by John M. Grohol, Psy.D.
April 14, 2008
Robert Farley of the St. Petersburg Times had an excellent in-depth piece about the war to increase prescriptions of atypical antipsychotics in America. I say “war,” because it really seems like there was a concerted, although perhaps not coordinated, effort to change the thinking about the best course of treatment for people with disorders like schizophrenia.
Typically, drug companies are happy to publish the studies that show their drugs are superior to others’, and then hand that over to their sales and marketing team to do the hard sell to the doctors and consumers (through office visits, seminars and direct-to-consumer advertising).
But in the case of atypical antipsychotics — drugs that are significantly more expensive than those they are intended to replace, yet no more effective — the drug companies went one creative step further. They organized state by state working groups stacked with experts who were either funded by the same drug companies, or had been in the past. The panels published guidelines that — surprise, surprise! — recommended the newer, more expensive atypical antipsychotics over the older, cheaper medications. Even though they didn’t work any better and had their own potential negative side effects — weight gain and diabetes .