Who You Gonna Believe? American Psychiatric Association & Ghostwriting

Paul Thacker, an investigator with the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), writes:

The blogosphere lit up with several posts on the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) refusal to print a letter critical of a medical textbook they published with help from the ghostwriting company Scientific Therapeutics Information.

We covered it at POGO here ,and Dr. Bernard Carroll wrote about it over at Health Care Renewa. Dr. Carroll hints that other documents may throw more light on the controversial textbook.

“…documents may well be available if they could be unsealed in pending litigation. Naturally, corporations and their attorneys strive to keep the information hidden. But our general point is that the APA has a different duty – which is to transparency rather than to stonewalling. Did the APA do that? Sadly, no, they did not.”

Author and journalism professor Alison Bass writes on her blog that APA’s refusal to publish the letter smacks of “censorship.”

How sad. Can it be that the APA is so fearful of its members’ reactions (or more likely, legal threats by Nemeroff and Schatzberg) that it cannot even run a short and well-reasoned letter to the editor? For an organization that represents a profession whose very modus operandi is based on disclosure and transparency, the APA’s track record of censorship and secrecy is unacceptable.

Meanwhile, Dr. Danny Carlat writes that the whole affair is like a bad penny that just won’t go away.

“I don’t think this issue is going away. It’s time for the APA to prove to the world that they were not complicit with a drug company in publishing a “textbook” that artfully hid Paxil’s side effects.”

Ed Silverman has a wrap up piece over at Pharmalot, with links to all the blogs published thus far. A reader named “Casper” commented at the end, “I loves the APA.”

On a more serious note, concern about ghostwriting has truly gone global. Canada’s leading law school at the University of Toronto in conjunction with the university’s Centre for Ethics is hosting a one day conference on the topic in early May.

The meeting is being organized by Associate Professor Trudo Lemmens and will feature an international panel of experts including myself from POGO, Carl Elliot from the U. of Minnesota, Adriane Fugh-Berman of Georgetown, David Healy from Cardiff, and David Korn of Harvard.

You can find the full agenda at this site (pdf file).

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