Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A new level of chutzpah in psychiatric ghostwriting

The New York Times has a revealing article about how a popular textbook for family doctors on how to treat mental illness, apparently written by two big name psychiatrists, was almost entirely written by a ghostwriting service under the direction of a large drug company.
Two prominent authors of a 1999 book teaching family doctors how to treat psychiatric disorders provided acknowledgment in the preface for an “unrestricted educational grant” from a major pharmaceutical company.
But the drug maker, then known as SmithKline Beecham, actually had much more involvement than the book described, newly disclosed documents show. The grant paid for a writing company to develop the outline and text for the two named authors, the documents show, and then the writing company said it planned to show three drafts directly to the pharmaceutical company for comments and “sign-off” and page proofs for “final approval.”
“That doesn’t sound unrestricted to me,” Dr. Bernard Lo, a medical ethicist and chairman of an Institute of Medicine group…
David A. Kessler, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, is memorably quoted as saying “To ghostwrite an entire textbook is a new level of chutzpah.” “I’ve never heard of that before. It takes your breath away.”

The book is reported to be Recognition and Treatment of Psychiatric Disorders: A Psychopharmacology Handbook for Primary Care by Charles B. Nemeroff and Alan F. Schatzberg.
Nemeroff. Now where have I heard that name before?

Link to NYT piece on ghostwritten psychiatry textbook.