Psychiatrists On the Take? No way!(?)

“It’s important that our potential patients and their family members know we’re above reproach in terms of undue influence by Big Pharma.”

That statement was made by Dr. Emil Coccaro, chair of the University of Chicago’s Department of Psychiatry. Oh, and he’s also a recipient of National Institutes of Health grants.

Now, I don’t know Dr. Cocarro, so I can’t make any judgments regarding his ethics history. Maybe he was always “above reproach” when it came to the influence of Big Pharma. However, a whole bunch of his colleagues sure weren’t – and aren’t.

Psychiatric ethics came to the fore with the comments of Dr. Thomas Insel, who heads the National Institute of Mental Health, in last week’s Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The gist of what he had to say was psychiatrists in the Good ‘Ole USofA need to separate themselves from what he called a “culture of influence” created by certain “financial dealings.”

Hmmm, from whom do you suppose our psychiatrists need to keep their distance? That’s right, Big Pharma – the money-hungry scoundrels who spend millions and millions trying to get you and me to buy-in to high-cost med regimens.

Now, then – Dr. Insel doesn’t run the table by calling psychiatric researchers, who receive a large portion of their funding from Big Pharma, “crooks.” And he doesn’t suggest they stop taking money.

Um, but he does step up to the plate and announce there’s a “bias in prescribing practices.” And it’s this bias that leads to favoring brand name drugs over generic, as well as directing patients toward brand name psychotropics without even a mention of efficacious non-drug treatments.

Insel, by the way, calls non-drug treatments “woefully underused.”

Okay, ready for a chuckle? Insel uses an all too casually used term, which ranks right up there with the crocodile-teared “I’m sorrys” offered up by bad behaving celebrities, athletes, and politicians …


Yes, he’s calling for a full disclosure of psychiatry’s relationship with Big Pharma. Does that make you want to hurl or what? And he goes on to pound his chest, as he issues a call to action for psychiatry to show the rest of the medical crooks how to clean up their act.

All I can say is, I’ll believe it when I see it.

What’s somewhat hopeful is Dr. Insel now has support for his transparency campaign. See, the new health care reform bill requires Big Pharma, and others, to report the details of their cash-ties to physicians. And, thankfully, that includes entertainment, gifts, research dough, and all sorts of other goodies.

By the way, it’s called the “sunshine” provision and it also mandates the creation of a public database so you and I can see what our docs are up to. I’ll believe this when I see it, as well.

In closing, I’ll offer up this disturbing reality…

90% of the advisers who help write American Psychiatric Association guidelines had Big Pharma cash skeletons in their closets.

Think about it, the very people we trust with our emotional, mental, and physical welfare are on the take. And even more sad, I’d be willing to wager many of these crooks have somehow rationalized what they’re doing as being in their patient’s best interest.

Hey, I’m apolitical as can be and want no part of the horribly ugly and greed-centered public debate over health care reform. But can you at least see what’s at stake for those trying to maintain the status quo?

Oh, they and theirs will disguise it as an effort to protect our rights and thwart socialism. See, they know that’ll get the public all up in arms.

But the fact of the matter is, they have only one bit of protection on their minds and in their hearts. And that’s their bank accounts.

Please chime in with your comments. We’d love to know what you think.