The first week in May brought a new leader in France and new prospects for same sex couples seeking marriage. But at the American Psychiatric Association’s annual meeting in Philadelphia, attended by 11,000 psychiatrists, it was the same old same old. Instead of listening to the public outcry about overmedicated children, soldiers, elderly and everyday people watching too many drug ads, the psychiatry group re-affirmed its resolve to pathologize healthy people on behalf of its big brother, Big Pharma.
This is the year the APA puts the finishing touches on DSM-5, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a compendium that determines what treatments insurers will cover, what disorders merit funding as “public health” threats and of course, Pharma marketing and profits. Some question the objectivity of a disorder manual written by those who stand to benefit from an enlarged patient pool and new diseases. Furthering the appearance of self-dealing is the revelation that 57 percent of the DSM-5′s authors have Pharma links.
No kidding. Scheduled presenters at this year’s meeting included former APA president Alan F. Schatzberg, MD and Charles Nemeroff, MD, both investigated by Congress for murky Pharma income. Nemeroff’s $9.3 million National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant to study depression was suspended, which happens rarely, when the government found out he had simultaneously taken $1.2 million from the antidepressant Paxil manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline, Nemeroff. Oops. But now he is again basking in taxpayer money, recently awarded a $2 million five-year grant from the NIMH to study the “prospective determination of psychobiological risk factors of post-traumatic stress disorder.” Would should the government hold a grudge?