How Drug Company Money Has Corrupted Psychiatry

After nearly three decades as a member it is with a mixture of pleasure and disappointment that I submit this letter of resignation from the American Psychiatric Association. The major reason for this action is my belief that I am actually resigning from the American Psychopharmacological Association. Luckily, the organization’s true identity requires no change in the acronym.

Dr. Loren Richard Mosher

Dr. Loren Mosher – who passed away in 2004 – was an American psychiatrist. Wikipedia says that he:

“… spent his professional career advocating for humane and effective treatment for people diagnosed as having schizophrenia and was instrumental in developing an innovative, residential, home-like, non-hospital, non-drug treatment model for newly identified acutely psychotic persons.

In the 1970s, Mosher, then Chief of the newly formed Center for Schizophrenia Research, wrote a grant to obtain funding for a novel idea for treating people diagnosed with schizophrenia; an intensive psychosocial milieu-based residential treatment known as the Soteria Project. The results of the study were remarkable and showed that people with schizophrenia did in fact recover from the illness without the use of neuroleptics [major tranquilisers] in a supportive home-like environment.

Progressively vocal in his opposition to the prevailing psychiatric practices of the time and the increasing reliance on pharmaceuticals for treatment, Mosher managed to anger and isolate himself from many of his colleagues at the National Institute of Mental Health, and was finally dismissed from his position in 1980. Disillusioned with the field, he wrote a very public letter of resignation from the American Psychiatric Association in 1998, stating that ‘After nearly three decades as a member it is with a mixture of pleasure and disappointment that I submit this letter of resignation from the American Psychiatric Association. The major reason for this action is my belief that I am actually resigning from the American Psychopharmacological Association. Luckily, the organization’s true identity requires no change in the acronym.’

Here is an article written by Dr. Loren Mosher within a North American context. It begins:

“The American Psychiatric Association (APA) is the nationwide organization to which most psychiatrists belong. In some ways it is a trade union. A large proportion of its income is from drug company advertising in its journals and newspaper. It also receives “unrestricted educational grants” and convention revenue from drug companies. Drug company sponsored symposia and exhibitions dominate the two major annual psychiatric conventions. Of course, the symposia speakers are paid handsomely for their half-day appearances. In my opinion, the APA is so dependent on pharmaceutical company support that it can not afford to criticize the overuse and misuse of psychotropic drugs. Perhaps more importantly, the APA is unwilling to mandate education of psychiatrists about the the seriousness of the short and long-term toxicities and withdrawal reactions from the drugs.

The drug companies pay speakers … who give psychiatric grand rounds and/or evening speeches (dinner provided by the company) to local psychiatric societies. Speakers come from lists of psychiatrists who will basically endorse their products. Doctors training to be psychiatrists are specially targeted for these speakers …”

You can read more here.

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