The excerpt below is from David Healy’s Marketing Drugs and Changing Lives in the US… you can read more here.
Consensus conferences aimed at producing guidelines for clinical practice came into existence in the late 1980s (Sheldon and Smith 1993). A range of bodies took up this apparently academic development. Within psychiatry, groups such as the British Association of Psychopharmacology and the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology, for example, produced guidelines on the treatment of a range of conditions from depression through to schizophrenia. This may have happened in part in an effort to establish a political profile. In a number of the organizations that produced guidelines, the influence of key individuals with links to pharmaceutical companies is apparent.
At the same time pharmaceutical companies began to sponsor meetings aimed at producing expert consensus on issues such as the appropriate use of medication in schizophrenia. These company sponsored meetings have often resulted in products that may appear almost indistinguishable from non-company sponsored guidelines or algorithms. While this might be thought as an exercise designed to confound the recommendations of independent committees, in fact committees that should be independent have come up with recommendations that barely differ from explicitly company-sponsored exercises.
And my point is…?
A couple of posts ago I wrote about a news item that I saw last week – Adult ADHD Marketing Reaches the UK. I wondered where the story had come from – what the “strong evidence” and “research” is…
It is only in the last few years that strong evidence has emerged about the extent of ADHD in the adult population. It is thought up to 8% of children may be affected, and research suggests that half or more may have symptoms past adolescence into their twenties, thirties or even forties.
Yet the condition is barely recognised by the health service beyond 18 years of age.
Professor Anthony Hale, professor of psychiatry at the University of Kent, said patients are being failed by the system. “There are huge numbers of people across the country who are on waiting lists to see adult psychiatrists who don’t have the expertise to deal with them. The 4% of the adult population figure is very real.”
…Dr Marios Adamou, whose clinic is due to close in October due to lack of funding, said poor access to treatment is a real problem.
“For some people it may mean catastrophe, because some people without the medicine are prone to offending behaviour, and prone to aggression. So a few people may end up being arrested, being imprisoned. Others may fail in their courses, others may fail in their occupation.”
Dr Adamou says Britain is years behind most other European countries in dealing with this problem.
Most of the medication is licensed for use only in children, and many of the treatments are controlled drugs, so GPs – and many adult psychiatrists – are often reluctant to prescribe them.
The “strong evidence” and “research” mentioned, comes from a consensus meeting of 2006 (ADHD in transition from child to adult), organised by the British Association for Psychopharmacology (BAP) and funded by Cephalon, Janssen, Lilly, Shire UK and Shire US – all drug companies that manufacture ADHD drugs – Adderall, Modafinil, Concerta and Strattera. All of the drug companies also supplied ‘observers’ who attended the meeting to… ‘observe’, I suppose.
The Consensus Group was headed by Professor David J Nutt – would this be a good time to mention the Professor’s links, I wonder? – Professor Nutt has acted as a consultant to Pfizer, GSK, MSD, Novartis, Asahi, Organon, Cypress, Lilly, Janssen, Lundbeck, Wyeth. He has speaking honoraria (in addition to above) with Reckitt-Benkiser and Cephalon. Grants or clinical trial payments from MSD, GSK, Novartis, Servier, Janssen, Yamanouchi, Lundbeck, Pfizer, Wyeth, Organon. He has 300 shares with GSK (ex-Wellcome). Professor Nutt also promoted Seroxat at Glaxo’s launch of Seroxat for “social anxiety disorder”.
Also at the consensus meeting were Professor Anthony Hale and Dr Marios Adamou, who work together in Kent. In 2003 in a letter they co-wrote to the BMJ they signed off: Competing interests: M. Adamou is a co-investigator to pharmaceutical companies producing or developing neurotropics. A.S. Hale is an investigator and advisor to pharmaceutical companies producing or developing neurotropics.
I just can’t help thinking that maybe things might not be quite so clear cut as they seemed when this story was first published.
Adult ADHD – coming to a UK GP near you ASAP.