February 4, 2004

Statement to the FDA on February 2nd, 2004

I am a behavioral-developmental pediatrician who has prescribed psychiatric drugs to children for 26 years. I have no drug company affiliations. I am the author of Running on Ritalin and Should I Medicate My Child? As a "front-line" practitioner I have lost faith in my research-academic colleagues to provide me data, information, opinions and conclusions in an objective and unbiased fashion. I desperately need that information -- today we are discussing SSRIs in children -- in order to validate and augment the clinical decisions I must make everyday on who does and doesn't get medication.

Unfortunately, in my quarter century of practice I've seen child psychiatry's biological revolution hijacked by a for profit drug industry. Drug companies so pervasively influence academic research, professional education, and now direct consumer information -- ultimately determining the very way society views its own problems.

I see the top research leaders in the field of child psychiatry simultaneously publishing papers in scientific peer review journals while appearing in press conferences for corporations that have funded the research which is then reported in the Wall Street Journal. We learn of non-publication agreements of negative finding studies and limited access to raw data that potentially allows for completely different interpretations or conclusions based upon the published information.

At this time the conflict of interest between my academic colleagues and the drug industry rivals that of the stock analysts and the brokerage firms. Doctors are at risk of being regulated by the government. But this unlikely to happen soon, since the public and Congress have been similarly influenced or ìbought" by these powerful corporations,

Unfortunately it will take children dying likely followed by trial lawyer class action suits to get changes either in the practice or regulation of the SSRIs. That's a heck of a costly way both to individual families and the public for what should be routine formal post-marketing drug surveillance funded by neutral third-parties. In a poll conducted on my website 78% said they'd be willing to a pay a surcharge on the cost of their medication to fund such follow-up studies.

Until then I hope there is more government funded research like the Castellanos' study comparing long acting stimulants. As long as I only have research funded or suppressed by drug companies, I will remain quite cautious and hyper-vigilant over what I prescribe the youth of America.


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