The Business of Medication: Study Finds Corruption in APA Panel Members

It is the cry of many seasoned psychotherapists and potential clients alike that the United States is becoming alarmingly dependent on medication for a wide variety of issues that can be addressed with healthier alternatives. The medical industry in particular is riddled with professionals who seem keen on providing a pill for every complaint, and with people who simply swallow their worries away. Some may have suspected that certain individuals in the psychiatry business have been promoting and over-prescribing medications for a more pernicious reason than simple difference of opinion. The idea that some medical providers achieve financial gain through their promotion of drugs has been around for a while, but has lacked concrete and widespread evidence. This month, the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics will include a fairly definitive, and fairly shocking, study of this precise issue, revealing how serious the problem really is.

The study was performed by a trio of academics from the University of Massachusetts Boston, Tufts University, and Harvard Medical School, and delivers solid evidence of professionals using their financial ties with pharmaceutical companies to push the industry’s agenda. The study focuses on those panel members of the American Psychological Association who helped to write the guidelines for treatment of depression, bipolar, and schizophrenia. The researchers pored through publicly accessible information sources to discover financially-based relationships between the panelists and pharmaceutical companies. They found that 18 of the 20 members had at least one financial link, whether in the form of direct payment for research, speaking fees, special grants, consulting, or stock ownership. Though the APA now requires panelists to publish their financial ties, the rule was not in effect when the guidelines for these three issues—which bring in more than $25 billion per year for pharmaceutical companies—were written and published.

In a rapidly growing world with rapidly evolving difficulties faced by people striving to find happiness amid the duties and downfalls of life, such dishonesty—especially at a high level—has the potential to be monumentally disastrous. This month’s study goes a long way toward helping to expose possible corruption in the industry and promote transparency in an effort to help people receive better care.

© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Hank


    May 15th, 2009 at 11:20 AM

    Sad that the same people we have left in charge of our health let free dinners and other perks get in the way of doing what is best for their patients

  • Natalie


    May 18th, 2009 at 1:49 AM

    It is sad and i think the patients should come first

  • Jenna


    May 19th, 2009 at 5:44 AM

    Working in the medical field I have had the chance to witness first hand just how corrupt members of this community can become. For many of them it is all about the samples and the gifts and the entire medical staffs that they employ starts to but into all of that too. It gets really out of hand when doctors and staff are being rewarded with things like parties and trips for being “pushers” of the latest new drugs for pharmaceutical companies. This is a big reason why I am so ready to get into something completely different because it just stinks to high heaven to me.

  • Madeleine


    May 20th, 2009 at 5:15 AM

    Even knowing deep down inside that these kinds of things happen it still shocks me to read about brand new stories. Who do these people think they are playing around with our lives like this? Mental health and health care in general is and should be about so much more than the almighty dollar and yet this just goes to show that for a great majority of the movers and shakers and those in control it is not. Cash is still king and the American public are the ones who are really getting hard by all of this nonsense! And it is easy to sit back and say that things have got to change but I think that all of us get to a point where we really just have no idea of how to make that kind of change happen. It seems that the rich still get rich and the rest of us just have to continue to get by the best we know how.

  • Ted


    May 21st, 2009 at 2:30 AM

    I always wonder why physicians recommend tests just to rule out something. I recently discovered that the patient is bled dry for interpretation charges. A lot of corruption is actually allowed by the system. Nothing is transparent anyway and the patient always feels like he/she got a bad deal.

  • Barbara


    May 21st, 2009 at 3:51 AM

    You would think that out of every group in the world this would be one that was devoted to avoiding this kind of corruption but evidently that is not the case. And are these really the people now that we want safeguarding our mental health?

  • Jordan


    May 22nd, 2009 at 2:01 AM

    My cousin died while on a safari in Africa. We still recall the nightmare we all went through to get his body back home. Lots of paper work and greasing the palms. I definitely know for certain that the medical profession is possibly more corrupt than politics.

  • kenneth


    May 26th, 2009 at 2:51 AM

    I think corruption in the medical fraternity is the last place one should find it. I hope the law has stringent rules regarding this.

  • Tina


    May 26th, 2009 at 8:08 PM

    I am a doctor and I found this very disturbing. Are these results published? If so where can we find them?

  • Renee


    May 27th, 2009 at 3:02 AM

    I think too many doctors wants to provide tests, even if they know that its not needed, just to make that extra money. For once, why can’t the doctors think about the patients, there well being and quit trying to make that extra buck.

  • Dina


    June 22nd, 2009 at 2:38 PM

    I hate the fact you have to go through the paperwork, the questions, do you have insurance and someone can be standing there in front of them almost dying and all they care is; “getting info” can’t this wait til after the patient has been taken care of.

  • Jessica


    August 25th, 2009 at 2:10 PM

    I was just emailed a link to a new blogger’s posts describing his/her horror’s with the medical care provided today. I’ve had my share of bad experiences, but some people are really getting the worst of the worst. The site was: .

    Though the blog has only so far touched on physical problems, apparently the same problem mentioned here exists if not to a greater extent in the realm of physical medicine. The email also suggests the author has had similar/worse experiences with attempts at therapy as well.

    Something should be done.

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Title   Content   Author is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, medical treatment, or therapy. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding any mental health symptom or medical condition. Never disregard professional psychological or medical advice nor delay in seeking professional advice or treatment because of something you have read on