APA ghostwriting/COI scandal simmers quietly

Andrew Van Dam

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism, and he has blogged for Covering Health ever since.

For folks who have had trouble keeping up, MIWatch.org’s Phyllis Vine has pieced together a particularly readable roundup of where the American Psychiatric Association’s Nemeroff/Schatzberg/Glaxo ghostwriting controversy now stands.nemeroff

Alan Schatzberg (a former APA president) and Charles Nemeroff are, of course, prominent psychiatrists who, in 1999, put their names on the APA-published Recognition and Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders: A Psychopharmacology Handbook for Primary Care. Recent discoveries seem to show that the book, intended to teach primary care physicians about certain new pharmaceuticals, was actually penned by the ghostwriters over at Scientific Therapeutics Inc. Not only that, but the book was bankrolled by an unrestricted grant from the company that’s now GlaxoSmithKline. In other words, it’s double-decker scandal including both ghostwriting and conflicts of interest.

Though the news really hit the mainstream with Duff Wilson’s November 2010 piece in The New York Times, Vine also points out the dogged work of folks like Paul Thacker over at the Project on Government Oversight and others. Work which, Vine writes, has been met by a concerted APA stonewalling effort which appears to continue straight through to the present, despite many unanswered questions.

A MIWatch request to speak to someone about accusations of stonewalling was returned with an email signed by Ron McMillen and rehashing previous statements. His title, “CEO of the APA Office of Publishing Operations” was amended with the word “retired.”

In other words, while the scandal hasn’t gone away, the APA has thus far managed to keep it in a sort of holding pattern, presumably with the hope that it will soon complete its journey to the back burner.

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