Dear Dr. Goodwin,
Thank you for taking the time to respond to my blog postings regarding this unfortunate disclosure controversy.
I’ll start by apologizing for the single false statement I made: “the segment itself was partially funded by Pfizer, maker of Zoloft.” I got that wrong. Pfizer did not fund that particular segment, but it has, indeed, been one of the underwriters of The Infinite Mind. According to the producer's website, many other drug companies have funded the program, including Eli Lilly, Abbott Laboratories, Scios, Searle, Janssen, and Solvay. According to an email from Bill Lichtenstein, the last drug company grant the show received was in 2005.
However, I stand by all my other statements. Regardless of who actually invited the guests, chose the topic, or suggested questions, you were ultimately responsible for what was said. You were there behind the microphone, asking questions, making comments, and steering the discussion.
While you appear to blame Mr. Lichtenstein for the show’s failings, saying that he put it together “in a hurry,” in fact Mr. Lichtenstein tells me that he did not produce this segment at all, and had hired a freelance producer to coordinate it.
You also blame Mr. Lichtenstein for the fact that Peter Pitt’s PR work for drug companies was not disclosed. However, you are on the board of directors of Center for Medicine in the Public Interest (CMPI), a pro-industry front group which receives a majority of its income from drug companies. Peter Pitts happens to be the president and co-founder of this same organization. How could you have not known of his financial relationships with the pharmaceutical industry? And assuming you did know, how could you have not made certain that this was disclosed to listeners?
You state that I am “damaging the reputation of distinguished academic scholars such as a professor at UCLA.” I assume you are referring to Andrew Leuchter, a professor of psychiatry at UCLA who was one of the guests on the Prozac Nation: Revisited show. In fact, I said nothing to damage his reputation. Dr. Leuchter is a brilliant researcher who I once interviewed for an article on the uses of EEG in psychiatric practice. He takes money from pharmaceutical companies for research on antidepressants, which he discloses on his website. There’s nothing wrong with that. But this information should have been disclosed to listeners—not to discredit him, but to alert listeners that these financial relationships might (or might not) have influenced his opinions about the dangers of antidepressants.
To conclude, I’m hoping that you and your supporters, such as John McManamy , will stop blaming everybody else for this mess. Don’t blame the New York Times—they were merely reporting the facts. Don’t blame scientologists—they haven’t even participated in this discussion. Don’t blame Bill Lichtenstein, Gardiner Harris, Charles Grassley, Slate Magazine, Shannon Brownlee, Jeanne Lenzer, or even Daniel Carlat.
This entire fiasco could have been averted if you had chosen to inform NPR listeners of your financial conflicts of interests at the beginning of shows focusing on pharmaceuticals.
Daniel Carlat, M.D.