The Boston Globe is reporting today that Dr. Joseph Biederman is “asking a judge to seal his testimony and accompanying documents in a huge multistate lawsuit, saying they “could be immensely damaging to him, both personally and professionally.”
Dr. Biederman is professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and Director of Massachusetts General Hospital’s Pediatric Psychopharmacology Unit.
He is, according to the New York Times, “the world’s most prominent advocate of diagnosing bipolar disorder in even the youngest children and of using antipsychotic medicines to treat the disease, but much of his work has been underwritten by drug makers for whom he privately consults.”
The Times reports that he “earned at least $1.6 million in consulting fees from drug makers from 2000 to 2007 but failed to report all but about $200,000 of this income to university officials.”
The documents that he would like sealed relate to his research on psychiatric medications, chiefly those manufactured by Johnson & Johnson. One document, again according to the Times, is a power point slide that describes “a proposed trial in preschool children of risperidone, an antipsychotic drug made by the drug company. The trial, the slide stated, ‘will support the safety and effectiveness of risperidone in this age group.'”
You will note that the study will support as opposed to investigate “the safety and effectiveness of risperidone…”
As the Times phrases it, he “told the drug giant Johnson & Johnson that planned studies of its medicines in children would yield results benefiting the company.”
The reader will see that these studies are “planned” not actually completed. Yet, it is already known that the study will “yield results benefiting the company.”
Last November, the Times reported that “Dr. Biederman pushed the company [Johnson & Johnson] to finance a research center at Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston, with a goal to “move forward the commercial goals of J.& J.”
The Boston Globe reports that “court documents say the company gave at least $700,000 to the center.”
In the biographical excerpt of Dr. Biederman on Mass General’s website, it is noted that “as of March 2007, Dr. Biederman has been ranked as the second highest producer of high-impact papers in psychiatry overall throughout the world with 235 papers cited a total of 7048 times over the past 10 years…”
That’s a lot of influence.
The Times reports that “Dr. Biederman’s work helped to fuel a fortyfold increase from 1994 to 2003 in the diagnosis of pediatric bipolar disorder and a rapid rise in the use of powerful, risky and expensive antipsychotic medicines in children.”
The same Times article finds that “documents also show that the company [not Dr. Biederman] prepared a draft summary of a study that Dr. Biederman, of Harvard, was said to have written.”
Back in February, 2000, a study, “Trends in the Prescribing of Psychotropic Medications to Preschoolers,” was published by the Journal of the American Medical Association. One of its conclusions was that “psychotropic medications prescribed for preschoolers increased dramatically between 1991 and 1995.” The authors went on to say that “unresolved questions involve the long-term safety of psychotropic medications, particularly in light of earlier ages of initiation and longer durations of treatment.”
At the time, a post on school.familyeducation.com related that “Dr. Joseph Biederman, chief of pediatric psychopharmacology at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, angrily dismisses the study and accuses its authors of having ‘an ideological bent.'”
I cannot help but wonder if, in light of the above information, if it wasn’t Johnson & Johnson’s money that gave an ‘ideological bent’ to Dr. Biederman instead.
And is it any wonder that he thinks the release of the documents could be “immensely damaging to him, both personally and professionally.”
Finally, does anyone else see parallels to the current greed-induced problems in the financial sector?