These days, when you think politics, you are probably picturing the likes of Obama, Clinton, or Huckabee, but at least for the next few weeks, think Donna Norris.
Yes, it's time for all good psychiatrists to open that official APA ballot and check off their choices for who will make crucial decisions about the American mind over the next couple of years (the actual term is one year, but there is a preparatory "president-elect" year). Rarely have the distinctions between the candidates been more stark.
In one corner, we have Donna Norris, M.D., a child and adolescent psychiatrist who has been active in APA governance for 25 years. She is currently the secretary-treasurer of the APA, chair of the Ethics Appeals Board, and a past speaker of the APA Assembly. More to the point, she is concerned about the pharmaceutical industry's influence on our profession. She chairs a special task force in charge of screening all potential members of the DSM-5 committee for commercial conflicts of interest. On a more personal note, she receives no financial compensation from drug companies, depending on her private practice for all of her income.
By contrast, Alan Schatzberg, M.D., has no APA governance experience, although he once served as vice president of the Northern California Psychiatric Society. Even more troubling, he was involved in what many consider an ethical breach in 2002, when he wrote an article endorsing mifepristone for psychotic depression without disclosing the full extent of his financial involvement in Corcept, the company that has tried to develop the drug for this purpose. At that time he owned 3 million shares; the current value of these shares is about $12 million. Currently, Schatzberg is the editor-in-chief of a journal entitled the "International Journal of Sleep and Wakefulness" which is funded wholly by Cephalon, a pharmaceutical company that sells Provigil. The purpose of this pseudo-journal appears to be to convince readers that sleepiness is a huge public health problem and that Provigil is the mainstay of treatment.
I sent both Dr. Schatzberg and Dr. Norris a series of questions exploring their views on conflict of interest, and Dr. Schatzberg ignored me (Dr. Norris responded promptly).