More than half of the doctors that set diagnostic standards for the leading U.S. psychiatric journal had undisclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry, a recent study shows.
The study, by Tufts professor Sheldon Krimsky and University of Massachusetts Boston psychology professor Lisa Cosgrove, shows that 56 percent of 170 doctors who develop and modify criteria for diagnosing mental illness had one or more financial links to the drug industry. The doctors in question contributed to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), a leading reference manual for psychiatrists. The manual was published in 1994 and updated in 2000 by the American Psychiatric Association (APA).
"We recommend that the APA institute a disclosure policy for panel members of the DSM who have financial ties to the drug industry," study authors wrote.
Among the 170 panel members, 42 percent received research funding from pharmaceutical companies; 22 percent were consultants and 16 percent served as members of a drug company's speakers' bureau.
Financial ties were especially strong for members who set diagnostic criteria for mood disorders and psychotic disorders. Study authors called this a "cause for concern" because drugs are part of the standard treatment for these conditions. Antidepressants and antipsychotics are among the top-selling drugs, generating $34.4 billion in sales in 2004, the report said.
The study acknowledges that financial support from a drug company should not automatically disqualify an individual from serving on a DSM panel, but panel members should disclose such financial ties to the public and to mental health professionals because "pharmaceutical companies have a vested interest in what mental disorders are included in the DSM," the study said.