Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Drug Companies' Influence in Psychiatry Pervasive, Experts Say

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Drug Companies' Influence in Psychiatry Pervasive, Experts Say

Article excerpt

TORONTO -- Psychiatrists should be very concerned about the influence pharmaceutical companies wield in their field, and in medicine as a whole, two psychiatrists said in presentations at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association.

The pharmaceutical industry has been encroaching with greater influence in continuing medical education, said Dr. Daniel J. Carlat, a psychiatrist in private practice in Newburyport, Mass., and editor of the Carlat Psychiatry Report, a newsletter that contains no advertising.

Despite a decision last year by the American Academy of Continuing Medical Education to strengthen the rules governing industry support of CME, industry continues to increase its investment in accredited symposia and materials, he said. In 1998, industry provided $302 million worth of CME support, 33% of the total spent. By 2002, that figure had become $1.1 billion, 52% of the total spent. Currently, it is estimated that industry supports 57% of all CME.

Dr. Carlat said he recently conducted an experiment with CME materials.

He randomly selected 15 CME-accredited articles out of all the accredited materials received by his office between August 2005 and May 2006. He then counted the number of statements made that were favorable or unfavorable about a drug.

Each article contained an average of 13 favorable comments about a drug made by the sponsoring company and an average of 2.2 favorable statements about competing drugs, for a "pro-bias" ratio of 6. Rating the articles blindly, Dr. Carlat was able to guess the sponsorship of each publication in 14 of 15 articles.

In Dr. Carlat's opinion, these findings mean the CME providers "are out of compliance with ACCME standards. I think the drug companies and medical education companies need to get busy with something else or they are going to lose their accreditation. …

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