The pharmaceutical industry is a major financial supporter of psychiatric education in this country; without their money most departments could not afford the costs of their training programs. The result of this interdependent relationship has been the gradual movement of psychiatry into a specialty that now explains its successes and failures only in terms of brain biology and seeks to develop drugs that minimize all symptomatic behaviors. Many training programs no longer teach psychotherapy.
We are becoming a specialty of psychopharmacologists prescribing drugs that have been inadequately tested, are often ineffective, harmful, and have deadly side effects, and whose long-term impact we know nothing about.
Big Pharma encourages early release of new drugs, the publication of only positive results, and unapproved off-label uses. which results in massive healthcare fraud. In July 2012 Glaxo SmithKline made the largest health care fraud settlement in US history when they agreed to pay a $3 billion fine for illegally promoting antidepressants for use in children and adolescents, making many sicker. Weeks ago, Janssen Pharmaceuticals (a Johnson & Johnson Company) was fined $1.6 billion for making false claims about the use of their anti-psychotic drug Risperdal as a treatment for agitation in demented elderly patients, even though it was not approved for such use.
Will these abuses change psychiatric training and practice? I think not; this announcement recently appeared in Psychiatric Times. Rutgers Medical School Department of Psychiatry in partnership with Otsuka/America Pharmaceutical has created a year-long Fellowship for an “early career psychiatrist” interested in gaining experience in the design and execution of clinical trials, participating in industry team meetings relating to clinical and regulatory issues, writing publications and participating in product development.
This is just more sophisticated psychiatric pimping by Big Pharma, who are defining psychiatry and psychiatrists as drug merchants for diseases whose causes we can’t explain, and that often have deadly side effects. We must stop labeling unacceptable feelings and behaviors as mental illnesses.
Don’t get sucked in by relentless pharmaceutical marketing that says if you are feeling anything other than wonderful in every moment that you might have a disease for which there is a pill. This strategy has resulted in 25% of all Americans being diagnosed as mentally ill.
We would eliminate 90% of the mental illness and massive over-prescribing of drugs if we eliminated direct to consumer marketing by pharmaceutical companies.