The incoming president of the American Psychiatric Association, Nada Stotland, M.D., is getting serious about the distorting effects of drug company money on the organization. She recently formed two new groups to scrutinize this issue.
The first is called the Committee on Commercial Support. I don't know any details about this yet, because I'm not on it. But the title pretty much speaks for itself.
I was, however, appointed to the "Ad Hoc Work Group on Adapting to Changes in Pharmaceutical Revenue." According the email inviting me to join, our mission is:
"The formation of an ad hoc work group of the Board [meaning the Board of Trustees] charged to work with the Medical Director to: identify the categories and amounts of monies received from the pharmaceutical and other industries producing products or services used in psychiatry by the APA and its subsidiaries; determine what direct and indirect financial consequences there would be from discontinuing each category; indicate how the APA could adapt to the attendant change in revenue; and to provide the Board with the elements of a 5 year plan to end or diminish the pharmaceutical revenue received by the APA. The ad hoc work group will report to the BOT with a report and recommendations by October 2008."
Thus far, the confirmed members include: the chairperson, Jeffrey Geller, MD, a public policy expert and professor of psychiatry at U Mass Worcester; the vice chairperson Dauda Griffin, MD, a psychiatrist in Cambridge MA; David Fassler, MD, the newly elected secretary-treasurer of the APA; Richard Harding, MD, APA president in 2001-2002; Carolyn Robinowitz, MD, the current APA president; and myself.
We haven't met yet, and I can't guarantee you that I'll be able to report much about the proceedings on this blog, because there are some confidentiality rules that I will have to respect in order to avoid getting kicked off. But I wanted to at least let everyone know about this extremely encouraging development.
Kudos to Dr. Stotland!