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.
Now Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, is investigating financial ties between Lilly and WebMD Health Corp. because of a WebMD TV ad exhorting people to undergo a Lilly depression screening.
The FDA plans to increase misdemeanor prosecutions of industry execs as it looks to refocus its Office of Criminal Investigations. The move comes in response to a new report from the General Accountability Office that the OCI suffers from lax oversight, despite increased in funding and staffing over the past decade. In fact, the FDA hasn’t reviewed most OCI offices in more than three years. The OCI investigates counterfeit drugs and other bad stuff, as well as misconduct by FDA employees.