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Published on 29 May 2008

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Propaganda affects scrip habits

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The prescription habits of psychiatrists are strongly influenced by pharmaceutical “propaganda”, a leading expert in the field has claimed.

Psychiatrist David Healy, writing in the latest issue of Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, was commenting on a paper by Harvard researchers which looked at the psychology of risk and prescriptions of psychotropic drugs.

He said the current “crisis” in psychiatry stemmed from a combination of a lack of independent study, a lack of independent access to what data are available, and an “unsophisticated” interpretation of that data.

He said it was important that clinicians understand the dynamics that impinge on their judgement as it is “almost certainly the case” that pharmaceutical companies engineer clinical perceptions based on side-effect profiles.

He gave as an example the combined data from all randomised placebo-controlled trials of antidepressants recently published by the US Government’s Food and Drug Administration body, whose figures show that 50% of subjects respond to active treatment and 40% respond to placebo.

Clinicians regularly take such data to indicate that these drugs work, Mr Healy said, when the data suggest that 80% of those apparently responding to an antidepressant would have responded to placebo, and only 10% of people have a specific response to active treatment.

Copyright © PA Business 2008

Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics

Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

“Yes! They don’t often question what they are taught by pharmaceutical company professors.” – Leslie Feldman, California

“No. They are just under much more scrutiny than in the past.” – Name and location supplied

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