Drs. Nemeroff and Schatzberg are back in the limelight, once again dragging the good name of psychiatry through the mud. According to today's New York Times, in 1999 SmithKline Beecham, the maker of Paxil, funded and ghost-wrote a textbook for which this ethically-challenged duo took credit.
What were they thinking?
I imagine the conversation went something like this.
N: "Let's write a textbook for primary care doctors."
S: "Sounds good. But I don't have the the time."
N: "Neither do I."
S: "So what do we do?" [N grins.] "Wait, you're not seriously considering--"
N: "Why not? What are you, suddenly Dr. Holier Than Thou?"
S: "All right, don't remind me about Corcept and your 60,000 shares. What's your plan?"
N: "Simple. We know that SmithKline Beecham's Paxil is losing market share to Pfizer's Zoloft. I'll call my friends there, ask them for an 'unrestricted educational grant.'" [S nudges N. N grins and winks. But then S frowns.]
S: "The money will be nice, but who's going to write it?"
N: "SmithKline will hire a PR firm to do it. All we have to do is review it and make some final tweaks."
S: "But isn't that a little sleazy, even for us? You know they'll play down Paxil's disadvantages--that it causes more sexual side effects, more weight gain, and more drug interactions than Zoloft."
N: "Some studies show that's true, others are more equivocal."
S: [Lightly socks N on the shoulder] "Don't BS me, you sound like you're giving one of your Paxil drug talks to naive country docs."
N: "You know me too well!"
S: "As usual you're very persuasive. I'm in."
N: "I think this is the continuation of a beautiful friendship...."