You probably don't receive the throwaway journal called "Psychiatry 2008," but if you did, and if you turned to page 61 of the February issue, you would read about a new survey on treating schizophrenia. Entitled "Communicating About Health: A Mental Health America Survey of People with Schizophrenia and Providers," the survey was released by Mental Health America, a patient advocacy groups that receives funding from drug companies. (For some background on the influence of industry on patient advocacy groups, see this excellent study in New Scientist magazine.)
At any rate, this survey was conducted with 250 people with schizophrenia, and 250 psychiatrists, who were selected from two online "panels" created by a marketing research company called "International Communications Research."
The results of the survey? 1. Psychiatrists don't pay nearly enough attention to the physical health of their patient as they should. 2. Most patients have at some point stopped their medications because of side effects. 3. The potential side effect of antipsychotics of most concern to psychiatrists was diabetes.
I know what you're thinking: "This survey could not have been funded by Eli Lilly." And you'd be right, because Lilly markets Zyprexa, an antipsychotic associated with weight gain, elevated cholesterol, and diabetes. Nor would such a survey be underwritten by either AstraZeneca (Seroquel) or Janssen (Invega, Risperdal), because these antipsychotics are also implicated in the metabolic syndrome, though not as severely as Zyprexa.
Actually, this survey was funded by both Wyeth and Solvay, the companies which teamed up to market bifeprunox, an antipsychotic in development whose main marketing point is that it doesn't cause diabetes or weight gain.
Next question: If Eli Lilly decided to fund its own survey, what would they make certain the results would be? It would have to be something downplaying Zyprexa's bad side effects.
Well, we have an answer in this new Lilly-funded survey about schizophrenia that was released by yet another industry-funded patient advocacy group, The World Federation for Mental Health. This survey of 982 caregivers concluded that: 1. Relapse is a terrible thing in schizophrenia; 2. Efficacy is the top treatment priority; and 3. You have to focus on the long-term management of patients. The words "side effects," "diabetes" or "weight gain" are not even mentioned in this survey.
File this one under: Addicted to deception.