While it’s tempting to be sarcastic about these two winter CME programs coming from the hallowed halls of ivy, there’s nothing humorous about this story. Over half of Senator Grassley’s list of payola non-reporters, several from Paul Thacker’s POGO expose of ghost-writing, the alumni from the Pediatric Bipolar debacle, three recently censured by Harvard itself, and several with a rap sheets too long to even list [they may as well have added the people from TMAP/CMAP to round out their programs]. Forgoing sarcasm, how about irony: Alan Schlatzberg posing the question "Do antidepressants work?" followed by Charles Nemeroff discussing the neurobiology of when they don’t?; Joseph Biederman moderating a panel on ethics?; Karen Wagner [of Paxil Study 329] on Juvenile Depression and Janet Wozniak [Ms. Bioplar Child] on Juvenile Mania.
On the face of things, this seems like the theater of the absurd – a skit from Saturday Night Live, The Onion, or The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. But it’s not. It’s a testimony to inertia – the inertia of PHARMA’s investment in Psychiatry, the inertia of the power base in Psychiatry, the inertia of psychiatrists accepting their delegated plight as medication managers – an inertia created by money. "This program has no industry support" matters little in that it is followed on the flyer by, "Register early, this course SOLD OUT 5 weeks before the course began last year!!" And one wonders how many of the people in the audience paying to be there know the story behind the faculties of these CME presentations?