Psychiatric group's drugmaker ties questioned

Under attack from Congress, particularly Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), the psychiatric field's leading professional organization is being forced to explain its tight financial relationships with the pharmaceutical industry. The American Psychiatric Association, which got a blistering letter from Grassley questioning its funding sources, will hold a private meeting this weekend to discuss how to deal with public questions over its pharma relationships.

Without question, pharmaceutical funding does make up a significant part of the APA's budget. In 2006, for example--the latest year for which figures are available--drugmakers contributed 30 percent of the group's $62.5 million in financing. Pharmaceutical companies also have strong ties with individual doctors influential within the APA. For example, the group's president-elect, Dr. Alan Schatzberg of Stanford, has $4.8 million in stock holdings in a drug development company.

Meanwhile, data suggests that cushy drugmaker deals with psychiatrists are common. While on industry consulting deals data is hard to come by, Vermont officials recently concluded that in the 2007 fiscal year, psychiatrists got more money from pharmaceutical companies than doctors in any other specialty.

To learn more about this controversy:
- read this piece from The New York Times

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