Like an aging, punch drunk fighter struggling through the twelfth round, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) can’t seem to slip the punches coming its direction. Last week, a host of blogs went after them for refusing to print a letter written by three academics that was critical of a medical textbook the APA published with help from the ghostwriting company Scientific Therapeutics Information (STI).
The letter criticized the APA for failing to publish records that explain the provenance of the textbook, including drafts, contracts with STI and/or GlaxoSmithKline, and any communications regarding editing. The text’s purported authors are Dr. Charles Nemeroff of the University of Miami and Dr. Alan Schatzberg of Stanford University.
Yesterday, Phyllis Vine over at MIWatch landed a blistering combination on the APA. When she poked them for a response, the APA covered up and peeked back through their gloves. “The APA's official response has been unconvincing,” she jabbed.
She then landed a solid uppercut.
Before the controversial textbook ended up in the story in The New York Times, she wrote, STI displayed a picture of the book’s cover in their results portfolio. They’ve now yanked the page from their website, but the MIWatch writer found an older version of the page on the Wayback Machine. When you click on the “publications” button and scroll down, you can see a picture of the textbook’s cover.
The APA caught a few more wallops this morning from HealthCare Renewal and The Carlat Psychiatry Blog. Over at Pharmalot, Ed Silverman scored a brief interview with STI's CEO John Romankiewicz. When asked why the book had disappeared from STI's website, Romankiewicz said, “Thanks for the inquiry, but we don’t display that kind of stuff on our web site.”
He then hung up the phone.
The APA’s reluctance to engage with critics may be due to the association’s cozy ties to STI. In 2007, STI "medical writer" Sally Laden was deposed during litigation regarding Paxil. POGO has acquired a copy of the deposition. There are quite a few editing errors, so bear with us. Some interesting tidbits from pages 237-238:
Question: Okay So we talked about the workbooks And now I think we are down to the next topic
Sally Laden: Which is an APA symposia
Question: Okay Did STI help well you tell me What go ahead Keep taking me through this
Sally Laden: We worked on a number of APA the American Psychiatric Association has an annual meeting some time in the spring every year And for many years we helped them with programs symposia at the APA
Question: Okay And so what is the next topic here?
Sally Laden: It says who chose topics and speakers
Question: Okay And what was the answer to that?
Sally Laden: The general topics say depression in the elderly would be chosen by GSK Saying can you help us with the symposium on that And we have already spoken to a Chairperson Now will you work with the Chairperson to come up with the agenda and the speakers for this program
Question: Okay Do you recall setting up speakers to talk on the topic of adolescent depression?
Sally Laden: Sometimes we did I don t remember if we did one at APA or not
Question: I m sorry?
Sally Laden: I don t remember if there was an APA symposia on adolescent depression
Seems like the American Psychiatric Association and Scientific Therapeutics Information have been friendly for some time, no?
Paul Thacker is a POGO Investigator.
Image: Wikimedia Commons.