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Harvard Doctors Fail To Reveal $3.2 Million Pay

Armen Hareyan's picture

A front page article in the New York Times by Gardiner Harris and Ben Carey undercuts the professional credibility of the most influential child psychiatrists in the world - Harvard affiliated Dr. Joseph Biederman and Dr. Timothy Wilens.

Senator Chuck Grassley has uncovered evidence showing that these renowned Harvard child psychiatrists, recipients of substantial federal grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, failed to disclose at least $3.2 million dollars they had received from drug companies between 2000 and 2007.

Such failure to disclose is a violation of federal law. The evidence uncovered by Senator Grassley is now in the Congressional Record.

Universities ask professors to report their conflicts but do almost nothing to verify the accuracy of these voluntary disclosures. But, as Dr. Robert Alpern, dean of Yale School of Medicine, acknowledges, "It's really been an honor system thing. If somebody tells us that a pharmaceutical company pays them $80,000 a year, I don't even know how to check on that."

Universities are dependent on taxpayer largesse, they should not be absolved from being held accountable. The health institutes could place restrictions on Mass General hospital's grants or even suspend them altogether. But will the NIMH take action or pretend the problem is isolated?

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Harvard- Mass-General's consulting arrangements with drug makers, the Times notes, "were already controversial because of the researchers' advocacy of unapproved uses of psychiatric medicines in children... In the past decade, Dr. Biederman and his colleagues have promoted the aggressive diagnosis and drug treatment of childhood bipolar disorder, a mood problem once thought confined to adults."

Indeed, the Pediatric Bipolar Program at Mass General has been in the forefront of aggressive recruitment campaigns for manic-depression studies. A television ad (November, 2001), MGH sought 4 to 18 year old child subjects making false claims suggesting: "Your child may be facing a chemical problem that you can't manage without help." "We're Mass General, and we can help." This is an example of disease mongering. See: YouTube link here.

The enormous influence wielded by Dr. Biederman and his Harvard colleagues who have been conducting dubious industry-sponsored drug experiments on young children demonstrates that the Harvard mantle bestows a veneer of credibility even for medically unsupportable, radical use of toxic drugs in young children.

The Times notes that although many of Dr. Biederman's studies are small and often financed by drug makers, his work helped to fuel a controversial 40-fold increase from 1994 to 2003 in the diagnosis of pediatric bipolar disorder and a rapid rise in the use of antipsychotic medicines in children.

AHRP urges Sen. Grassley to obtain informed consent documents and adverse event reports from ALL pediatric psychotropic drug trials conducted by Harvard-Mass-General psychiatrists - whether published or not.

Of note: Dr. Kayoko Kifuji, the Tuft's trained child psychiatrist who "diagnosed" Rebecca Riley as bipolar when she was 28 months old, and prescribed a lethal drug cocktail that killed the child at age 4, insists that she followed Harvard-recommended psychopharmacological prescribing practices.

Reported by Alliance for Human Research Protection - http://ahrp.blogspot.com/