Psychopharmacology in Turmoil: David Healy, MD Presentation Columbia + Debate Dr. Joseph Coyne, Ph.D

Psychopharmacology in Turmoil: David Healy, MD Presentation Columbia + Debate Dr. Joseph Coyne, Ph.D

Fri, 9 Dec 2005

Recent reports describing a determined effort to pathologize US infants and toddlers who are being declared to suffer from “severe mental disorders”–the latest, most aggressively marketed diagnosis for children is Bipolar disorder, which is practically unheard of across the Atlantic.

See: Researchers identify bipolar disorder in preschoolers http://mednews.wustl.edu/tips/page/normal/6244.html

The following is particularly timely as it sheds light on psychiatry’s pivotal role in promoting false claims that assist the pharmaceutical industry’s market expansion goals.

On October 20, David Healy, MD, made a presentation to a seminar graduate program at Columbia University School of Public Health: “Psychopharmacology in Turmoil: an ethical or scientific crisis?”

The lecture was originally scheduled as a debate between Dr. Healy and James Coyne, Ph.D a professor in the department of psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania. Dr Coyne subsequently lectured at Rutgers the following week.*

In his documented presentation, Dr. Healy took the psychiatric profession to task for having been seduced by the drug industry. He demonstrated how this industry’s corrupting influence has penetrated all facets of the profession–tainting academic research and clinical practice guidelines–subverting the scientific method even at premier research centers.

He presented documents showing that the pillars of US psychiatry have been compromised having penned their names to ghost written journal reports that concealed the negative data and misstated the actual trial findings‹thereby participating in deception.

The deception that Dr. Healy documented is not isolated or limited to a few “rotten apples” but was shown to be controlled by drug manufacturers who systemically planted the false verdict that SSRIs were “safe and effective” for children. The placement of those deceptive reports were calibrated to ensure the widest possible penetration of the major journals that influence prescribing physicians. These include the Journal of the American Medical Association, The New England Journal of Medicine, The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatricians, not to mention the major psychiatric journals. As a result, the integrity of the scientific medical literature has been irrevocably tainted.

The major issues covered were as follows:

1. The academic literature on treating childhood depression is demonstrably the greatest known divide in all of medicine between what the supposed scientific literature says, and what the raw data that this literature purports to represent shows. Thus reports about childhood depression in prestigious scientific journals are no more trustworthy than marketing infomercials.

2. This divide is most clear-cut in the case of childhood depression, where it seems possible that the entire literature is ghost-written. But something similar must be suspected in the case of almost all articles purporting to represent the results of trials conducted on recent antipsychotics, antidepressants and mood-stabilizers.

3. Industry has been using these infomercials to seduce experts into coming to a consensus about the risks of leaving conditions untreated and the need to treat these conditions with the latest products. Based on this “evidence” experts have constructed guidelines and algorithms–the most infamous of these is TMAP. But even those guidelines that appear to be completely independent of industry are corrupted by the process as completely as TMAP and similar industry products.

4. But even if the trials were conducted in a completely independent manner and the data publicly available, there are grounds to think that psychiatry would get it wrong because current approaches to statistical data are simply wrong with journal article after journal article stating there are no risks to treatments when the data presented clearly indicate there are risks.

5. Similarly trial data are presented as indicating that treatments work and should be adopted forthwith when in fact the data suggests that treatment makes a small contribution to the therapeutic response and should accordingly be used judiciously (i.e., sparingly) rather than indiscriminately.

Dr. Healy’s lecture and slides are posted at: http://www.ahrp.org/COI/HealyColumbia1005/index.php

* Debate: An e-mail from Dr. Coyne covering the main points of his lecture at Rutgers–is posted at: http://www.ahrp.org/COI/HealyColumbia1005/Coyne.php

Dr Coyne has made serious accusations about Dr. Healy’s ethics and financial incentives– Dr. Healy’s response to each of those accusations is in the form of a series of questions for Dr. Coyne.

See also, the New York Times profile of Dr. Healy, “A Self-Effacing Scholar Is Psychiatry’s Gadfly” By BENEDICT CAREY at: http://www.ahrp.org/COI/HealyColumbia1005/NYThealy.php

Contact: Vera Hassner Sharav
212-595-8974