Dr Greg Simon and his latest study

I just saw a post at Furious Seasons, about a new study – or rather about the press release for a new study as we haven’t been allowed to see the paper as yet:

“Turns out that getting treatment–meds, psychotherapy or both–works to eliminate suicide attempts soon after a patient begins treatment. Culled from 100,000 or so patient records by Seattle’s own Group Health Cooperative, the resultant paper is not yet available on the APA’s website. But in a press release, GHC’s Greg Simon notes… the study sheds new light on the “black box” advisory that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) placed in 2004 and has revised since then, said Greg Simon, MD, MPH, the Group Health psychiatrist who led the study. The advisory—which has concerned many patients, families, and care providers—warns that suicidal behavior may emerge soon after people younger than 25 start treatment with newer antidepressant medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)….

Gerg Simon – that name rang a bell.

Now, let me see – Greg had produced another study in 2006 – its conclusions ran very much along the same lines .

This from Social Audit:

The Am J Psych decided that: “reconsideration of the FDA warning seems warranted”. This was on the basis of a major, NIH-funded, epidemiological study, published in the same issue that concluded, “Available data do not indicate a significant increase in risk of suicide or serious suicide attempt after starting treatment with newer antidepressant drugs”. Much publicity followed: “Antidepressants Seem to Cut Suicide Risk in Teenagers and Adults, Study says”, according to the New York Times.

After examining thousands of records in a Seattle-based, “consumer-governed”, non-profit health plan, the researchers reported that “suicide attempts decreased by over 60% in the first month of treatment”. As suicide attempts typically bring people into contact with doctors who then usually prescribe an antidepressant drug, this study just quantified the obvious: levels of suicidal behaviour tend to fall when people get help.

However, I think that you really need to read the whole exchange between Charles Medawar of Social Audit and Dr Greg Simon – I think you’ll get more of an idea of what Greg’s particular angle is…

This may also help as well – one of the study’s co-authors was Philip S Wang…

Can this be the same Philip S Wang that The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had been urged to remove from one of its advisory boards evaluating the link between serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and suicide in youths because he had been a paid consultant for one of the companies that make the drugs under investigation?

Or the same Philip S Wang who served as an expert witness for Glaxo in a wrongful death suit involving Paxil.

Or the same Philip S Wang who appeared for Aventis in the case of Vera Easter verses Aventis Pasteur? Although Harvard-educated and the author of some 80 peer-reviewed articles, according to his deposition, Dr Philip Wang’s specialty was epidemiology related to antidepressants. Prior to being retained as an expert for the vaccine makers, Dr Wang had not done any evaluations associated with vaccines, had no specific training whatsoever regarding mercury, and had written no articles on the effects of heavy metal exposure.

Dr Wang has never investigated any illness claimed to be associated with heavy metal exposure and has never been asked to do a formal epidemiologic evaluation of the hypothesis that the thimerosal could cause neurological disorders or autism.

Dr Wang’s knowledge of vaccines and thimerosal was limited to what he learned in 30 to 35 hours of meetings with defense attorneys and reading the relevant medical literature, most of which was provided by the defense attorneys.

Or the same Philip S Wang who received $1.2 million from Kaiser Permanente, via the National Institute of Mental Health, to research Outreach and Treatment for Depression in the Labor Force. This project will involve an effectiveness trial to evaluate the impact of depression outreach-treatment of work-related behaviors.

I think I should point out that the National Institute of Mental Health funded the new study, whose other author is James Savarino – the same James Savarino who co-authored the earlier study with Dr Simon and Dr Wang.

The National Institute for Mental Health has a long and proud history of working closely with the drug industry.


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