AlterNet | RS_News | June 24 2012
An interview with David Healy, an expert witness in homicide, suicide and birth defect legal actions involving psychotropic drugs.
OPINION ~ David Healy is a Professor of Psychiatry at Bangor University. He is a former Secretary of the British Association for Psychopharmacology, and author of over 175 peer reviewed articles, 200 other pieces and 20 books, including The Antidepressant Era, and The Creation of Psychopharmacology from Harvard University Press,The Psychopharmacologists Volumes 1-3, Let Them Eat Prozac, Mania, & Pharmageddon. He has been involved as an expert witness in homicide, suicide and birth defect legal actions involving psychotropic drugs, and in bringing problems with these drugs to the attention of American and British regulators, as well raising awareness of how pharmaceutical companies sell drugs by marketing diseases and co-opting academic opinion-leaders, ghostwriting their articles.
Rosenberg: Your new book, Pharmageddon, gives a bleak picture of the doctored data, skewed drug trials and rigged treatment guidelines that characterize today’s pharmaceutical industry. Many people will be shocked to learn the abuses are not limited to the US, where direct-to-consumer advertising is legal, but found in Europe.
Healy: The situation is identical. Pharma actually finds socialized health care systems easier to exploit. And despite direct-to-consumer advertising, more money is spent on marketing to doctors who are the real consumers. They are also pressured by the treatment guidelines process which is based on “evidence” that Pharma makes sure to keep secret so they are really in the dark, though they may not realize it.
Rosenberg: One example you give of Pharma’s reach and power is the eerie symmetry between the Texas Medication Algorithm Project (TMAP), conceptualized and funded by US Pharma, and Britain’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE).
Healy: Despite their public/private differences, both organizations recommend the use of branded antipsychotics like Risperdal, Zyprexa and Seroquel before the use of older, affordable antipsychotics which of course enriches Pharma. One of the otherissues is this-there is a new bill aimed at speeding up the FDA approval process yet again-and also getting regulators to take into account the jobs that come with a strong pharmaceutical sector. Both America and Europe have been keen to keep their companies happy and have turned a blind eye to the outsourcing of clinical trials to Asia and Eastern Europe.