Fat Doctors shouldn't steal apples: Harvard doctors push anti-psychotic drugs on kids, in return for MILLIONS from big pharma?
In a recent report authored by Congressional investigators, it was revealed that Johnson & Johnson and other drug makers paid three Harvard doctors, personally, at least $4.2 million dollars, in total, between 2000 and 2007, The three doctors have authored a handful of small and "inconclusive" studies which they have touted to push physicians to treat young children with anti-psychotic medications not designed for that purpose. The doctors had hid these payments from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and Harvard University.
The lead investigators, Drs. Joseph Biederman and Timothy Wilens were each paid 1.6 million dollars, while their colleague, Dr. Thomas Spencer, reported earning "at least" 1.0 million dollars. It is important to distinguish what the doctors "reported earning" from what they actually earned, because the report documented numerous incidents of under-reporting. For example, Biederman originally reported no income from Johnson & Johnson for 2001. When prompted, he amended his report to show receipt of $3500. Yet Johnson & Johnson reported paying him $58,169.00 in 2001.
To protect the integrity of NIH studies, investigators are required to report payments that exceed $10,000.00, and Harvard forbade professors from conducting clinical trials if they received payment above that amount. Biederman originally denied being paid that amount by Eli Lilly in the year 2000 when he received an NIH grant to study an ADD drug, however, the New York Times reports that the company reported payment of $14,000.00 to Biederman in that year.
Senator Charles Grassley, Republican of Iowa, stimulated this investigation through his unrelenting exposure of aberrant health care spending, abuse of authority and waste. He pointed out that the three doctors' original disclosures to the NIH and Harvard did not document even a half million dollars of payment.
In the meantime, with these doctors lending the intellectual goodwill of Harvard to their efforts, they have led a revolution in the diagnosis and treatment of pediatric mental disorders. With little more authority than their judgment as Harvard physicians, the doctors have pushed a policy that has resulted in an enormous increase in the diagnosis and pharmaceutical treatment of pediatric disorders.
During the last few years, some one half million children and teens were given at least one prescription for an antipsychotic. In 2007, 20,500 kids under the age of six were treated with antipsychotics, according to Medco Health Solutions, a pharmacy benefit manager. These medications were invented to treat schizophrenia and other experts argue that the Harvard group's research does not support its conclusions. That criticism is likely to increase dramatically, now that it is known that the doctors were receiving, and concealing, annual consulting fees paid by the drug makers that approached a quarter million dollars per year.