the campaign…

Posted on Friday 29 June 2012

I have no interest in whipping a dead horse, but this one won’t die. In February, Robert Gibbons, a Biostatistician from Chicago published a meta-analysis online saying that SSRIs were not associated with suicidality in children and adolescents – in opposition to the FDA’s black box warning of 2004:
Suicidal Thoughts and Behavior With Antidepressant Treatment
Reanalysis of the Randomized Placebo-Controlled Studies of Fluoxetine and Venlafaxine
by Robert D. Gibbons, PhD; C. Hendricks Brown, PhD; Kwan Hur, PhD; John M. Davis, MD; and J. John Mann, MD
Archives of General Psychiatry. Published online February 6, 2012.
I filled this blog with posts arguing with his conclusions which I won’t rehash [an anatomy of a deceit 1…]. Ever since that Black Box Warning was issued, it has been attacked:
The publication of that article was followed by what seemed like a media splash to me:
This in no way exhausts the coverage but hits the high points. A month later, Gibbons published a second article from his meta-analysis with yet another startling conclusion – that antidepressants were very effective in children and adolescents:
Benefits From Antidepressants:
Synthesis of 6-Week Patient-Level Outcomes From Double-blind Placebo-Controlled Randomized Trials of Fluoxetine and Venlafaxine
by Robert D. Gibbons, PhD; Kwan Hur, PhD; C. Hendricks Brown, PhD; John M. Davis, MD; and J. John Mann, MD
Archives of General Psychiatry. Published online March 5, 2012.
My letter to the Archives of General Psychiatry was rejected for publication in the Journal [an anatomy of a deceit 4…, an anatomy of a deceit 5…], as were several others penned by more expert hands.

I’ve never seen an article [one that was not even yet published in the Journal itself] receive so much immediate publicity and so I called it a campaign. But then yesterday, our attention was drawn by Tom to the Grand Rounds schedule in the Psychiatry Department at the University of Miami, new home of the infamous Dr. Charles Nemeroff – and there was Dr. Robert Gibbons giving a Grand Rounds presentation called Do Antidepressants work and do they cause suicide?. Then I looked at the date – February 20, 2012! So, in this case, he’s presenting the results from both studies before the second one was even available online! I can reach no other conclusion than that this Grand Rounds presentation was also part of the media campaign to debunk the FDA’s Black Box Warning, and that it is being somehow orchestrated by sponsors unknown. It’s not lost on us that this Grand Rounds was at Dr. Nemeroff’s Department, suggesting two things to me – PHARMA, and that Dr. Nemeroff is still in the game. Recall that Dr. Nemeroff was an early nay-sayer about the Black Box Warning [Impact of Publicity Concerning Pediatric Suicidality Data on Physician Practice Patterns in the United States]. Things never change, it seems…

Hat Tip to Tom 
    June 30, 2012 | 4:17 PM

    We might surmise that after all these years of conferring with pharma marketing people, research psychiatrists now know how to roll out a new idea and get a lot of coverage for it.

    Jeff C
    July 1, 2012 | 3:57 PM

    Ever get the feeling you’re Neo after he took the red pill in the movie The Matrix? Those of us that have had family members suffer serious adverse reactions from pharma’s “life-saving” products have been down the rathole for quite some time. Fair warning, the further you go the more you find. The more you speak out, the more you will be attacked. I hope you have a strong stomach.

    Pharma’s game plan is simple:
    1) Manipulate the corrupt peer-review system to promote studies that overstate the effectiveness of your product. (prime example – ghostwriting)
    2) Discredit studies or stories that question product safety. Defame critics of your product. (Your post highlights a perfect coordinated example. Have you been attacked on Scienceblogs as a nutty Scientologist yet? If not, it’s coming.)
    3) Through lobbying and outright bribery, pass laws and regulations that require public agencies to purchase and individuals to consume your product. (That is why psychotropics are a targeted market, those with “mental illness” can be easily compelled by the state to take the product. Some people need to be forced to do what is good for them, you see.)
    4) Shift product liability from industry to the state. (We are not here yet with psychotropics, but this one is coming.)

    Please keep up the good work and continue to dig. What you describe aren’t isolated incidents but a clear pattern that we’ve seen before. If nothing else, pharma is predictable.

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