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Letters to the Editor
APA, Pharma's Relationship
Psychiatric News
Volume 43 Number 20 page 25-25

The increased concern within organized medicine and organized psychiatry regarding financial conflicts of interest due to pharmaceutical company involvement and the efforts to do something about the issue will benefit our profession as well the general public in the long run. The recent coverage in the media about these financial conflicts of interest is overdue, and it especially relates to psychiatry. Use of psychiatric medication of certain types and in certain populations has been particularly called into question for some time.

As of July, the extensive financial involvement of psychiatry with the drug companies, even when it should be disengaged such as in the areas of research and professional education, started coming under the scrutiny of congressional investigation.

There are some good reasons that psychiatry should be looked on with greater suspicion than other fields of medicine. There are the relative lack of scientific objectivity and tests when it comes to diagnosis compared with other fields of medicine and the greater difficulty in measuring treatment outcomes. Also, there is the peculiar involvement of psychiatry in involuntary treatment, which makes any conflict of interest regarding drug treatment worse.

Whatever legitimate service is performed by some psychiatrists' involvement with the pharmaceutical industry, drug company involvement in organized psychiatry and psychiatric education is much more questionable.

An immediate step we should see happen, as APA members, is the elimination of pharmaceutical ads from Psychiatric News. From my standpoint, this is imperative and needs to be done by next year. I know the financial dependence on and involvement with drug companies of organized psychiatry, psychiatric publications, and psychiatric education have been so extensive that it will not be easy to disengage, but I do think that for the APA dues we pay (and even at the reduced dues I pay as a life member), we should expect at a minimum that our professional society newspaper be free of any actual or perceived drug company bias.

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