Grassley, who is the ranking Republican on the US Senate Finance Committee, is investigating the relationship between WebMD and drugmakers after learning the web site is running a TV ad that encourage people to take a depression-screening test sponsored by Eli Lilly, which sells Cymbalta.
The National Perinatal Depression Plan announced in the recent budget proposes to introduce routine screening during pregnancy and after birth. But the researchers say there is little evidence to support such interventions, with screening tools producing high rates of false positives and negatives for depression.
In June 2005, the Seattle Times published a series of reports including one titled, “Suddenly Sick,” by Susan Kelleher and Duff Wilson, with the byline: “The hidden big business behind your doctor’s diagnosis,” and discussed the successful trick of using “risk factors” in past drug marketing campaigns.
“You are suddenly sick,” the authors wrote, “simply because the definitions of disease have changed.” And behind those changes, the Times found, were “the companies that make all those newly prescribed pills.”