Texas suspends children's drug program

In another whodunit case, the state of Texas is trying to determine if pharma companies paid researchers inappropriate, but legal, fees to get drugs on a list of preferred psychiatric medications for children. Activities under suspicion include granting researchers consulting contracts, speaking fees and providing other gifts and monetary benefits, but involved researchers say that the implications are untrue and that child advocacy is their utmost priority.

Under a program called the Children's Medication Algorithm Project (CAMP), researchers were tasked with determining the most effective psychiatric medications for children, as well as which drugs to try first on children in state-funded mental health facilities, but state regulators have suspended the project.

In fact, no less than four of the projects' developers have received funds from drug companies, either in the form of research funding, consultancy fees or speaker fees, according to published papers and disclosure forms filed with the University of Texas system--and some of the drugs on the list are drugs manufactured by those very same drug companies.

The reason for the suspension remains unclear, but officials are saying the cause is a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson regarding false advertising and improper influence with the adult protocol under the Texas Medication Algorithm Project. Others suspect that state investigators are searching for information about whether the children's project had similar issues.

Drug companies today provide more grants and consulting fees than the federal government, which previously was the largest research supporter. While many worry that such funding will influence study results, most physicians say that they do not let the funds affect their findings. Still, the few states that require physicians to report financial ties to drug companies have found at least some evidence that funding affects physicians with drug company connections, including writing more children's prescriptions.

--read the full story at The Dallas Morning News
--catch the Pharmalot blog entry