Psychiatr News August 15, 2008
Volume 43, Number 16, page 23
© 2008 American Psychiatric Association
Credibility Gap, Revisited
Stefan Kruszewski, M.D.
In the October 21, 2005, issue, Psychiatric News published my
letter to the editor about conflicts of interest, psychiatry, and
pharmaceutical and device makers. Also published was the eloquent response of
Dr. Steven Sharfstein, then APA president.
At this time, I would like to revisit that issue and ask the American
psychiatric community: Isn't it time that we reevaluate the ethics of
accepting any funding from pharmaceutical companies and their
surrogates? I believe that it is.
Recent articles in the New York Times reporting allegations of
pharmaceutical payments to university researchers that were not disclosed to
their universities reinforce my earlier conviction. As long as we hold dear to
the morality of the worthwhile tasks of psychiatry and its subspecialties, we
cannot expect, at the same time, that those values can be believed if they are
mired in the millions of dollars from companies that have a vested interest in
promoting themselves through us.
Our ethics should no longer be for sale. We should not be beholden to
interests that are separate from honest clinical research or transparent
publications. We should avoid company-funded publications that serve not to
find answers to clinical questions but, instead, to expand markets for
What is the short-term risk to rejecting corporate monies? Perhaps we
downsize our splendid meetings and trade our glossy pages of Psychiatric
News for newspaper print. Perhaps we curtail our ability to fund certain
special projects and seminars, including repetitive ones that serve little
purpose other than to add a line to an academic resume. However, what we will
have is the opportunity to say to our fellow physicians, health care workers,
and the public—and those who look to American psychiatry for
stewardship—that we place principles before bias and integrity before
price. Resolutely, we psychiatrists have one aim: to not harm and to help
where and when we can to those we serve.
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American Psychiatric Association.
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