Marty Keller… the truth about him and his ‘science’

This from the excellent Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry:

In the latest American Journal of Psychiatry appears a review of Allison Bass’s book Side Effects. As many of my readers undoubtedly recall, the book details the saga of the antidepressant drug paroxetine (Paxil) and the troubled line of “research” used to support its use in children (among other points). The reviewer clearly liked the book, which is not necessarily newsworthy. What is notable is that a book review appearing in perhaps the world’s leading psychiatry journal slams a leading member of the psychiatry profession. The reviewer, Dr. Spencer Eth, writes the following:

More recently, psychiatrists have been greeted in the morning with front-page newspaper exposés of huge sums being directed by these same drug companies to the physician leaders of our field. In Side Effects: A Prosecutor, a Whistleblower, and a Bestselling Antidepressant on Trial, journalist Alison Bass has written the powerful story of a leading medication, its manufacturer, and a favored psychiatrist, whose driving force was profit not treatment.

Ouch. Though not naming the psychiatrist directly, it is clearly a reference to Martin Keller, bigwig at Brown University, whose work on one particular study regarding Paxil was the subject of a lengthy prior post. For the collection of my posts related to Dr. Keller, please click here.

Back to the review…

This well-told cautionary lacks the excitement of a novel but instead informs the reader with an actual case study with the real names of psychiatrists we know. We can see exactly how corporate greed, drug-company-sponsored clinical research, and mental health care become a toxic mix that inevitably damages our patients’ well being, our colleagues’ reputations, and our profession’s good name.

It was a refreshing surprise to see Martin Keller’s goose get cooked in this review. I don’t mean to sound vindictive or meanspirited. Keller has done a lot of work over the course of his career, much of which likely has some redeeming value. That being said, there can be little doubt that some of his “science” is quite dubious. And for a major psychiatry journal to run anything, even a book review, that directly goes after a “key opinion leader” who appears quite culpable in performing bad science — that’s a good sign.


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