Is psychiatry for sale?
Posted Monday 17 November 2003
National conference investigates the controversial relationship between psychiatry and the pharmaceutical industry
Mind today (17 Nov 2003) co-hosts a groundbreaking conference Is Psychiatry for Sale which will examine the complex and fascinating relationship between drug companies and psychiatry. Today's conference is designed to explore these issues further to a broad audience of mental health professionals, GPs and individuals. The conference is being co-hosted with Critical Psychiatry and Pavillion.
Recent developments played out in the media have focussed the spotlight increasingly on this sometimes-uneasy yet necessary liaison.
For example, over the last decade we have seen a large increase in the prescription of all anti-depressants, and the newer type called SSRIs including Seroxat and Prozac, which have been more heavily marketed have seen an extraordinary rise of over 700 per cent (*1).
These prescription figures continue to rocket despite increasing concerns over the safety and side-affects associated with several of these drugs. Earlier this year two leading SSRI anti-depressants were banned for use in under 18s because of fears about side-affects (*2).
Mind has been particularly critical of how clinical trials are carried out by the major drug companies and how this data is used to influence licensing and regulation.
Today's conference will bring together a rich mix of some of the leading voices on psychiatric drugs including Dr. Mike Shooter President, Royal College of Psychiatry, David Healy leading Psychiatrist, Richard Brook Chief Executive, Mind, and Charles Medewar Social Audit UK.
Topics up for discussion today will include:
- How do pharmaceutical companies exert influence in the media and public mind?
- On what evidence is prescribing in psychiatry based?
- What are the responsibilities in psychiatry vis-a-vis pharmaceutical companies?
- Where would we be without pharmaceutical companies?
Speaking today conference Chair and Mind's Chief Executive Richard Brook said: "This conference gives us an opportunity to explore the way in which psychiatrists and pharmaceutical companies interact. After all the impact of the psychiatric drugs they work to develop affects millions of people across the world. We need to be sure that these two incredibly powerful groups work responsibly and transparently together so that the treatments that they create are of real benefit to the lives of people living with mental health problems rather than the detriment."
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(*1) In England, between 1990 and 1995, the number of prescriptions for antidepressants rose by 116 per cent and for SSRIs (newer antidepressants, such as Prozac) by 732 per cent. Prescription Pricing Authority, 1998
(*2) In September the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) announced a ban on the prescription of the SSRI anti-depressant Efexor (venlafaxine) to children and adolescents with depression. This was within months of a ban for another SSRI, Seroxat, for under 18s announced in June.