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 GoodTherapy.org.
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