"To ghostwrite an entire textbook is a new level of chutzpah"

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That’s what former FDA commissioner Dr. David Kessler said about the book, “Recognition and Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders: A Psychopharmacology Handbook for Primary Care,” which listed as co-authors Drs. Charles B. Nemeroff and Alan F. Schatzberg.

But, as the New York Times reports, the “authors” acknowledged in the preface of the book they had received an “unrestricgted educational grant from a major drug company. The Times continues:

“But the drug maker, then known as SmithKline Beecham, actually had much more involvement than the book described, newly disclosed documents show. The grant paid for a writing company to develop the outline and text for the two named authors, the documents show, and then the writing company showed three drafts directly to the pharmaceutical company for comments and “sign-off” and showed page proofs for “final approval.”

“That doesn’t sound unrestricted to me,” Dr. Bernard Lo, a medical ethicist and chairman of an Institute of Medicine group that wrote a 2009 report on conflicts of interest, said after reviewing the documents. “That sounds like they have ultimate control.”

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Comments (8)

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Michael Kirsch, M.D.

November 30, 2010 at 9:43 am

I agree, it sounds spooky, but in fairness, the authors have a different view, as noted toward the final paragraphs of the Times’ piece.

Andrew Holtz

November 30, 2010 at 10:53 am

Here’s the link to the Project on Government Oversight report that was the basis for the NYTimes story:

Beth Casteel

December 9, 2010 at 10:46 am

I am with the press office at the American Psychiatric Association.
Dr. Kessler’s comments were taken out of context in The New York Times, and by taking them further out of context you have exaggerated what was already a serious error. Please correct your content accordingly. The POGO report contains errors as well.
Here is the correction from the New York Times from December 8, 2010:
A headline on Nov. 30 with an article about SmithKline Beecham’s role in the publication of a book about treating psychiatric disorders overstated SmithKline’s actions. While documents show that SmithKline (now known as GlaxoSmithKline) hired a writing company for the book, they do not indicate that the company wrote the book for the authors, Dr. Charles B. Nemeroff and Dr. Alan F. Schatzberg. The article also described incorrectly, in some editions, events outlined in a letter from the writing company to Dr. Nemeroff. The correspondence proposed a timeline for the writing company to furnish the doctors and SmithKline with draft text and final page proofs for approval; the letter did not say that the company had already provided those materials for final approval. And the article misstated the context under which Dr. David A. Kessler, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, commented about the book’s production. The letter and other documents were described to him; he did not personally review the documents.

Mark K

December 10, 2010 at 12:35 pm

Dr. Carlat has analyzed the book that Drs. Nemeroff and Schatzberg “wrote.” Dr. Carlat concludes that it’s an advertisement for Paxil.