Sunday, July 13, 2008

Psychiatry and the Pharmaceutical Industry

Congress is accusing the profession of Psychiatry and its leading organization, the American Psychiatric Association, of prostituting themselves to the pharmaceutical industry:

But now the profession itself is under attack in Congress, accused of allowing this relationship to become too cozy. After a series of stinging investigations of individual doctors’ arrangements with drug makers, Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, is demanding that the American Psychiatric Association, the field’s premier professional organization, give an accounting of its financing.

“I have come to understand that money from the pharmaceutical industry can shape the practices of nonprofit organizations that purport to be independent in their viewpoints and actions,” Mr. Grassley said Thursday in a letter to the association.

In 2006, the latest year for which numbers are available, the drug industry accounted for about 30 percent of the association’s $62.5 million in financing. About half of that money went to drug advertisements in psychiatric journals and exhibits at the annual meeting, and the other half to sponsor fellowships, conferences and industry symposiums at the annual meeting.

Here is the Consumerist's take on the issue:

Psychiatry is nothing more than a well-funded front for big pharma, according to lawmakers investigating the field's premier organization, the American Psychiatric Association. Unlike psychologists, psychiatrists can write prescriptions, giving pharmaceutical companies a powerful incentive to lavishly subsidize both their lifestyle and profession.
A psychiatrist's office is a "safe space," where it's ok to ask any question, including: "have you received any compensation from any drug company?"

My practice is mainly sleep medicine- largely osa and cpap. Unless you count hypnotics like Ambien and Lunesta (I typically start off with generic Ambien before trying Lunesta or Ambien CR), I prescribe less psychotropics than the typical internist and much less than the typical psychiatrist. I resigned my membership in the APA over a year ago. I am not in the pay of the pharmaceutical companies.

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