Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! CounterPunch is entirely supported by our readers. Your donations pay for our small staff, tiny office, writers, designers, techies, bandwidth and servers. We don’t owe anything to advertisers, foundations, one-percenters or political parties. You are our only safety net. Please make a tax-deductible donation today.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Interests in Conflict

by MARTHA ROSENBERG

At the annual American Psychiatric Association meeting in New Orleans this summer, 200 protestors chanted “no conflicts of interest” and held up photos of individual doctors outside the convention center. Inside the hall, their charges were verified.

The meeting’s Daily Bulletin disclosed that the APA president himself, Alan Schatzberg, has 15 links to drug companies including stock ownership and serving on a speakers bureau.

Doctors on other speaker bureaus like Shire’s Ann Childress and Wyeth’s Claudio Soares gave presentations and workshops that — surprise! — extolled company drugs.

And signing books, side by side, was the duo now accused of penning an entire book for the drug industry: Alan Schatzberg and Charles Nemeroff.

This month ProPublica and the New York Times report that Schatzberg and Nemeroff’s book, Recognition and Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders: A Pharmacology Handbook for Primary Care, may be the first entirely drug industry-approved textbook ever. Published in 1999, the book’s preface says it was funded by an unrestricted education grant to Scientific Therapeutics Information through London-based GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). Scientific Therapeutics Information of Springfield, NJ is the same medical publishing company that spun Vioxx.

Schatzberg was investigated by the Senate in 2008 which found “a lack of consistency” between what he earned from drug companies and what he reported to Stanford where he continues to head the psychiatry department. He owns $6 million of stock in a company he co-founded, Corcept Therapeutics, which sought FDA approval for a psychiatric drug despite Schatzberg’s APA position.

Nemeroff, for his part, left Emory University in disgrace after a 2008 Congressional investigation unearthed $1.2 million in drug industry income, his $9 million NIH grant was terminated (a rare occurrence) and he was banned from further NIH grants for two years. But he resurfaced as head of the psychiatry department at the University of Miami in 2009 after the medical school dean, Pascal Goldschmidt, was assured by crony Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), that Nemeroff could still draw NIH money, according to the Chronicle of Higher Education. It was payback for when Nemeroff got Insel a job, say observers. Nemeroff still sits on NIH scientific panels reviewing others’ grant applications, ensuring further cronyism.

Ghostwriting, of course, solves the “Company-Says-Company’s-Product-Is-Great” problem and increases the chance of a paper’s publication in a journal. It helps “authors”‘ careers and may even spur their individual prescribing habits since studies show doctors prescribe more of a drug they are paid to promote.

But the consumer version, unbranded advertising, is also effective: radio and TV commercials posing as public service announcements that push “awareness” of diseases like ADHD, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS) or Excessive Sleepiness (ES) and drive worriers to sites where they can self-diagnose with simple quizzes.

Meanwhile, the consumer version of bought doctors is “Astroturf” or patient front groups like the “grassroots” National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), investigated by Congress for drug industry links. These bought patients flash mob the FDA with sob stories when an expensive drug is up for approval and lobby Medicaid to not substitute less expensive drugs, inflating entitlement program and insurance premium costs for industry’s benefit.

In the war against drug industry duplicity, company employees are increasingly reporting misdeeds thanks to provisions that entitle whistleblowers to 15 and even 30 percent of fraud settlement sums, in some cases. And last month the Justice Department filed the first criminal, not civil, charges against a the drug industry operative, Lauren Stevens, a former VP and assistant general counsel at GlaxoSmithKline. But as long as politicians like former Louisiana Rep. Billy Tauzin, who headed the industry trade group PhRMA, and former CDC director Julie Gerberding, now head of Merck vaccines, are willing to parlay a career’s worth of knowledge and relationships to sell product, the government is essentially fighting itself.

MARTHA ROSENBERG can be reached at: martharosenberg@sbcglobal.net

 

Martha Rosenberg is an investigative health reporter. She is the author of  Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health (Prometheus).

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
September 30, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Henry Giroux
Thinking Dangerously in the Age of Normalized Ignorance
Stanley L. Cohen
Israel and Academic Freedom: a Closed Book
Paul Craig Roberts – Michael Hudson
Can Russia Learn From Brazil’s Fate? 
Andrew Levine
A Putrid Election: the Horserace as Farce
Mike Whitney
The Biggest Heist in Human History
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Sick Blue Line
Vijay Prashad
In a Hall of Mirrors: Fear and Dislike at the Polls
Alexander Cockburn
The Man Who Built Clinton World
John Wight
Who Will Save Us From America?
W. T. Whitney
When Women’s Lives Don’t Matter
Jeremy Brecher
Dakota Access Pipeline and the Future of American Labor
Binoy Kampmark
Pictures Left Incomplete: MH17 and the Joint Investigation Team
Andrew Kahn
Nader Gave Us Bush? Hillary Could Give Us Trump
Steve Horn
Obama Weakens Endangered Species Act
Dave Lindorff
US Propaganda Campaign to Demonize Russia in Full Gear over One-Sided Dutch/Aussie Report on Flight 17 Downing
John W. Whitehead
Uncomfortable Truths You Won’t Hear From the Presidential Candidates
Ramzy Baroud
Shimon Peres: Israel’s Nuclear Man
Brandon Jordan
The Battle for Mercosur
Murray Dobbin
A Globalization Wake-Up Call
Jesse Ventura
Corrupted Science: the DEA and Marijuana
Andrew Sullivan
The Democratic Plot to Privatize Social Security
Daniel Borgstrom
On the Streets of Oakland, Expressing Solidarity with Charlotte
Marjorie Cohn
President Obama: ‘Patron’ of the Israeli Occupation
Norman Pollack
The “Self-Hating” Jew: A Critique
David Rosen
The Living Body & the Ecological Crisis
W. T. Whitney
When Women’s Lives Don’t Matter
Richard W. Behan
Hillary Clinton and Our Moribund Democracy
Joseph Natoli
Thoughtcrimes and Stupidspeak: Our Assault Against Words
Ron Jacobs
A Cycle of Death Underscored by Greed and a Lust for Power
Kim Nicolini
Long Drive Home
Art Martin
The Matrix Around the Next Bend: Facebook, Augmented Reality and the Podification of the Populace
Andre Vltchek
Failures of the Western Left
Laura Finley
Presidential Debate Recommendations
José Negroni
Mass Firings on Broadway Lead Singers to Push Back
Leticia Cortez
Entering the Historical Dissonance Surrounding Desafinados
Robert J. Burrowes
Gandhi: ‘My Life is My Message’
Charles R. Larson
Queen Lear? Deborah Levy’s “Hot Milk”
September 29, 2016
Robert Fisk
The Butcher of Qana: Shimon Peres Was No Peacemaker
James Rose
Politics in the Echo Chamber: How Trump Becomes President
Russell Mokhiber
The Corporate Vice Grip on the Presidential Debates
Daniel Kato
Rethinking the Race over Race: What Clinton Should do Now About ‘Super-Predators’
Peter Certo
Clinton’s Awkward Stumbles on Trade
Fran Shor
Demonizing the Green Party Vote
Rev. William Alberts
Trump’s Road Rage to the White House
Luke O'Brien
Because We Couldn’t Have Sanders, You’ll Get Trump
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail
[i]
[i]
[i]
[i]