A new video exposing the extensive conflicts of interest between the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the pharmaceutical industry was released today on a newly launched website, (www.psychconflicts.com), to coincide with the 161st anniversary of the APA and its annual convention being held in Washington, D.C. Widespread psychiatric drugging of children has become an increasingly contentious issue, with pharma-funded psychiatrists at the center of the controversy.
The psychiatric drugging of foster children in particular is now the subject of a May 8th congressional hearing. A study in the May issue of the journal Pediatrics, now garnering international attention, found that American children take antipsychotics at about six times the rate of UK children, while a January New York Times (NYT) investigation revealed that “the more psychiatrists have earned from drug makers, the more they have prescribed a new class of powerful medicines known as atypical antipsychotics to children.”
According to the psychiatric watchdog Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), which produced the new webpage and video, the soaring increase in psychotropic drugs to children is a result of the incestuous relationship between the APA and the pharmaceutical industry—totaling more than $10 million a year in conflicts of interest.
Today, about 30% of the APA’s income derives from pharmaceutical industry advertising and nearly 20 drug companies this year have invested an estimated $3 million into the APA’s convention alone. Of the nearly 30 pharmaceutical industry-supported symposiums, speakers’ fees could run as high as $250,000. The APA has also made an estimated $40 million from sales of its Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), an “insurance billing bible” that pharmaceutical interests potentially influence.
In 2006, a Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics study determined that 56% of psychiatrists on panels determining what “disorders” would be included in the DSM-IV had undisclosed financial interests in drug companies. Researchers also found that 100% of the psychiatrists on panels overseeing so-called “mood disorders” (which includes the lucrative “bipolar disorder”) and “schizophrenia/psychotic disorders” were financially involved with drug companies that manufacture the drugs prescribed for these conditions, the sales of which are around $40 billion a year worldwide.
Lisa Cosgrove, a clinical and research psychologist from the University of Massachusetts, Boston and co-researcher in the 2006 study reported that these disorders are not based on medical science: “No blood tests exist for the disorders in the DSM. It relies on judgments from practitioners who rely on the manual,” she stated.
Last December, U.S. News and World revealed that 19 out of the 27 task force members for DSM-V, due to be published in 2012, had financial ties to drug companies.
The January NYT investigation further found that psychiatrists earn more money from drug makers than doctors in any other specialty. In one state, Vermont, drug company payments to psychiatrists more than doubled from $20,835 in 2005 to an average of $45,692 in 2006. Antipsychotic drugs were among the largest expenses for the state’s Medicaid program. On September 4, 2007, the NYT reported, “Drug makers and company-sponsored psychiatrists have been encouraging doctors to look for [bipolar] disorder.” The expanded use of bipolar as a pediatric rather than adult disorder has made it the fastest-growing part of the $11.5 billion U.S. market for antipsychotics, reported Bloomberg News the next day.
Melissa Delbello, research psychiatrist with the University of Cincinnati who is speaking at the APA convention on May 7, was recently cited by Senator Charles Grassley for her failure to disclose to the university how much she had earned from pharmaceutical companies. In 2002, she was the lead author of a study that concluded that children responded well to the antipsychotic drug Seroquel, which is manufactured by AstraZeneca, one of the companies funding symposiums at the APA this year. She disclosed that she’d received $100,000 from the company between 2005 and 2007, but Senator Grassley discovered it was more than double that—$238,000.