Mental illness and possible conflicts of interest


Why would the future of people with mental illness be placed in the hands of physicians who have ties to the drug industry? About one in four adults (or 57.7 million people) in America suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder each year. The American Psychiatric Association and its DSM-5 Task Force are preparing the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which classifies mental disorders and is in force for roughly ten years between revisions.

Each of the physicians on the task force kindly provided an “APA DSM-V Task Force Member Disclosure Report” and agreed not to accept more than $10,000 in yearly income “derived from industry sources” until DSM-5 is published. Between 2003 and 2008, David J Kupfer, MD, the chair of the task force, discloses consultations with Eli Lilly and Company, Forest Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer Inc., Johnson & Johnson, Hoffman LaRoche, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. and others. Approximately 10 of 30 doctors on the task force list no such consultations with drug companies. Which leaves us with the 20 (or 66% of the task force) who do.

Thank you to Susan Perry of MinnPost, whose report on an article by Andrew Scull, “A Psychiatric Revolution” in The Lancet was enough to get me to look at task force discosures.