Are psychiatrists and the pharmaceutical industry too close?

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iVillage Member
Registered: 11-13-2008
Are psychiatrists and the pharmaceutical industry too close?
Tue, 10-09-2012 - 4:29pm

I just read this very compelling article from Time regarding the psychiatric community and how there needs to be more separation with it and the pharmaceutical companies: 

Arguing that his profession is “committing professional suicide” by failing to address its dangerously close relationship with the pharmaceutical industry, he likened psychiatry’s attitude toward its faltering legitimacy to the Vatican’s widely derided response to its child-sex-abuse scandal by priests — essentially that psychiatry is brushing off justifiable concerns as hype instead of dealing with the source of the problem.

Few experts believe that psychiatry’s relationship with the drug industry is healthy. While several speakers at the session pointed out that other specialties are similarly entangled with industry, “everyone does it” is generally not a valid defense where conflicts of interest are concerned.

Read more:

It's a scary decision to put your child on medicaitions, so it's not very reassuring to know that the prescribing doctor might not be completely unbiased when making the decision on what is best for your child.  Like the article says, they need to be looking at all the aspects of the meds, including any risks and side effects. 

What are your thoughts on the article? 

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-04-2001

As you know, I am an advocate for better "mental" health care. We need comprehensive, collaborative, integrated and integrative meaningful care involving multiple medical professions. Psychiatrists are MDs - Medical Doctors, and need to start acting as such.

I am proud that NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), even with their heavy ties to the pharmaceutical industry and mantra about everyone needing to stay on meds, has allowed me to give workshops about our story and my advocacy. I am not against psychiatric medication. It saved my kids' lives. The problem was multi-faceted. The pharmaceuticals did not make them well. They did not address the underlying problems causing their psychiatric symptoms. The treatment ended with giving meds - i.e. there was not a "next step" which was exploring underlying causes and treating that. There was insufficient medical care, monitring of and response to the ubiquitous side-effects of the medications given. Once the DSM diagnoses and psych meds were given, the other medical professions did not want to be involved (here is an example: Psychiatrist vs Endocrinologist: Who is Responsible?)

But I would not blame the psychiatrists alone. The entire system of care is broken. I went on an inside tour of our state psychiatric hospital recently. We were told that they get sent patients from emergency rooms who the medical hospitals diagnose with "schizophrenia" after seeing them briefly. The psych hospital then miraculously "cures the schizophrenia" with a round of antibiotics because the patients have bladder infections.

There are so many medical issues that can cause mental changes. It is so very easy for doctors to just medicate with antipsychotics rather than look for a cause. The stories go on and on...

One mother's son with"childhood-onset schizophrenia" was finally cured when someone realized he had the elevated copper levels  from Wilson's disease. Another mother's son had been in a psychiatric facility for a year when another patient pushed him down and he hit his head, getting a concussion. An MRI then discovered an operable brain tumor had been causing his symptoms. Daughters in and out of psych hospitals with "bipolar" and "schizoaffective" for decades before becoming "recovered" after physical issues were finally addressed. Another son whose father, an MD, insisted his "schizophrenic" son (a child) be tested in the hospital - and was found to have a parathyroid adenoma. If not for the MD dad, the son would have just been one more psych patient on expensive and life-threatening medications. Yes - the psych meds will keep them mentally "better" - less agitated... calmer... than before. But is that enough? Is that really the across-the-board permanent solution?

And then what about all the emotional fallout from their illnesses? What about their need to CBT and DBT and simply someone to talk to? What about getting the strength to cope with, and recover from, such severe symptoms... More and more managed care companies are resulting in very few psychaitrists available to treat the poorer patients and all these psychiatrists have TIME for is to write a prescription and see the patient again in another 6 months.

It is all the psychiatrists' fault.  The problem is... us... all of society... and the whole system of care. When it comes to "mental"... none of us nor any of the medical specialties are claiming true responsibility.

There are so many non-pharmaceutical, cost-effective, treatments available which do not get implemented in the U.S. How can that not be because of the pharmaceutical industry? They have billions invested in keeping people sick and treated with their products. What about looking at diet, sleep, nutrition, family dynamics, vision, school placement, home environment? What about the non-pharamceutical approaches (possibly after medication has been started - may help people get OFF those meds!)

Here are some interesting articles and books about other techniques:

Dr. Popper presentation on Diet plus Empower -- titled "Nutritional Management of Bipolar Disorder in Adults and Youth".

Train Your Brain, Transform Your Life: Conquer Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder In 60 Days, Without Ritalin

Antioxidant Supplements ‘May Be Effective Therapy For Classic Autism Symptoms'

Micronutrients (minerals and vitamins - EMPowerPlus was used) improved neurocognitive functioning in adults with ADHD and severe mood dysregulation.

www. It's Not Mental .com

iVillage Member
Registered: 06-02-2007


All I know is that everytime I see a psychologist they always refer me to a psychiatrist to see about getting a prescription (since psychologists can't prescribe drugs), and everytime I've gone to see one, they've prescribed them.  I went a couple times for myself and took my son another time, but I will not have him put on meds without looking at alternatives first--he is too young.  Why is there always such a rush to put someone on meds without looking towards other alternative/holistic ways first?  I think the pharmaceutical industry is a big influence, and also on vaccines too.