Big Pharma Worse Than I Thought

And I already thought it was pretty bad. More from Furious Seasons about a great Slate article exposing another group of doctors and scientists that are on the take from Big Pharma companies like Glaxo Smith Kline, Eli Lilly, Pfizer, and Novartis.

What's most disturbing is that these guys structure the DSM, which determine diagnoses and recommended treatments for mental illnesses. And their influence is huge - WNYC's "Infinite Mind" recently aired a show called "Prozac Nation Revisited" with its host, Fred Goodwin. The goal of this show was for Dr. Goodwin and his guests to quell the "overblown" fear that there is a link between antidepressants and suicide. Here's the disturbing part:

"All four of the experts on the show, including Goodwin, have financial ties to the makers of antidepressants. Also unmentioned were the "unrestricted grants" that The Infinite Mind has received from drug makers, including Eli Lilly, the manufacturer of the antidepressant Prozac."
"The second guest on "Prozac Nation," Andrew F. Leuchter, is a professor of psychiatry at UCLA who has received research money from drug companies including Eli Lilly Inc., Pfizer, and Novartis. The third guest, Nada Stotland, president-elect of the American Psychiatric Association, has served on the speakers' bureaus of GlaxoSmithKline and Pfizer. None of Leuchter and Stotland's ties to industry was revealed to listeners—instead, each was introduced as a prominent academic."
How can it be this bad? It's just getting harder and harder to trust scientific experts anymore. I know I must sound like a creationist here, but the science community has really been showing its holes lately. It is as susceptible to bias and corruption as politics. The danger of that is that science is supposed to be this impenetrable fortress of truth. And while it's the closest thing we have to that, it gets consumed by the public as unquestioned gospel. We seem to exist in an age of scientific zealotry - just quote a peer-reviewed study, and theory becomes fact.

It's a tricky gray area because it leaves established and monumentally important truths like evolution vulnerable to attack by indoctrinated religious thinkers. But when it comes to amorphous ideas like depression and consciousness, the "facts" are very malleable and susceptible to manipulation - especially when it's part of the mutli-billion dollar antidepressant industry.

It just doesn't seem like the standard, reductionist approach towards a true understanding of human consciousness and mental illness is going to suffice. For now, mental illness is just a ripe marketplace for corporate interest. Not to say there haven't been advances - there are some great therapists and psychiatrists out there (though few and far between it seems). Otherwise, we've just been grasping at straws (or ice picks). The solution to this problem is in dire need of a paradigm shift.

Major kudos to the writers of the Slate article,

(Interesting tidbit, I can't find Infinite Mind on WNYC)

No comments: