CJR piece blasts depression documentary and the Peabody given to it

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Paul Scott writes about the documentary, “Depression: Out of the Shadows,” which won a Peabody Award.

He criticizes that “its broad survey of the science of the illness included frequent appearances by Charles Nemeroff, M.D., a leading–some say powerful–mood disorders researcher from Emory University. Last fall, Nemeroff also became one of the most prominent psychiatrists to be rebuked for failing to disclose funds earned from the drug industry.” …

The heart of his critique, though, is this:

“That PBS producers either did not know about Nemeroff’s drug industry entanglements or did not believe they tainted his discussion of the science of depression is disappointing. Indeed, the science of the illness and antidepressant medications is far less uniformly agreed upon than is depicted in the documentary. Disputes are ongoing over the efficacy, mechanism of action, and “targeted” nature of antidepressants–blockbuster drugs that remain the recipient of favorable press coverage even while now going off patent.

But what made the praise bestowed on this PBS documentary particularly troubling were the erroneous, drug-industry serving statements made by Nemeroff within the film–statements which had the potential to negatively affect public health, and which the documentary left unchallenged.”

Read the entire piece.

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Health Guide

June 25, 2009 at 9:59 am

I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.


June 25, 2009 at 1:30 pm

I think it’s in PBS’s best interest to do one of 2 things:
1. Add a disclaimer to the beginning of the video to warn others that Nemeroff’s words may be tainted becuase of his entanglement in the drug industry.
2. Add an additional doctor’s viewpoint to the documentary to challenge the erroneous, drug-industry serving statements made by Nemeroff within the film.
Do you think this would make a difference Gary?

Paul Raeburn

June 26, 2009 at 8:28 am

Here’s a comment I left on the CJR post, if you want it:
I wouldn’t defend Nemeroff. But you don’t offer a remedy. Should journals refuse to publish studies by Nemeroff and the like?
Psychiatric research is notoriously underfunded. The National Institute of Mental Health does a handful of expensive, important studies, but the overwhelming majority of studies are paid for by drug companies. Virtually all psychiatrist researchers take money from drug companies because it is the only money available.
Our choice, sadly, is largely between drug-company-linked research, and no research. As someone who’s written about personal experiences with mental illness in the family, I’ll take any research over none.
The solution is vastly more government funding for psychiatric research. A trillion-dollars stimulus bill for mental health research could arguably do much more for the country than a bailout of the banks. But I don’t expect that view to prevail.
In the meantime, I’ll take drug-company-funded studies.
And you’re wrong about one thing: Antidepressants have now been proven to work. They have side-effects, as all drugs do, but they are far superior to what preceded them: millions of people getting no treatment at all.
Paul Raeburn


June 26, 2009 at 10:30 am

I didn’t see the documentary. Sounds like they are pushing drugs though. It’s a shame that that is what all doctors are becoming. Drug pushers. Go fill this prescriptions, take 2 pills before each meal and see me in a month. They don’t ask about your habits, like nutrition, fitness, job, stress, family life. Most things can be cured by getting to the root of what caused the illness. Pushing drugs is so much easier for them. I think they get a cut or something. They are killing us. Anti this, anti that drugs are not good for the body and most are addictive & liver killers.