Connecting the dots between online self-screening-tests and pharma funding

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Psychiatrist Daniel Carlat, on his terrific blog, raises questions – just as Senator Chuck Grassley is doing – about a WebMD TV commercial that leads viewers to take an online depression screening test. The test was funded by Eli Lilly–information that was apparently omitted from the TV commercial.

Screen shot 2010-03-01 at 3.44.26 PM.pngCarlat says the WebMD test takes the DSM-4 list of nine possible symptoms of depression, but adds a tenth:

“I’m having frequent headaches, stomach problems, muscle pain, or back problems.Yes or No”

Carlat believes that happens, as he writes:

“Because Lilly markets Cymbalta as the “go to” antidepressant for patients who have both depression and physical pain. This is not really a “depression screening test” at all. Instead, it is a “Cymbalta-requester” screening test.

WebMD is telling the public a big lie. The say that “this content is selected and controlled by WebMD’s editorial staff” when in fact the crucial aches and pains questions was selected by Eli Lilly’s marketing team to encourage patients to ask their doctors for Cymbalta.”

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