Harvard Psychiatrists Who Advocated Antipsychotics for Kids Took $4.2M From Big Pharma

“Three US psychiatrists, responsible for trailblazing the use of antipsychotic drugs in children, are facing sanctions for their failure to declare their acceptance of millions of dollars from pharmaceutical companies between 2000 and 2007. Joseph Biederman, Thomas Spencer and Timothy Wilens, child psychiatrists at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, were first identified three years ago in an investigation led by Iowa Republican Senator Charles Grassley as failing to disclose potential conflicts of interests that could have arisen due to payments from pharmaceutical companies. Biederman had pioneered the diagnosis of bipolar disorder in children and adolescents, a disorder previously thought to affect only adults. One of the world’s most influential child psychiatrists, Biederman’s work led to a 40-fold increase in paediatric bipolar disorder diagnoses and an accompanying expansion in the use of antipsychotic drugs – developed to treat schizophrenia and not originally approved for use in children – to treat the condition. … Grassley revealed the trio’s misconduct in 2008, following his high-profile investigation of the psychiatrist Charles Nemeroff, and the three eventually admitted to receiving a combined total of $4.2 million from drug companies. The large number of psychiatrists investigated by Grassley’s probe poses the question of whether this field is more susceptible to competing interests or, as some suggest, suffers from higher scrutiny due to prejudices against psychiatry.”

Nature News Blog: Harvard scientists disciplined for not declaring ties to drug companies.