Evil Drug Companies Accused of Taking Advantage of the Bereaved

First, a disclosure: When my father died back in 1998, I took Prozac. At the time, I was finishing up a PBS television documentary and could not focus on the task. My physician suggested that I might try taking Prozac to see if it would help. I don't know if it helped or not, but I did finish up the program in the month after I began taking the pills. Perhaps my grief was running its natural course and would have abated on its own, or perhaps the anti-depressants were effective, or both. Four months later, I took a look at the bottle and put in back in the medicine cabinet, never taking another pill. I have not used any anti-depressant medication since then.

So why the disclosure? A front page article, "Pills for grief, and a boon for drug firms," in today's Washington Post is going on another conflict of interest witch hunt in which pharmaceutical companies are once again the bad guys. In this case, a committee of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) has decided to change its guidelines and suggest that people experiencing deep grief over the death of a loved one might benefit from using anti-depressants. As it happens several of the experts on the committee have had financial relationships with various drugmakers, e.g., consulting fees and/or research grants. From the Post:

While no evidence has come to light showing that committee members broadened the diagnosis to aid the drug companies, the process of developing the handbook was fraught with financial links to the industry:

What follows are the details of some of the relationships that the committee members had with pharmaceutical companies. Simplistic QED: The decision must have been corrupt.

I note that the Post article does not in fact say that the industry-funded studies that suggest that anti-depressants might help people cope with grief are wrong.

Look, pharmaceutical companies are not to be confused with angels. They do have financial interests at stake and sometimes do unethical things. When they do they must be held liable. I did a long analysis, Scrutinizing Industry-Funded Science, [PDF] for the American Council on Science and Health back in 2007 in which I reviewed pretty much the entire peer-reviewed literature on scientific conflicts of interest. I turned that research into a Reason article, "Is Industry-Funded Science Killing You?" Basic conclusion: No.

Nearly all medical journals now require declarations of potential conflicts of interest (mostly financial) when publishing a research article. In addition, most are now requiring that all clinical trials be registered. I further recommended continuous open peer-review modeled on the Public Library of Science journals.

Considering that very few new drugs are in fact removed from the market and that newer drugs tend to work better than older ones, the sort of conflicts of interest identified by the Post do not appear to have caused significant harm to research subjects or patients.

Back in 1998, there were no guidelines with regard to using Prozac to cope to with grief. Perhaps Eli Lilly made a few bucks off of me and perhaps I succumbed to the placebo effect; nevertheless, I am glad that my physician gave me the option to try that medication. Until other researchers can show that the results of the scientific studies cited by the APA committee are flawed, mere reportorial innuendo of possible corruption is not useful for physicians or patients.

Another disclosure: I own shares in various biotech and pharmaceutical companies (no more than 1,000 in any one company, alas). I purchased all of the shares with my own money and all are held in my retirement accounts. May your deity of choice have mercy on you if you even think about cribbing any investment advice from me.

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  • Jerryskids||

    Why the hell would anybody need drugs to deal with the pain of existence? Just drink heavily like a normal person!

  • Ron Bailey||

    J: Be assured, that's my usual treatment of choice.

  • Jerryskids||

    I remember reading long ago about archeologists puzzled by the large number of bakery sites they uncovered, ancient remnants of ovens and grains, until they realized the 'bakeries' were actually breweries.

    It is an ancient, even primal, instinct to - if you can't alter reality - at least alter your perception of reality. Evil drug corporations didn't just invent the idea.

  • anon||

    Of course drug companies are evil. They make drugs that make you feel good when you don't feel good. Anything that makes you feel good cannot be tolerated; unless, of course, it's intentions.

  • flye||

    They also provide information about their products directly to people via advertisements, rather than through our credentialed gatekeepers. Evil!

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    Maybe the shrinks are coming to the conclusion that sometimes talking about an issue won't resolve it; and that drugs will. The more we learn about the brain, and the way it works, the more this seems to be the consensus among doctors.

  • Libertarius||

    But it's rubbish, and it provides a likely excuse for the destruction of the world (and the hero in your soul).

    Man is a being of volitional consciousness. So make your choice.

  • Ron Bailey||

    L: I choose to take drugs to improve my choices.

  • Randian||

    How dare people take a pill to make themselves feel better! Everyone knows that hard work is the key to proper Puritan salvation clear moral behavior.

  • nicole||

    You chose the wrong choice, Randian!

  • American Is Back||

    I'm an atheist, and I think that the world was better when children had a father and a mother who loved them.

  • ||

    Let's not make this all about you, Merkin.

  • American Is Back||

    But it's crap. I speak as someone who studied chemistry in college, and I have asked many people, trained medical researchers, about it. The truth? They really cannot know what chemicals are in the brain at a given time. You cannot, after all, just drill into someone's brain and take a sample. Sleep, depression, aggression, sex, all these things involve chemical processes, but they cannot know what influences them. What medicine, chemicals we have are largely a result of guess and check-style experimentation. We really do not know what long term effect these drugs have. So why do we allow them. Simple. Because we all know people who have been involved with the drug companies. The guy who taught us Chemistry got a grant from the drug company. They have to justify their actions by approving of the drug company, you look up to them, thus, you think hey, I know people involved with that company, they are good people! It is not a giant conspiracy by which everyone was payed off by the company. It is simply a natural human trust in the scientific establishment, the scientific system, common among most educated people.

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    It is simply a natural human trust in the scientific establishment, the scientific system, common among most educated people.

    I think I see your problem.

  • Brandon||

    This coming from the one person who should absolutely be seeking any form of help she can get, chemical or otherwise.

  • American Is Back||

    "The re-education camp is this way, we have the best doctors here working to cure your problem. Whether it's a child who won't obey authority, a girl who thinks she's not thin enough, or an adult our courts have found to be racist, we care about you and want to make you better. FORWARD!!!"

  • Sevo||

    American Is Back| 12.27.12 @ 1:21PM |#
    ..."I speak as someone who studied chemistry in college"...

    The world would be a better place if you stuck with basket-weaving.

  • Bobarian||

    "You cannot, after all, just drill into someone's brain and take a sample."

    Sure you can; haven't you noticed the little holes in the back of your head?

  • ||

    And how did the drug companies get started? The drug companies made them! Wait a minute....

  • ||

    Comrade Bailey, you are suffering from a severe case of false consciousness, you will report to the nearest state psychiatric facility to receive medication and re-education.

  • American Is Back||

    Rubbish the lot of it. The fact is that these are psychcochemical stimulants. They change your brain chemistry. That should creep you out. And there is no evidence that these aren't harmful. We are giving these powerful neuro-chemical stimulants to CHILDREN, simply because they can't sit in a desk for eight hours without being a fucking kid. We give them to teenage girls because for some reason(there usually isn't a reason) that cute boy won't look at her and it makes her depressed. For some people depression is a tragic, genetic thing but our society has made a significant minority of people clinically depressed. If you have a zeitgeist that requires drugs to numb people not to rebel against it, you have a problem. We have a problem. But cosmatarians would rather drink the fucking kool-aid, literally.

  • nicole||

    They change your brain chemistry. That should creep you out.

    Why are you okay with pregnancy and childbearing?

  • American Is Back||

    Because those are evolved functions that exist in nature. If there were any adverse effects natural selection would have done away with them. These drugs were created by man. We have no understanding of them. When it comes time to choose whether we pour chemicals whose effects we have no understanding of into CHILDREN, because we want them to stop whining about how we are to busy working and fucking each other to pay attention to them, I'll say NO!

  • Sevo||

    American Is Back| 12.27.12 @ 1:25PM |#
    "Because those are evolved functions that exist in nature."

    Ho, ho, ho!
    I was wrong; you shoulda stuck with comedy!

  • Randian||

    If there were any adverse effects natural selection would have done away with them.

    It's obvious you didn't study biology.

    Explain "allergies" then, smart guy.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Maybe having major surgery without general anesthetic is the root of your issues.

  • tarran||

    Why are you arguing with an unemployable, obsessed, crazy person?

  • tarran||

    ... er Nicole, I mean.

  • nicole||

    The holidays are a time of social inversion, aka violating troll-free Thursdays. Also I find the new persona really annoying.

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    Nicole, OT but didn't you just finish reading "Debt"?

  • nicole||

    No, I read a bit of the beginning several months ago and haven't gone back to it, though I'm still thinking about it.

  • ||

    nicole needed to devote more time to catching up on her Archie comics. Jughead doesn't read himself!

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Speaking of reading, a new 2013 version of the Complete Sherlock Holmes is available for free on the Kindle.

    I never read A Study in Scarlet before. Doyle really didn't like the Mormons.

  • Randian||

    I mean, to be fair, who does?

  • nicole||

    Hey, I downloaded that last night. I haven't read any other than The Hound of the Baskervilles, but I'm not surprised about the Mormons. Although you'd think he would have been into it, what with the spiritism--but I guess that was probably later.

  • Robert||

    You want to read some A.C. Doyle stuff that's been very influential on subsequent literature & drama? Tales of Terror & Mystery. See if you recognize stuff from Watchmen and the TV serial Lost, especially in "The Lost Special", which is also collected in Round The Fire Stories.

  • tarran||

    Read the Poisoned Band, sometime. It's basically chock full of Nazi racial/ethnic theory.

    Actually, don't. Shitty book that isn't worth the time it takes to read it.

  • Robert||

    I'm pretty sure on one of those covers, Jughead was reading himself.

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    For some people depression is a tragic, genetic thing but our society has made a significant minority of people clinically depressed.

    That's right, fuck these people. I mean just because we have the science to help them live a normal life, doesn't mean we should. Of course it is a psycho-chemical stimulant, that is why it works.

  • Brett L||

    We get it. You, personally, don't like them. Now let the rest of us decide for ourselves whether or not the effects, side-effects, and long-term changes are worth using or not. Thanks.

    I can say with great certainty that my current brain chemistry is not what it was 10 years ago or 15 years ago. To assert that everyone's brain chemistry works optimally and is stable over time is flat wrong and against everything we know about the subject. Which is not to say that the APA is right, either.

  • American Is Back||

    Look, I understand if these can be beneficial at some point. Like I said for some people depression is genetic and these drugs may help. I believe that you should be able to do whatever you want with your own life, even take meth if you want. But when we are giving these powerful drugs to CHILDREN simply because they are not being unquestionably submissive, then we need to have that conversation, and consider regulations.

  • Brett L||

    Yes, yes. For teh chirrens! The defense of every freedom grabber. See, what I observe is that despite fads and all out attempts by the well-meaning to "save the children from _____", the lament of the old about the youth hasn't changed since Socrates was accused of corrupting the youth of Athens. Do what you will for your children. Stay the fuck out of my kids' lives.

  • American Is Back||

    Human beings care about children. Demagogue's take advantage of that. It doesn't mean we shouldn't care about children. Once I was with some of my fellow generation (I type with a sneer) at their house. They were getting drunk and having fun. There kid was over in the corner, playing his gameboy, just as he should. They said that he used to be hype,r he would have been "running around the house jumping up and down and up and down," before they drugged him up. I asked then why that was abnormal. They said he was "hyperactive." I criticized the idea as "having a little bit of life in him instead of being a feminized submissive little ornament." The guy, a textbook lefty, yelled lefty crap back at me. His father and I wanted to go for each others throats, we would have if there hadn't been any women there. I understood his "mind your own business" sentiment. But when your drugging children just so you could enjoy getting drunk? Our society is sick.

  • ||

    I too am unsure about the wisdom of giving certain children particular chemicals, but you have no idea what "hyperactive" really meant in regards to that kid, and not being hyperactive /=/ feminized.

    Also, you seem to be putting words into the man's mouth when you say "drugging children just so you could enjoy getting drunk". You have no idea how easy or difficult the child was beforehand, and seem to think that any problem the man had with his child is his fault.

    Having been a rather unmanageable child myself, and having a few cousins that were the same way, I can tell you you have absolutely no clue what you're talking about. You're just making guesses based on what you'd like to believe about them.

  • Swatchman||

    reminds me of the movie "Equilibrium"

  • Libertarius||

    Just stop drugging your kids. Tell them that reality is something to be faced and conquered, not evaded in subhuman cowardice.

  • Randian||

    As opposed to reading Nietzsche and going full-retard about it, the way you do.

  • Brett L||

    I assume that you don't drink tea or coffee, consume alcohol in any amount, eat chocolate, or take aspirin either, right?

  • American Is Back||

    I say no to the first three. We understand chocolate. Fat and sugar are things that we evolved to desire and exist in nature.(The idea that "chocolate makes you horny" has no scientific basis) We understand Aspirin pretty well, the chemistry behind it. We only used it sparingly, when we want to alter our brain chemistry because of PAIN. We give drugs from which we have very little understanding to CHILDREN with the STATED goal of modifying their PERSONALITIES in order to make then SUBMIT to our fucking ZEITGEIST we can't even fucking JUSTIFY!

  • Randian||

    If you TYPE words in caps PEOPLE will definitely GET the EMPHASIS

  • Brandon||

    You get that coffee and tea exist in nature, right? As does alcohol? They weren't synthesized, you fucking moron.

  • Brett L||

    Hercule, is that you? How do you feel about cat EMPIRES?

  • Ted S.||

    I prefer my cats in Danish Modern sytle, not Empire.

  • Randian||

    Would you define 'nature' as you're using it here, please?

    You know what else exists in nature? Weed, psychedelic mushrooms, and rattlesnake poison.

    One will get you high, one will make you see things, one will kill you.

    All of them are natural.

  • American Is Back||

    Yes, and that is why our ancestors learned to avoid them. We know that sucrose, C12H22011, exists in nature. We know it is beneficial to us. We know it is the basic unit of energy in cells. We don't know how these advanced, unnatural chemical function. They did not evolve to have a function. Our body did not evolve to deal with them. At least with rattlesnake poison we know it's purpose. We know to avoid it.

  • Randian||

    People didn't avoid weed or psychedelic mushrooms. There's considerable evidence that one or more 'natural' drugs were key parts of religious rituals all around the world.

    Man, that gives me a great idea: what if the Eucharist / communion was, you know, an actual wine-besotted feast? Jesus would seem a lot more fun then.

  • Redmanfms||

    Man, that gives me a great idea: what if the Eucharist / communion was, you know, an actual wine-besotted feast? Jesus would seem a lot more fun then.

    In several of the early churches it was and both Paul and John (through the Revelation) were deeply critical of them.

  • Redmanfms||

    It was re: besotted feasts

    Critical of them re: the fact that they were indulging in drunkeness.

  • Randian||

    And only a certain special kind of Statist looks at people experimenting with things and says "Ye gods we must stop this immediately!"

    People are out there testing out drugs...for free...and you want to stop them?! Why?

  • Robert||

    What about the theobromine?

  • Libertarius||

    You would be an idiot to assume that. My point is that I believe these clinical psychoactives are dangerous, and that they provide an allegedly scientific excuse for what is a moral deficiency (the evasion of reality).

    I've never even suggested these drugs should be illegal. But they are not for me.

  • Randian||

    that they provide an allegedly scientific excuse for what is a moral deficiency (the evasion of reality).

    Can you point to any science to back your claim here?

  • American Is Back||

    And fucking recognize that they are HOMO SAPIENS. They evolved to have certain needs. They need physical activity, the boys especially. If you keep them chained to a desk all day they will get "hyperactive." And if you give them no attention beyond handing them lunch money each day they will get depressed. They need love and attention, motherly attention in particular. If you spend all your time working and having sex, they will be depressed. But our society is so dedicated to our zeitgeist that we have to DRUG OUR CHILDREN. This used to sound like something from science fiction.

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    Libertarius,

    I'll make you a deal. You tell your kids whatever floats your boat and makes you happy, Ok. In return, you allow people to do what they feel is in the best interest of their kids, included getting them the meds they and their doctors feel is necessary.

    Deal?

  • American Is Back||

    I sold my kids to work in a coal mine. I also sold my oldest daughter to a whorehouse and got her addicted to heroine so she wouldn't run away. For the aspies here I'm being sarcastic.

  • Brandon||

    At least learn how to spell "heroin," dipshit.

  • Marshall Gill||

    Mary didn't mean the opiate based drug, her daughter became addicted to Dagny in AS.

  • Bobarian||

    He (she? it?) meant that he got her addicted to romance novels...

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    So you belief in slavery. Doesn't surprise me.

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    belief = believe

  • ||

    Do you have to tell yourself you're sarcastic so you can pretend to understand it, Merkin?

    That was sarcasm from this "aspie" (god I hate that word, it's like putting a "bully me" sign on yourself) here, in case your monkey-brain-on-crack had a hard time parsing it.

  • Swatchman||

    without the swordplay

  • C. Anacreon||

    What everyone fails to realize in the kerfuffle over DSM-V is that it is basically a manual for diagnostic billing codes. No one I have ever met actually uses the DSM to make treatment decisions. Just like Mr Bailey was offered antidepressants long before any change in the bereavment diagnosis, physicians will choose to prescribe meds based on their knowledge base and clinical expertise, not on info from a book that tells you what number to send the insurance company to get your reimbursement.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    On Topic: CHIMNEY BONG!

  • np||

    American Is Back| 12.27.12 @ 1:53PM |#

    and consider regulations.


    Your "libertarian" mask is slipping.

    From Libertarius's and American's fondness of saying "it's rubbish" to their "for the children" bullshit I'm thinking they are the same persons.

    From being virulently against man-made solutions and alterations, or any perceived, "unnatural" non-evolutionary advances, and from previous posts about American's Gaia loving rant about immigrants coming here and depleting our natural resources, I'm thinking it's White Injun aka Mary.

  • Libertarius||

    No.

    I have never even entertained the notion that these drugs should be banned or regulated--I'm saying that I take responsibility for my mind, I think these drugs are dangerous, and I would never take them.

    The materialists (of the mind-body dichotomy) have taken over psychology decades ago, and this is where the intense focus on pharmacology and chemistry has come from. Their fundamental premise (which I reject with prejudice) is that man is not conscious, that he has no ability to think and reason, and that instead man is a biological robot.

    My moral indictment of modern psychology comes from the fact that materialism gives man an excuse for being a coward in the face of reality; for my judgment, "the devil made me do it" is no better than "my glands made me do it."

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    -I'm saying that I take responsibility for my mind, I think these drugs are dangerous, and I would never take them.

    This is like saying a diabetic should "take responsibility for his pancreas." Sometimes things go wrong with the body, that is a biological fact. Man can then use his ability to think and reason to find a way to correct that malfunction. That is what makes man unique among animals. The fact that you would not take them, nor would you ban or regulate them is a point in your favor. But fixing issues of the body does not make a man a coward.

  • Libertarius||

    So you equate the mind on the same level as the pancreas--speak for yourself. That is the very essence of biological materialism.

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    Are you actually saying the brain is not biological? Where does the mind "reside" if not in the brain?

    Since you seem to have issues with understanding what I wrote, let me see if I can clarify it. The brain is a biological thing, just like a pancreas. Since it is a biological thing, it can malfunction. Since human beings are thinking and rationalizing creatures, we can and do figure out ways to correct the malfunction.

    Taking ownership of you mind has nothing to do with this, nor is it cowardly to want to fix a biological issue.

  • JeremyR||

    So bring back lobotomies then. A few snips and you'll be a happy automaton.

    If people choose to medicate themselves to escape from reality, fine. That's their choice, But children shouldn't have it forced upon them just because it makes them easier to deal with.

  • JeremyR||

    Adults should be able to take anything they want.

    Children on the other hand, should not be forced to take medication just because they act like kids. If they want to dope themselves to a stupor when they are adults, fine, but only when they can make a rational decision about it.

  • C. Anacreon||

    I have no doubt that psychiatric meds are overprescribed in children. However, that does not mean they are just used to turn kids into zombies, nor should they be banned for those who really need them. Many stimulants provide an ability to focus that a true ADHD sufferer appreciates -- and they themselves do not think of it as "mind control", but instead as a way to help slow down racing thoughts.

  • Sevo||

    C. Anacreon| 12.27.12 @ 8:24PM |#
    ..."Many stimulants provide an ability to focus that a true ADHD sufferer appreciates -"...
    How do you define a "true ADHD sufferer"?

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