Psych docs mull ties with drugmakers

Last week, the pharma industry set out new guidelines for marketing to doctors. This weekend, psychiatrists will take a look at drugmaker-doctor ties from the other direction--and if a preview in the New York Times is any indication, it's likely to be a contentious meeting. Psychiatry and pharma have been working closely on clinical trials and drug education for some 20 years now, and while some in the specialty are convinced that docs need to "come clean on these industry deals, and soon," others say partnerships with drugmakers benefit patients, and as long as researchers follow their institutions' conflict of interest rules, that should be enough.

Of course the American Psychiatric Association is going into this meeting with a case of upset equilibrium, now that Sen. Chuck Grassley has demanded an accounting of the organization's finances, claiming that its members are too tight with drugmakers. Plus, the senator has been calling psychiatrists to task for failing to report all their pharma-releated earnings. Not to mention the fact that last week, when Vermont released its numbers on drugmaker payments to doctors, it was psychiatrists who took in the most--a good one-fifth of the total drugmakers spent in the state.

- read the New York Times story