Two essays published in separate periodicals this week raise troubling questions about the extent to which psychiatrists may be unduly influenced by the pharmaceutical industry, and how this relationship may effect public trust in psychiatry. The upshot? The concern about corruption, or at least the appearance of corruption is palpable. Sigmund Freud (see photo) would not be pleased. Interestingly, one of the authors is Tom Insel, the director of the National Institute of Mental Health.
Is the new Journal of the American Medical Association a special issue on reform? It doesn’t stop with its demands for new publication standards. It’s also showcasing a rallying cry from National Institute of Mental Health Director Dr. Thomas Insel, who calls on his fellow psychiatrists to “clean up our act.”
Dr. Thomas Insel stops short of calling researchers corrupt or asking them to stop taking money from drug companies. But he highlights a “bias in prescribing practices” that favors brand names drugs over cheaper generics and non-drug treatments. And he says the situation must change with new standards for transparency and full disclosure of psychiatry’s collaborations with industry.
Bipartisan legislation sponsored by Grassley to require drug, device and biologic manufacturers to report quarterly to the Department of Health and Human Services payments to physicians is part of the health care reform bill passed by the Senate Committee on Finance. The Physician Payments Sunshine Act, S.301, would establish the first-ever nationwide requirement for this information to be reported and made publicly available.