Few experts believe that psychiatry’s relationship with the drug industry is healthy. While several speakers at the session pointed out that other specialties are similarly entangled with industry, “everyone does it” is generally not a valid defense where conflicts of interest are concerned.
Controversy continues to swell around the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, better known as DSM-5. A new study suggests the 900-page bible of mental health, scheduled for publication in May 2013, is ripe with financial conflicts of interest.
The manual, published by the American Psychiatric Association, details the diagnostic criteria and recommended treatments — many of which are pharmacological — for each and every psychiatric disorder. After the 1994 release of DSM-4, the APA instituted a policy requiring expert advisors to disclose drug industry ties. But the move toward transparency did little to cut down on conflicts, with nearly 70 percent of DSM-5 task force members reporting financial relationships with pharmaceutical companies — up from 57 percent for DSM-4.
It happens every day to people of all ages, but there are certain people who in death shine a spotlight on paradigms of cultural fragmentation and social inconsistency, even though most of us don’t see it at first.
Even while America and the rest of the world celebrate these icons’ lives, these “stars” illume a sad state of the American condition, and in some ways perhaps focus a beam on the collective human suffering. These public figures ante up the unnecessary ultimate price for a peoples that more and more feel alone in a crowd and are turning to Big Pharma to sate our appetites for some kind of reprieve from our psychic suffering. We are looking for that missing mirror of wholeness, and many believe it’s in a bottle.
On the outset, let me say I am not against all prescription drugs. Just most psychotropic medicines. I am passionately against the mass epidemic promotion and consumption of drugs in a world that cannot seem to produce unbiased numbers that substantiate efficacy in the realm of pill popping bliss.
The financial relationships raise questions about the influence of drug companies on prescribing patterns or research results. The practice “puts patients and tax dollars at risk,” said Lee Spiller, the policy director for the Texas branch of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, a nonprofit mental health watchdog. “It taints the whole process. I’d hate to think donations were shaping state mental health policy in particular.”
Alongside photographs of rocker Jon Bon Jovi and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, Giovan Bazan looks downright blithe. Although they tower over him, the tuxedo-clad Bazan wearing a slight smirk, his gelled hair and pierced ears sharply contrasting his suit-and-tie apparel.
With his cheery disposition, you wouldn’t suspect Bazan had a troubled childhood. In reality, the 21-year-old has spent a majority of his life in foster homes, and for most of his childhood, he was prescribed anti-depressants and behavioral disorder drugs.
“I went into foster care at 11 months old,” the Los Angeles native said. “When I was six, they put me on medication.”
By many accounts Bazan has come a long way since his days in foster care. In September he spoke at Atlanta-based CHRIS KIDS‘ 11th annual fundraiser alongside towering protraits of celebrities. He has adressed state legislature multiple times about issues pressing foster youth in the state. He has managed to turn his troubled childhood into a stepping stone, not a crux.