in Philadelphia, attended by 11,000 psychiatrists, it was the same old same old. Instead of listening to the public outcry about overmedicated children, soldiers, elderly and everyday people watching too many drug ads, the psychiatry group re-affirmed its resolve to pathologize healthy people and even rolled out new groups to target.
The primary promoters–inventors, one might say– of diagnosing children with “bipolar” disorder, who for over a decade, aggressively promoted the biopolar diagnosis and use of antipsychotics in children, were disciplined by Harvard University and its affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.
An investigation, prompted by Sen. Charles Grassely, was conducted by Harvard University-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. It concluded (earlier this month) that psychiatrist Joseph Biederman and two of his proteges, Thomas Spencer and Timothy Wilens -each of who failed to disclose millions of dollars they had each received from the makers of antipsychotics, the drugs they promoted for the treatment of bipolar in children–had indeed violated the University’s/ and hospital’s conflict of interest reporting standards. The companies that paid them millions include: Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline and Bristol-Myers Squibb.
Concerned about the influence advertising may have on physicians, an Australian medical journal will no longer accept paid ads about prescription drugs and has called on other journals to take the same stand.
The ads could “change the prescribing practices of doctors”, wrote editors George Jelinek and Anthony Brown wrote in an editorial. “It is time to show leadership and make a stand, and medical journals have a critical role to play in this. At Emergency Medicine Australasia, we have, therefore, drawn a line in the sand and have stopped all drug advertising forthwith. We invite other journals to show their support and follow suit by declaring their hand and doing the same.”
As human beings we have a strong natural impulse to protect our kids from harm. As a society we create norms, laws and institutions to protect, educate and nurture our young.