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From the President
Feelings About Pharma
Psychiatric News
Volume 43 Number 19 page 3-3

In the September 5 Psychiatric News, I described APA's response to Sen. Charles Grassley's request for information about every kind of revenue that APA has received from the pharmaceutical industry, and I asked for your opinions. (Unfortunately, the APA members-only Web site link to the cover letter that accompanied the 50-page report to Sen. Grassley, which outlines the issues and the contents, was not functional at the time of that column; you can read that letter now at<http://psych.org/MainMenu/Newsroom/APAMemberDBSAResources/GrassleyLetter.aspx>. I heard from many of you. This is not a random sample; probably those with the strongest feelings took the time to write. Nevertheless, the messages reflect the wide range of attitudes among our members. I thought I would give you a sampling from those messages. Although these were not confidential communications, members were not advised that their messages might be printed, and therefore I have omitted their names. I have also corrected the occasional typographical error.

A few members expressed indignation over what they considered to be prejudicial and unwarranted criticism of psychiatrists and APA.

The predominant view is reflected in the following quotes:

"I am dismayed that so many colleagues I know rely on 'free' CME courses, feel entitled to gifts from industry, continue to believe they prescribe without bias....

"Let's go back to training ourselves.... The ties to industry were the most important reason why I did not belong to the APA for almost 20 years ... and I joined back up when I saw that the APA was moving away from that position."

Several members urged moderation. For example, two messages reminded us to consider context.

One message asserted that the profit motive is part of human nature, that physicians are not immune, and that medicine's relationships with pharma can be beneficial.

Another writer saw the situation as an opportunity to broaden, or perhaps refresh, our vision:

Thanks to everyone who wrote. I am proud, but not surprised, that every message focused on the welfare of our patients. I am heartened that many of you think APA is heading in the right direction. Our healthy self-examination preceded any inquiry from outside. As one member proclaimed:

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